Lion Salt Works museum opens after £10m restoration

museum exterior and canal Image copyright Cheshire West and Chester Council
Image caption The Lion Salt Works used to export to Africa, America and India

A former Cheshire salt works has reopened to the public as a museum after a £10.2m restoration.

The Grade II-listed Lion Salt Works, near Northwich, produced salt since its opening in 1894 but closed in 1986.

A four-year project used traditional construction skills and most of the original building material, Cheshire West and Chester Council said.

It added the museum, which also has a butterfly conservation area, aims to be "a valued resource" locally.

The restoration received a £5.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £3m from the site's current owners Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Lion Salt Works also featured on the BBC's Restoration programme in 2004, attracting more than 32,000 votes, but missed out on a place in the competition's final.

It is one of four historic open-pan salt-making sites in the world.

Cheshire's salt industry

Image copyright Cheshire West and Cheshire Council
  • The Cheshire plain has deep deposits of salt beneath it - a legacy of the shallow salt marshes formed during the Triassic period
  • The Romans were the first to boil the substance bubbling up from natural brine pits to create salt crystals
  • Roman soldiers were often paid in salt - from which the word salary is derived
  • The industry also boosted the fortunes of some Liverpudlians leading to the creation of the city's Salthouse Dock
  • The suffix "wich" - in places such as Northwich, Nantwich and Middlewich - refers to the presence of salt

Source: Cheshire West and Chester Council

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