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Salt-making in Cheshire dates back over 2000 years, when the salt towns of Cheshire were first established by the Romans.
The salt was originally extracted from the ground in the Northwich region by brine pits. in the 17th Century. These mines were exhausted by 1850. There was a change to wild brine pumping after the exhaustion of the mined rock salt supplies, the brine was pumped out of the ground to supply the salt works based at the suface.
In the late 19th Centuy the monopolistic Salt Union controlled the dominating brine shafts and traditional open salt works in Northwich.
In 1734 the completion of the River Weaver Navigation gave a navigable route for transporting salt from Winsford through Northwich to Frodsham and in 1793 the Anderton Basin was excavated on the north bank of the Weaver, this took the river to the food of the escarpment of the canal, 50ft above.
The Anderton Basin was a major interchange for trans-shipping goods by 1870 there was extensvie warehousing, three double inclined planes and four salt chutes. But this trans-shipment was time-consuming and expensive. There needed to be a link between the waterways to allow boats to pass directly from one to the other.
In 1870 a boat lift was proposed and designed by experienced hydraulic engineer, Edwin Clark.
Work on the boat lift started in 1873 and The Anderton Boat Lift was formally opened to traffic on 26th July 1875.
The Anderton Boat Lift still operates today and is also home to a visitor centre and cafe. You can even take a trip on the boat lift yourself!
In 1894 a new salt works was constructed by Henry Ingram Thompson which became known as the 'Lion Salt Works' where come Spring 2015 visitors can embark on a journey from the heart of Cheshire to the tables of the world by exploring the history and science of salt production in Cheshire.