The White Salt Industry - Production, Transport and Impacts

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Date and Time



Lion Salt Works

Ollershaw Lane



United Kingdom

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Refund Policy

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

Event description



SATURDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2018, 10.45 -17.00

(Free Parking available on-site)

ENTRY £25.00 including coffee and buffet lunch


Bookings open from 1 Aug 2018
on eventbrite.co.uk

Event timetable

09:30 Registration starts

10:45 Introduction by Jonathan Aylen

11:00 Saltscape Geology and Subsidence by Ros Todhunter

11:45 White Salt Production by Andrew Fielding

12:30 Buffet Lunch

13:15 White Salt Transport by Mike Nevell

14:00 Historical Wild Brine Pumping at Lion Salt Works by Juan Cunliffe

14:45 Coffee Break

15.00 Historical Wild Brine Pumping at Murgatroyds Works Middlewich by Kerry Kirwan and Steve Broadfoot

15.45 Modern Controlled Brine Extraction by Jon Whieldon

16:30 Summary by Jonathan Aylen

Further Information: www.newcomen.com
E-mail: meetings.north.western@newcomen.com
Booking from 1 Aug 2018: www.eventbrite.com

You will not need a museum ticket to attend the Symposium and the Symposium ticket does not include access to the museum.

The Symposium is organised by the North West Branch of the Newcomen Society (Registered Charity 215410 ), in association with Cheshire West Museums, the Lion Salt Works Trust and Middlewich Heritage Trust.


Introduction/Summary - Jonathan Aylen

Jonathan is Vice-President of the Newcomen Society for the study of the History of Engineering and Technology and Chair of Newcomen in the North-West. He has published papers and books on cold-war technology, on steel rolling and on steel technology as well as papers on forecasting, economics and environmental management. He is currently researching the history of computerisation at British Rail.

Saltscape Geology and Subsidence - Rosalind Todhunter

The geologically diverse and unusual landscape in and around the Cheshire salt towns of Northwich, Middlewich and Winsford is the product of over 200 million years of geological history and 2000 years of continuous salt extraction. Geodiversity is the foundation of landscape, underpinning biodiversity from microscopic fungi in soil to mature woodlands, ancient human culture to industrial development. We will explore the geological and industrial contributions that created these significant geodiversity sites in Cheshire’s salt landscape.

Dr Rosalind Todhunter BSc PhD FGS CGeol did research on lunar lava flows way back in the 1970s, then went on to work as a geologist with British Coal and a consultant geologist in mining, quarrying and site investigations. This was followed by lecturing in geology and geophysics mainly at Staffordshire University and the Open University. Ros has led many field trips throughout Cheshire, in particular to investigate salt bearing strata from surface features and geophysics. She is a member of the 'Cheshire Regionally Important Geodiversity Sites Group' and participated in the Saltscape Project. She lives near Northwich surrounded by brine wells and underground gas storage cavities and just down the road from the Trent and Mersey Canal with its numerous salt subsidence flashes.

White Salt Production - Andrew Fielding

A starting point for this talk will be an opening comment by Dr William Brownrigg in 'The Art of Making Common Salt', 1748:
"..many things relating to this art are recorded by Cato and Pliny the Naturalist. And, if we search the writings of the moderns, we shall find the improvements in this art are fully collected by George Agricola, Frederick Hoffman and many other excellent physicians ; to which body of men we are chiefly indebted for those memoirs, that have been transmitted to us, relating to its history. Had those great men been as diligent in improving this art, as they were in recording the improvements made in it by others, there would not now have been occasion to remark, that, after the practice of so many ages, an art so simple and withal so necessary hath not yet been brought to any great degree of perfection."

Andrew Fielding worked for Vale Royal Borough Council as Project Director for the restoration of the Lion Salt Works from 1989 to 2010 and as part of A&A Fielding Ltd is now a heritage consultant. In 2011-12 he worked with Bournemouth University on the ECOSAL-Atlantis project funded by the European Union to link heritage salina sites along the European Atlantic coastline from which he formed Ecosal-UK as a legacy project to promote the study of historic salt making processes and associated cultures in the UK. He is an Honorary Research Associate at Salford University and a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

White Salt Transport - Mike Nevell

This talk looks at the development of the transport systems used to distribute white salt in Britain from the key production sites on the coast and inland followed by some case studies of surviving technology. The transport networks include, before the 18th century, pack horses, carts and salt routes. In the 18th century new canal systems and river navigations became an important transport technology and in the 19th century the railway system, before motorised transport took over in the 20th century. Major surviving transport monuments relating particularly the inland salt industry, include the Weaver Navigation, the Anderton Boat lift and the Lion Salt Works' salt wagon.

Dr Mike Nevell is senior lecturer and head of archaeology in the centre for Applied archaeology at the University of Salford. He is an industrial archaeologist with more than 30 years' experience; his research interest include the salt industry, canals and railways and landscape archaeology. He is Chair of the Association for Industrial Archaeology.

Wild Brine Pumping at Lion Salt Works - Juan Cunliffe

The presentation will describe the equipment used to raise the” wild brine” from the “wet rock head” to the brine cistern for subsequent distribution by gravity to the salt pans. Images of an extensive range of artefacts forming the “brine train” from the brine pump immersed in the wild brine to the brine cistern and the “brine pump drive train” from the steam engine via the “Nodding Donkey” to the brine piston pump will be displayed. In the mid 1930s the original source of “wild” brine for the Lion Salt Works became increasingly unreliable and a lined borehole was sunk at a new location on the site to a depth of 46yards. This replaced the original 8ft square timber lined shaft dug in 1894. Brine was susbsequently pumped from the new borehole using a submersible electric pump.

Juan is a Chartered Electrical Engineer who spent much of his career supporting ICI assets in Mid-Cheshire. This involved him in the safe operation and maintenance of a range of high voltage electrical equipment, some manufactured as early as the beginning of the 1900’s (open type DC switchgear and DC generators and motors). This led to a fascination with old equipment and to his current activities as a volunteer with the Lion Salt Works Trust.

Wild Brine Pumping at Murgatroyds - Kerry Kirwan and Steve Broadfoot

An overview of the Murgatroyd Company, explaining the importance of George Murgatroyd’s find of Rock Salt in Middlewich and the discovery of the brine stream. We explore this unique scheduled monument to uncover the different stages of the site, what the brine was used for and how Brunner and Mond were able to purchase his chemical works. Why is this the last intact set of brine pumps still in situ in the UK while others were dismantled? An explanation of the current project to save and repair the Brine Pumps and remove them from the ‘at risk’ register. A discussion about what has happened to the site to date, and what it is that we are trying to achieve. A volunteer’s story of the practicalities of working on an 1889 installation, together with the technical details of the work facing us in the light of new evidence uncovered

Kerry Kirwan is Heritage Development Officer for Middlewich Heritage Trust, employed by Middlewich Town Council. Her role is to work on heritage projects within Middlewich with particular involvement of ‘at risk’ sites, to engage schools and the local community with their heritage and make heritage accessible for all. This is a multi-task role which also involves partnership working with museums, conservation and archaeology. Her background is in arts and education, a former lecturer, education officer and visitor services coordinator. BA (Hons) in Humanities, (Arts and Classical Studies) PGCE.
Steve Broadfoot is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer who has spent his career designing, installing and refurbishing pumps and pumping installations for the power, oil, chemical and water industries.
Since retiring from full time employment, he has lectured widely on pump-related topics. He is now combining his technical experience with his interest in Industrial History by providing technical input to projects undertaken by the Middlewich Heritage Trust, particularly with the brine pump refurbishment project.

Modern Controlled Brine Extraction - Jon Whieldon

The presentation will cover the development of controlled solution mining techniques by ICI at Holford and Preesall from the 1930’s to the present day. It will aim to show the differences between this approach and the historic practice of Wild Brine Pumping and will cover the typical life cycle of a brine winning cavity.

Jon has worked as a Chemical Engineer over the past 30 years in a variety of production and technical roles supporting ICI/Ineos/Inovyn Chlor-Alkali assets in the UK. He has been working for Inovyn as the Operations Manager at the Holford Brinefield for the last 10 years and is currently overseeing the development of a new phase of borehole drilling at the site.


What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

The best way to arrive is by canal boat. The rest of us should be able to park on site. Public transport will involve a lengthy walk. See http://lionsaltworks.westcheshiremuseums.co.uk for further information.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

e-mail us at meetings.north.western@newcomen.com

What's the refund policy?

We can arrange a refund up to 30 days before the event.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Please do so as this will speed up the registration process.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferable?

Yes, but you must provide the name of the registered person and the name of the replacement person at least five days in advance.

How do I arrange a special diet lunch?

e-mail your requirements to us at meetings.north.western@newcomen.com at least 3 weeks before the event. We shall pass on your requirements to our caterer but cannot guarantee the caterer's ability to meet them.

Does the Symposium ticket include access to the Lion Salt Works Museum?

There will not be time to see the museum on the day of the Symposium so access to the museum is not included.

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Date and Time


Lion Salt Works

Ollershaw Lane



United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

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