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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...Transport Salt


The transport to the site went through change over time that correlated with the wider change in transport.

Canal and River

Much of the 19th-century open-pan salt works in Northwich developed along the line of the Trent and Mersey Canal. Initially the Alliance Works and the early Lion Salt Works relied on the canal network to transport salt along the canal to the Anderton Boat Lift and down the River Weaver. Photographs show salt being loaded onto canal barges outside the Lion Salt Works in the late-19th century.

The works had its own fleet of narrowboats which shuttled back and forth along the Trent and Mersey Canal between the works and the Anderton Boat Lift carrying 30 ton consignments of salt to the waiting Weaver Flats and barges. Their names were Duke, Earl, Ernest, Tempest and Typhoon.

From here it was relayed to larger barges that ran along the River Weaver. Buried remains of salt chutes form part of the Scheduled Monument of the Anderton Boat Lift (SM no. 1021152). These would be used to transport salt directly into the waiting barges below. The Thompson’s also owned a fleet of Mersey Salt Barges including the Herald of Peace and Weaver Belle.

The 19th century maps suggest that coal was delivered to the open pans of the Alliance Works from a private basin. Likewise coal was delivered directly into the earliest Lion Salt Works from the canal. Coal could be directly delivered from the canal to Pan House 1. In addition a tunnel ran from the canal into the centre of the works. The tunnel allowed coal to be delivered to the series of four fishery pans.

Rail - Salt Trains/ Carriages

The works also relied on the rail network in parallel with the canal. Salt was transported from the Alliance Works to the main rail network via a series of tramways. These tramways ran to the Marston Hall Mine (north-west of the LSW), The Adelaide (Open-Pan) Works (north of the Trent and Mersey Canal) and The Alliance Works which developed a series of sidings that ran into the centre of the works. From here the tramway snaked around and joined sidings in Northwich on the main Chester – Manchester line (name railway).


After the Alliance Works closed in c. 1900, new sidings were put in place that served the Lion Salt Works. They ran around the southern boundary of the site and finished in front of Pan House 3 and 4. The sidings were not designed for trains to use but were instead designed for salt wagons that were brought up to the works by a series of winches from the mineral railway that served the Marston Mine. The wagons used to wait in a sidings at the bottom end of Cross Street (the house today is called The Sidings).
A single windlass is still visible in the Pump House. This was powered by the steam engine in the pump house and drew the wagons up the gradual incline from the end of Cross Street. A series of pulleys and couplings are likely to have allowed the carriages to negotiate the twisting route of the siding.

The Wagons

Two types of wagons operated at the works.
  • Open roofed coal wagons. See picture. These brought coal directly to the barricades of the pan houses where it was unloaded ready for use in the stoves.
  • Covered salt wagons. The salt wagons were covered in order to protect the salt from rain. The pitched-roofed variety dates to the 1900s. Later salt wagons after the 1940s had roofs that were barrelled.
The salt wagon now located at the site is not original to the works but was brought to the site by the Lion Salt Works Trust in the 1990s.

The van was probably built in Wakefield in c. 1900 by Charles Roberts and Co. The remains of painted lettering on the side of the van show that it was originally part of a fleet owned by Chance and Hunt Ltd of Oldbury, Wednesbury and Stafford. The company was absorbed by Brunner Mond and Co Ltd in 1917 before being taken over by ICI Ltd in 1927. The remains of ICI lettering are still visible overwriting the original lettering. Previous surveys (1991) have noted that it is possible to see the words [repairs advise] and [Winsford].


At the end of its working life it remained at ICI sidings in Northwich until 1977. It then passed into the hands of the Conway and Llanrwst Railway Society, North Wales. In 1987 members of the Foxfield Light Railway helped transfer the van from Dyserth Quarry to Blaenau-Ffestiniog, where it formed part of a private collection belonging to Mr R Morris. The wagon was brought to the Lion Salt Works in September 1991 and has remained on the private railway sidings since.

Road – The Loading Bay

During the final years salt was taken directly from the works to the docks at Liverpool using road transport. Vans would back up to loading bay beside Stove House 4. Salt would be packed directly from Stove House 4, the Packing Area and Stove House 2 into the vans. This was how the Lagos Salt was exported.


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