Exploring the industrial heritage of Cheshire at Lion Salt Works


 I spent a day just before the Easter break talking salt. No, really.

Salt, it transpires, is a huge industry, especially in a town like Northwich, Cheshire, where the salt industry started with the Romans and fostered the development of its booming chemical industry today.

I had come to Northwich for a press preview of the Lion Salt Works – it’s just one of a handful of industrial heritage buildings of its type across the world and it’s right here in the Northwest of England.

The Lion Salt Works will re-open to the public as a visitor attraction in May after a four-year, £9.9m restoration project to save the crumbling historic site.

It’s tough bringing industrial-heritage buildings to life but Paul Stockton [pictured above] made the work-in-progress site come alive with his stories of the daily grind.

My full article will appear in Discover Britain magazine in time for Heritage Open Days weekend this autumn.

But, meanwhile, here’s a sneak preview:

Paul Stockton was just 20 years when he came to the Lion Salt Works in Northwich as a student labourer. It was 1970 and Paul, who went on to work as a maths teacher, earned £5 per week, hauling 28lb blocks of fresh salt around the site.

“It was very hot and steamy. The whole building smelt strangely clean but you could always taste the salt on your tongue,” he remembers of those days, stripped to the waist in boilerhouse conditions ‘lofting’ or hauling blocks of salt around the drying room.

“It was very hard work and the foreman was always cracking the whip. But I also remember the camaraderie,” he adds. “I’d go to the pub every lunchtime with my workmates and we’d spend our wages.”

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