Recently a group of Rotarians and friends visited the Lion Salt Work Museum in Northwich, Cheshire.
to Lion Salt Works Museum
On 2 September a group of Rotarians and friends had a very enjoyable outing to the Lion Salt Works Museum in Northwich.
Cheshire is renowned for its salt, produced from the Iron Age to the present day. Initially, salt was produced from natural brine steams. There is ample evidence of salt production in Roman times at Middlewich, Nantwich and Northwich (the three Wiches).
Many of us have been to the original salt museum in Northwich itself, and have some understanding of salt production in Cheshire. The Lion Museum takes you several steps further, being a former salt production factory which closed in 1986 after 102 years of operation.
It is sited adjacent to the Trent and Mersey canal which, along with the railways, carried its finished product to customer or port of shipment. There was a thriving export trade and the storyline says that the demise of exports was the major reason for the business failure. Nearby was a deep salt mine, closed in the 1930’s following flooding.
After closure, the works and its plant and machinery fell into disrepair. The site was run by a Trust from 1993 set up by Vale Royal Council who then owned the site. From 2009 ownership transferred to Cheshire East and Chester Council. It re-opened as a museum as recently as June 2015 following a £10m restoration funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Council itself and a few other sponsors. In August this year the site was named the best UK Heritage Project by the National Lottery. It also won a prestigious Conservation award at the 2016 Civic Trust Awards.
The guide for our visit was Roger and he led us on an hour and a half tour of the site, starting at the outside salt pans, showing us the old brine pumping well with its “nodding donkey” steam engine, and then inside the factory to see the production process, well written up on displays for visitors. Sadly much of the machinery is rusting and decayed, but sufficient remains to allow the imagination to take over.
We finished our visit with lunch at the Inn, across the road from the Museum.
Rtn Bill Coupe