Cheshire's Lion Salt Works Museum urges supporters to use their vote as it welcomes back its newly-restored salt wagon

4 July 2016

Today, (Monday 4 July) Cheshire’s Lion Salt Works Museum welcomed back its newly-restored £27,000 salt wagon. It used its return to urge everyone to support the Museum’s bid to become one of the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects by voting for it in a nationwide public vote. The Museum beat stiff competition to get short-listed for the best Heritage project of the 2016 National Lottery Awards. To become the winner, the Museum must now win a vote against six other projects. To vote for the Museum, supporters can go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 836 9674 by midnight on 20 July.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I am delighted our salt wagon is the centrepiece of our campaign to become the best Heritage Project of the National Lottery Awards. Salt wagons, now a rarity, were once a common sight across Cheshire and the North-West but now few people remember their distinctive wagons with their pitch roof, designed to drain rainwater away from the salt bags.  This is a wonderful example of the region’s history being saved for future generations and I hope will encourage everyone to vote for the Lion Salt Works before the deadline of 20 July.” The £27,000 restoration of the salt wagon was made possible by a £20,000 grant from Association for Industrial Archaeology and was organised by the Lion Salt Works Museum’s Trustees. Restoration work took place at the Llangollen Railway and Carriage Works in Denbighshire, North Wales.

The Lion Salt Works, located near Northwich in Cheshire, is one of the only open-pan, salt-making sites in the world and is an Ancient Scheduled Monument. The restoration of the Museum was only possible thanks to a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Museum tells the story of salt, both regionally and globally, through fun and interactive displays and a year-long programme of activities (see westcheshiremuseums.co.uk). Since opening in June 2015, the Museum has won six awards, including two hotly-contended national awards for conservation and restoration from the Civic Trust and Museum and Heritage.


About the Salt Wagon

The Museum’s wagon was probably made in the early 1900s. At this time, salt wagons were most frequently used on branch lines to transport the salt from the works to the main railway station; in this case, the two miles to Northwich station. The wagons moved using a windlass housed in the Lion Salt Works’ Pump House, powered by an horizontal steam engine (thought to be a ‘Marcus Allen’ engine, though there is no maker’s name on the engine). The salt was then usually sent by rail to Liverpool, much of which would have been transported worldwide for use as table salt, for salting fish or for industrial purposes.

Nick Hunt, Chairman of Lion Salt Works Museum Trustees, said: “The Salt Wagon presented a considerable restoration challenge as the wagon had been out in all weathers for decades. Added to this was the damage done by the salt to both the wood inside the wagon and its corrosive impact on the supporting metalwork. John Davies and his expert team at the Llangollen Carriage Works have done a fantastic restoration job. We are also very grateful to the Association of Industrial Archaeology in recognising and supporting us with this project.”

Mark Sissons, former Chairman, Association for Industrial Archaeology, said: “The Association works tirelessly to save the country’s industrial archaeology and the restoration of the Museum’s salt wagon is one of the moments that make everything worthwhile. The Lion Salt Works is a fantastic industrial heritage site and to return the wagon to its original setting is something very special. We are delighted that this important link in the salt story has been saved.”

Peter Lund, Chairman, Llangollen Railway Carriage and Wagon Works, said: “This has been a significant restoration with great attention being taken to use as much of the original timber as possible. This is challenging when the salt is so corrosive to both wood and metal. I am very pleased with the result.”


Newly-restored salt wagon at the Lion Salt Works 


An archive picture of salt wagons on the move

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