This website is now an archive of the restoration and should only be used as a resource. Please visit the Lion Salt Works website for the most up-to-date information.

Welcome to the Lion Salt Works blog

The Lion Salt Works is a historic brine salt making site that is being restored and transformed into a unique heritage attraction. Led by Cheshire West and Chester Council, this £8million project will see the site reborn as a fascinating destination for tourists, day visitors and families and a valued resource for local communities, businesses and heritage interest groups.

Located in the village of Marston, close to the town of Northwich, the site lies adjacent to the Trent and Mersey Canal and is close to the historic Anderton Boat Lift. A substantial part of the site is a Scheduled Monument.

Restoration work has now started on the site, with an expected opening in spring 2015. The Lion Salt Works is currently closed to the public.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

How to...Build a Stove House

Once the salt was made in the Pan House 3/ 4, it was left to dry and then carried through to the stove houses on open sided salt barrows by the lumpers.

The Stove House

The stove house was built of brick. It was built directly behind the pan house.

On the ground floor level inside it was filled with hard concrete material to the same height as the level of the pan. This was known as the flue level.

Above this was an open roofed warehouse level. This was built of either wood or steel and was open to the roof trusses.

The flue level

The flue level was where the blocks of salt were baked dried.

The stove house would have been filled by a series of low flues. These were built of thin brick walls covered in iron plates. The hot air would heat the iron plates on top of the flue. The hot air from the stoves would pass under the wall between the pan house and the stove house. From here it entered flues that ran up and down the stove houses, with at either end a cross-flue. Between the flues were a series of lower ‘ditches’ that became filled with loose salt from the blocks. The hot air then passed through a single opening at the end of the stove house to the chimney.

The flow of hot air was controlled by a series of gates in front of the chimney called ‘damper plates’. These were raised and lowered remotely by cables and pulleys connected to a weight.

The blocks of salt would be turned out into the flue level of the stove house and stacked by the lofter.

The lofter

The job of the lofter was to stack and dry the salt blocks. The salt blocks would be initially dumped onto the ground in the ‘ditches’ between the flues. The lofter would then stack the blocks on top of the flues like bricks to bake them dry. They would remain on the flues for two weeks.

Above the flues were a series of salt hatches. When the hatches were open they would allow the salt blocks to be passed up to the warehouse level. The lofter would do this using a pronged tool or by hand. He would stick these in the lump and throw them up through the salt hatches. He would work slowly around the blocks throwing them up to the level above. The blocks would then be processed in the warehouse above (see warehouse level above).

The warehouse

The warehouse was where the salt was finally dried and packed.

The floor of the warehouse was held up by a series of reused railway tracks held up by cast-iron columns.

The warehouse in Stove House 3 was an open space that originally connected directly through to warehouses in Stove House 1 and 4. The warehouse roof was supported by a series of wooden trusses on top of wooden posts that form an aisle.  Where the floor had become weak in, they had been patched using a series of reused boards from the side of salt tubs.

The roof of Stove House 4, in comparison, was built entirely of a steel frame constructed in 1956. This has been corroded by salt in places. The warehouse was dominated by the remains of two large crushing machines (see Crushing Machines).

The warehouse was traditionally where the women worked. They operated the crushing machines. They also packed the salt in sacks and packages.

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