Wilmslow in the News

Wilmslow used to be an anonymous town like hundreds of other similar towns around the country. But in recent years it has made a few appearances in the national media. Some are listed below:

The IRA Bomb

Some time ago I was woken up by a not very loud thud which turned out to be the IRA blowing up a piece of signalling equipment on the railway line at Wilmslow. No-one one was hurt but it disrupted trains on the main railway line. The Summerfields shopping centre car park soon filled up with fire engines, police cars, big white vans with satellite dishes; and news reporters milled about outside the chemists shop. Our MP at the time, Neil Hamilton, turned up . Nothing much happened after that. The culprits were never caught and the signal equipment was soon repaired but it occupied the national press headlines for some days.

The Member of Parliament & the Sleaze Scandal

The general election in Wilmslow is usually a foregone conclusion; the Conservative candidate for the Tatton constituency of which Wilmslow is a part wins by a very large margin. So election interest is low. But our MP Neil Hamilton had been accused of various things a while earlier, notably "cash for questions" - taking money to ask questions in Parliamentary debates. His libel action against the Guardian newspaper had failed so a large dark cloud hovered over his head.

Come the election and he stands for Parliament as usual, but a lot of resentment at this is apparent and a famous TV personality decided to stand against him as the anti-corruption candidiate. This man, Martin Bell, was the BBC's war reporter and known for always wearing a white suit. After legal action he dropped the "anti-corruption" label and stood simply as an independent candidate, usually a recipe for being ignored in British politics, but was soon taken seriously.

To cut a long story short Neil Hamilton's large majority in the second safest Conservative seat in England was overturned and Martin Bell won by an even larger majority. All this was avidly followed by the media, TV crews regularly cruised the streets, and the results were shown live on election night broadcasts.

Mr Bell did not stand at the next election in 2001 and the constituency returned to the Conservatives. Mr Hamilton, who did not stand either, continues to try to clear his name via the courts, without success.

The Pagan People

In June 1999 David Leaver, temporary curate of St Bartholomews Church, wrote a goodbye letter in the parish magazine. He described Wilmslow as "a wonderful place to be" but at the end of the article, bemoaning the low number of 30 & 40-year olds in the congregation, he described them as "as pagan as any group of people I have ever met".

For some reason the local parish magazine is required reading for newspaper and TV news editors and soon hordes, and I do mean hordes, of reporters were in Wilmslow to write stories about the pagan lifestyle. This mostly involved visiting the Ferrari and Porsche dealerships (which are actually in Handforth, not Wilmslow), also local estate agents, Hoopers department store, and Victoria Wine which reputedly sells more champagne than anywhere else in the country (it's in Alderley Edge, not Wilmslow). The famous people living in the area were listed, house prices examined, and one or two reporters even commented on the large number of wine bars.

So for another day or so Wilmslow was headline news due to its supposed lifestyle. The appropriately named Rev. Leaver was unable to comment as he was on holiday in the USA.