Cheshire West & Chester Council's £8m restoration of Lion Salt Works into a museum is close to completion, with an open day at the formerly derelict site in Northwich scheduled this autumn. [GALLERY]
Wates Construction started on site in April 2012, and is working alongside restoration specialist William Anelay and the council's industrial archaeologist Chris Hewitson to create the heritage visitor attraction.
Lion Salt Works is the last pan salt works in the UK and one of only three remaining in the world. It ceased trading in 1986 and was granted scheduled ancient monument status.
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Cheshire West & Chester Council will host a heritage open day on 13 September to showcase the restoration works. Following an internal fit-out the full museum is due to open in spring 2015.
The project, which is financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, includes a working museum to showcase Cheshire's salt-mining history.
The team restored two existing pan houses and three stove houses, to be the historic core of the museum. Wates constructed a two-storey visitor centre, which has used recycled materials from the site.
The Red Lion pub next to the salt works has been renovated to become an educational area, office space and a Victorian-themed pub.
As a scheduled ancient monument, much of the restoration has had to rely on manual construction methods because of the building's fragile structure. This included the removal of 600 tonnes of material by wheelbarrow.
The building's original timber frame rotted away over time as a result of salt penetration. This frame has been kept so visitors can see the impact of salt on the decay of the building, but has been supported by a new timber and steel structure.
The lean of the existing stove house has been maintained through the installation of steel cables. In the interests of safety, one of the tilting chimneys has been fitted with a SIM card to alert the emergency services if it starts to fall over.
Wates is currently completing external works and the construction of a car park.
Tony Shenton, business unit director of Wates Construction North West, said: "With over 40 years of heritage restoration experience to the Wates name, Lion Salt Works has been a project that we have really been able to sink our teeth into.
"The nature of the building's use left it in a very delicate state and this project has seen us take this important industrial building down to its bare bones and build it back up again, transforming it into a lasting legacy of Cheshire's salt processing heritage."
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