Lion Salt Works Museum ‘Celebration’ Event is a Winner
A special Celebration Event was held yesterday (Monday 13 July) to thank people responsible for the successful restoration and refurbishment of the Lion Salt Works Museum, near Northwich in Cheshire. The Museum – owned and operated by Cheshire West and Chester Council – is one of the last four historic open-pan salt-making sites in the world and was opened to the public on May 29, 2015 after a four-year restoration programme costing £10m.
The line-up of guests at the Celebration included funders from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Manage+ (an European Union funded project) and WREN, a not-for-profit organisation that awards funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund. This was also a proud day for Lion Salt Works Trustees, some of whom have spent more than 30 years working towards saving the Works. Also present were local Councillors, project managers, archaeologists, museum staff as well as representatives from Wates Construction, architects, Donald Insall and Becks Interiors. The Council also paid tribute to volunteers who have given time to take tours or build and maintain the Butterfly Garden.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Wellbeing, Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The Lion Salt Works project has attracted an outstanding team of people who have quite literally taken a crumbling wreck and turned it into a unique heritage attraction that is so outstanding that it won two awards before officially opening to the public at the end of last month.
“This transformation is due to the dedication, professionalism and determination of everyone involved, particularly our funding partners. This wonderful yet complex restoration project would not have been possible without their support. What they have produced is a legacy of excellence for Northwich, Cheshire and the country.”
Councillor Stuart Parker, Opposition Spokesman for Culture, Leisure & Wellbeing, Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The vision for the Lion Salt Works was to save a unique part of Cheshire life so that people could understand the landscape, history, industry and flora of what’s around them. I’m delighted that visitor numbers are already so high and that school groups are being thrilled by the interactive displays as well as enjoying the Butterfly Garden and imaginative play area. It is fantastic that the Museum is already proving itself to be one of the finest industrial heritage attractions in the country.”
Nick Hunt, Chairman, Lion Salt Works Trust, said: “To be part of saving something really special for future generations is a rare privilege. It wasn’t always easy but the whole project shows what can be produced by a team with a vision. We are delighted with the results.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £5.29m to the Lion Salt Works under its Heritage Grants Scheme. Sara Hilton, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: “It has been a privilege to be part of saving the Lion Salt Works and I am delighted to hear about the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Museum from visitors, schools and the local community. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this extensive restoration project has not only saved these at risk, derelict buildings but the full story of the salt industry in Cheshire – which explains so much about the social and industrial heritage, culture and landscape of the region – can be properly told for the first time.
Catherine Dewar, Planning and Conservation Director for Historic England in the North West, said: “We’re delighted that our expertise and a grant of £300,000 have both helped save Lion Salt Works and give it new life. We can now all enjoy a heritage site that is fit for the 21st century, providing all the facilities that today’s visitors expect, and which shows us how salt was produced.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council also paid tribute to the contribution of other funders. The European Union’s Manage+ programme contributed £280,000 to create a centre for local businesses with conference facilities. In addition, support was provided by the Butterfly Conservation Trust (Cheshire & Peak District Branch) with grant assistance from Ineos. A £54,000 grant was given by WREN for the construction of an interesting, fun and imaginative play area. WREN is a not-for-profit organisation and awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.
The Lion Salt Works is one of the last four historic open-pan salt-making sites in the world. The site’s unique industrial heritage and the fact that it presents the survival of salt practices passed hand-to-hand back to the Romans is recognised by the Museum. The Museum has been granted Scheduled Ancient Monument status and is an Anchor Point for the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH), a network of the most important industrial heritage sites in Europe.
This new ‘living museum’ gives a fascinating and fresh insight into the story of salt, explaining the national significance of Cheshire’s salt industry and how it shaped the local people, economy and landscape. This is brought to life in the Museum with fun, interactive and imaginative educational exhibits, including a walk-in ‘subsiding house’. Theatrical lighting, sound and film also evoke the giant clouds of steam once produced by the site’s huge salt-boiling pans.