Starting with New Year in 1918, it had one thing in common with this New Year. In a few months, one of the worst viruses to hit the world since the Black Death would arrive in the form of the Spanish Flu.

In those days, there were no vaccines and just basic medications.

It started during the spring in the USA but was called the Spanish Flu as the First World War was still lumbering on.

Both sides did not want to admit that a virus was affecting their troops, so they kept quiet; Spain was not involved in the war, so they could admit the virus was present.

But the main problem on that New Year was that the war was seemingly never going to end.

Both sides were strong, and the eventual victors were still not known.

With the news from the front, the idea of celebrating yet another year of the war was far from the minds of the families at home.

In previous years the Bull Ring had been the rendezvous for those who wanted to celebrate the New Year, but after nearly four years of the most devastating war, there was not much to celebrate the advent of another year.

A year that would see an H1N1 devastating bird flu and around five million deaths worldwide.

However, there was a smaller gathering in the Bull Ring, and those present joined in with the singing, mainly patriotic songs. At midnight there was handshaking and wishes for a better year in 1918, hymns were sung. The many chemical works in the area sounded their buzzers on the hour.

At Northwich Police Court on New Year’s day, Mr J.W Deakin spoke on behalf of the Bench to wish everyone concerned with the court a very happy new year. He was sure that everyone was looking forward to the moment when peace would be declared among the warring nations of the world. He hoped that it would be a perpetual and lasting peace when peace did arrive.

The court sat on New Year’s Day, and before them was Richard Richards of Middlewich Road. He had been arrested for being drunk and incapable – and – in possession of £6, the magistrates suggested that the police saved him from himself as that large amount of money could easily have been stolen from him in his inebriated state. The case was dismissed with a suggestion that Mr Richards donate to charity.

At the Gospel Union Mission Hall in Leicester Street, a party was given for 250 of the poorest children in Northwich. Among the children, every three out of four had a father or brother fighting in the forces.

Coming forward, we arrive at the end of the Second World War, or very near that awaited day, New Year 1944.

The officers and ships company of HMS Wren sent a pictorial Christmas and New Year card to the towns’ people.

HMS Wren was a Black Swan class sloop adopted by the civil community of Knutsford and Northwich as part of the Warship Week National Saving programme in 1942.

During the war, she gained many honours being involved, mainly with her sister ships, in the sinking of four U Boats. She was scrapped in 1955 at Rosyth.

In that same year, 1944, it was time to look at a local hero over the New Year period. Mrs Bailey of 560 High Street, Winsford, travelled to Buckingham Palace to be awarded a George Medal on behalf of her husband, the late corporal (Acting Sergeant) William Henry Bailey of The Royal Engineers.

He had been engaged in a dangerous wartime occupation as a bomb disposal worker and had sadly been killed; he had been working for a long time on delayed action bombs.

Sergeant Bailey was a son of Mr and Mrs George Bailey of 16 Park Avenue, Winsford. Before the war, he was a brickyard foreman at Messrs George Hamlett & Sons Ltd. Mrs Bailey took their four-year-old son to the palace, but he was too young to attend the ceremony.

On completion, he wore the medal proudly on his chest. An officer had written to Mrs Bailey, ‘It is very hard after all his work in bomb disposal in which he greatly distinguished himself that he should be taken in this way; it was one of those inevitable incidents for which no one was to blame.

The last words on leaving behind 1944 can be attributed to a local reporter. ‘1944 has been a hard and sad year for many reasons. To look back may cause heartbreak, the opening of wounds scarcely healed.

‘Yet surely to you who have faced up to so much, there have been days of sunshine. There must have been times when the load was lifted.

‘Look back on these; it will surely help you to look to the future with a smile and with confidence.’

And just five months to the day, the future could be looked forward to, as that was the day, the May 30, that probably the most evil man in the world, Adolf Hitler, committed suicide and the war in Europe was all but finished.

Going forward to happier times, namely New Year’s Eve 1963, The Strand at Winsford had balloons and prizes with the Cliff Wood Band to provide the entertainment.

The cost of entry was 6/6d with late transport to Middlewich, Moulton, Davenham and Northwich.

The 1066 Klub at Tarporley had a New Year’s Eve Carnival Dance with Galaxie and the Sundowners. Admission was 8/6d.

The Memorial Hall at Northwich was relatively new in 1963 and went under its original name. The Northwich Victory Memorial Hall and for entertainment.

On December 21 an up-and-coming group, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, were on stage accompanied by Sounds Incorporated and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. On December 24, The Hollies appeared. Now that is the sort of act The Morgue was famous for!

On December 28, they featured Screaming Lord Such & The Savages. New Year’s Eve saw The Creation, who had recently had a hit with The Painter Man.

Warmingham Grange had a New Year’s Eve Carnival night with Wee Three, a speciality act Hari Kari and the fabulous Measles!

1963 was an excellent time to celebrate the New Year.

We will end this delve into past New Year jollities and look forward to this one under challenging circumstances but hopefully with a better outlook than the war years.

A very happy and safe New Year to you all from the Looking Back/YesterYears column

Paul Hurley has a thriving Facebook Group called Mid Cheshire Through Time. All are welcome with no politics or advertising. Just old photos and fun.