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Discover Cheshire's Salt Story

Discover Cheshire's Salt Story

Cheshire's Salt Story 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.

By now and since the end of the 17th Century a major salt industry had developed around the Cheshire 'Salt towns.' They were; Northwich, Middlewich, Nantwich and Winsford. 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 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. After visiting the Lion Salt Works, why not head onto the Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse and delve into the social, cultural and industrial history of West Cheshire.

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  1. Northwich

    Northwich

    With a rich, varied history and close ties to the salt industry, Northwich is a thriving market town nestled in the heart of Cheshire.

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    Northwich Artisan Market Crowds and Stalls
    Urban Astronaut at the Now Northwich Festival
    Vickersway Park, Northwich
    Anderton Boat Lift, Northwich
    The Lion Salt Works, Northwich
    Northwich Artisan Market Crowds and Stalls
    Urban Astronaut at the Now Northwich Festival
    Vickersway Park, Northwich
    Anderton Boat Lift, Northwich
    The Lion Salt Works, Northwich

    Vibrant Northwich has something for everyone.

    The high street is full of unique and specialist independent businesses mixed with major national retailers and the town also hosts a monthly Artisan Market which is packed with amazing hand-crafted products.

    On top of this, Northwich has been bolstered by the £80 million Barons Quay development which continues to expand.

    Comprising a state-of-the-art five screen cinema, high street retailers and food and drink venues, the shopping destination is set to grow over the coming months with even more businesses preparing to open there.

    Throughout the year Northwich hosts regular town centre events too including seasonal extravaganzas which provide fun and entertainment for people of all ages.

    Look out for the Christmas Extravaganza in particular, the Northwich Festival of Arts in July and Now Northwich which brings a wow factor to the town’s calendar.

    While visiting an event in Northwich or hitting the shops you may need some refreshment. Fortunately the town has a comprehensive selection of pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars for visitors to enjoy. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or just drinks with friends, Northwich has an option to suit all preferences.

    Away from the town centre, Northwich has plenty of parks, museums and attractions to see and explore, with many linking back to the area’s close ties to the salt industry.

    Visit the breath-taking Anderton Boat Lift, stroll along the River Weaver or pop into the Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse to learn about the history of West Cheshire.

    Northwich also boasts the Lion Salt Works which is one of the premier historical tourist attractions in the North West.

    Restored at a cost of over £10 million, the museum offers an insightful and atmospheric journey through the site’s different buildings.

    So if you’re looking to visit a Cheshire town that really does offer something for everyone, then head over to Northwich.

    Contact Details:

    Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 5PB

    Website

    Web Site

  2. Nantwich

    Nantwich is situated on the banks of the River Weaver with the Shropshire Union Canal running through the town making a junction with the Llangollen Canal.

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    The vibrant town centre of Nantwich
    Nantwich is famous for the medieval timbered buildings dotted around the town
    The vibrant town centre of Nantwich
    Nantwich is famous for the medieval timbered buildings dotted around the town

    Nantwich is a medieval market town with a modern edge.

    Situated on the banks of the River Weaver, Nantwich is famous for the medieval timbered buildings dotted around the town. Stroll through the atmospheric streets and visit for bijoux boutiques, antiques dealers and contemporary craft shops.

    Nantwich also hosts the International Cheese Awards, a prestigious event that celebrates the finest cheeses known to man.

    Contact Details:

    Cheshire, CW5 5DG

    Website

    Web Site

  3. Middlewich

    Middlewich

    Middlewich is an historic and ancient settlement at the heart of Cheshire, which dates back into pre-history and the first hunter gatherers.

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    Middlewich is an historic and ancient settlement at the heart of Cheshire, which dates back into pre-history and the first hunter gatherers.

    Middlewich is a town that takes pride in its heritage from the abundance of Roman Archaeology to the Industrial Revolution and the canals that were built to service it. Salt has always been a common thread of life throughout the ages; the Roman Army set up a permanent fort and created a settlement and industrial working areas. A Medieval market rose up around the salt industries and associated trades creating a Middlewich Town that we see today.

    Middlewich has everything, listed and historical buildings, modern amenities, good transport links and a beautiful canal system.

    Contact Details:

    Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0JB

    Website

    Web Site

  4. Frodsham

    Frodsham is a thriving Cheshire Market Town that dates from the 13th century. Rich in history and many of today’s buildings stand on the original plots of land laid out in the 13th and 14th centuries.

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    Frodsham is a thriving Cheshire Market Town that dates from the 13th century. Rich in history and many of today’s buildings stand on the original plots of land laid out in the 13th and 14th centuries.

    Its genteel and attractive appearance does not hint at the town’s bustling, industrial past. Frodsham was an important port during the Middle Ages exporting salt to Liverpool. Cheese was also stored in a warehouse on the riverbank before being loaded on to boats. The town was a staging post during the stage coach era.

    In the early 18th century a small shipbuilding yard was established. Later the River Weaver was canalised, becoming navigable up to Winsford and the Manchester Ship Canal was constructed.

    The market takes place each Thursday and Frodsham also boasts many shops, pubs and restaurants. Nearby attractions include Castle Park Arts Centre; Foxhill Arboretum and Lady Heyes Craft and Antiques Restoration Centre. The town is part of the Weaver Valley Regional Park and the 30 mile Sandstone Trail stretches between Frodsham and Whitchurch.

    Contact Details:

    Cheshire, WA6 7AH

    Website

    Web Site

  5. Anderton Boat Lift

    Northwich

    The grounds and takeaway are now open - Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
    Keep an eye on the website and social media for updates on the visitor centre reopening and boat trips restarting in the summer. 

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    Anderton Boat Lift - A fun day out for the family
    Stunning views of Anderton Boat Lift and the canal side
    All aboard for a trip up Anderton Boat Lift
    Grab lunch or a drink and a snack at the onsite cafe at Anderton Boat Lift
    Anderton Boat Lift - An extraordinary feat of engineering
    Anderton Boat Lift - A fun day out for the family
    Stunning views of Anderton Boat Lift and the canal side
    All aboard for a trip up Anderton Boat Lift
    Grab lunch or a drink and a snack at the onsite cafe at Anderton Boat Lift
    Anderton Boat Lift - An extraordinary feat of engineering

    The grounds and takeaway are now open - Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00am to 4.00pm.

    Keep an eye on the website and social media for updates on the visitor centre reopening and boat trips restarting in the summer. 

    Marvel at the miraculous feat of Victorian engineering they call the ‘Cathedral of the Canals’. No wonder it won Visit England’s 2018 Large Visitor Attraction Of The Year - Take a 30-minute boat ride up or down the lift to get the inside track on its workings. If you’ve got a head for heights, try Walking The Lift; venture out along the aqueduct to see the former control room and machine deck, then climb to the very top of this impressive structure for wonderful panoramic views. Little ones will love the new Let’s Play outdoor area, complete with a mock-up of Anderton’s bridge, control house and mooring area, and, inside the Visitor Centre, a lift-themed craft area where young imaginations can fly. Check out, too, the fascinating exhibition about this unique spectacle.

     

    Contact Details:

    Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6FW

    Tel:

    01606 786777

    Website

    Web Site

  6. Lion Salt Works

    Northwich

    Cheshire’s salt – the precious mineral on which this county sits – has been prized since Roman times.

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    It’s a story brilliantly told at the Lion Salt Works, one of the last open-pan sites in the world, an intriguing warren of stove, boiler and pan houses renovated to reveal how salt was extracted from the underground brine lakes and transformed into a coveted commodity. Immerse yourself in the high-tech wizardry of Salt Pan 3, which recreates the steamy and dangerous conditions where bare-chested men toiled over great vats of the boiling brine. Stand at the bar in the old Red Lion pub, where the workers were once served refreshing pints of beer with a replenishing pinch of salt. Spot the worker’s boots encrusted with salt crystals and the sardine tins that, curiously, wages were paid in. Then step out on the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal, where salt was once hauled to Liverpool’s docks, the gateway to the world.

    Contact Details:

    Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6ES

    Tel:

    01606 275066

    Website

    Web Site

  7. Weaver Hall Museum

    Northwich

    Life could be very tough for the people of mid-Cheshire but never more so than for those who ended up in the Northwich Union Workhouse. 

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    Weaver Hall
    Weaver Hall

    Life could be very tough for the people of mid-Cheshire but never more so than for those who ended up in the Northwich Union Workhouse.  The museum tells the sad stories of those who fell through the net and of the prosperous business families who decided their fate. 

    - The Industrial Voices Gallery explores the development of the industries of mid-Cheshire which were in direct response to the slat geology and the mass production of evaporated salt. 

    - The stories of poverty and prosperity are told through films, reconstructions, models and vivid displays of intriguing artefacts, which relate to local industry, market towns, transport, archaeology, and the building’s history as the Northwich Union Workhouse. 

    - An exhibition in the former workhouse schoolroom explores life for the paupers.  Around the rest of the museum you can find out about workhouse food, discover some of the people who lived here, and visit the recreated Master’s sitting room.

    - The tiny Regalette Cinema houses the original seating from the Northwich Regal and  shows an introductory film to the museum.

    There is an active programme of special exhibitions and events.  See website for more information.  

    Wheelchair access is available throughout the museum.

    We have a coffee shop with a selection of hot and cold drinks, biscuits and flapjacks. There is a pub next door for those looking for hot food.

    Combine your visit with trip to the multi-award-winning Lion Salt Works and immerse yourself story of open-pan salt production which drove the development of Cheshire as a key producer for the world.

    Weaver Hall can be easily access from the stations of the Mid-Cheshire rail line and is a short drive from Anderton Boat Lift, Arley Hall and Jodrell Bank.

    Contact Details:

    162 London Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 8AB

    Tel:

    01606 271640

    Website

    Web Site

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Northwich (53.25986,-2.50224)Nantwich (53.0677,-2.52079)19.29
Nantwich (53.0677,-2.52079)Middlewich (53.19296,-2.44447)13.36
Middlewich (53.19296,-2.44447)Frodsham (53.29585,-2.7261)19.79
Frodsham (53.29585,-2.7261)Anderton Boat Lift (53.2745,-2.52763)12.08
Anderton Boat Lift (53.2745,-2.52763)Lion Salt Works (53.2752,-2.49549)1.93
Lion Salt Works (53.2752,-2.49549)Weaver Hall Museum (53.25408,-2.51351)2.38
Total Distance *68.8 miles
Estimated Journey Time2.21 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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