Lion Salt Works artists impression

Lion Salt Works renovation moves closer

Cheshire West & Chester Council has appointed Wates Construction for the £8m restoration of the historic Lion Salt Works in Marston near Northwich.

Wates will work with restoration contractors William Anelay, which has already carried out initial enabling works to make the site safe and ensure each of the elements are recorded. Subject to planning consent, restoration of the 19th Century open pan salt works will begin in April.

John Shannon, business unit director of Wates Construction in the North West, said: "We are delighted to have been chosen as partners on this restoration project, which will see us working within Marston's community.

"We have extensive experience in heritage refurbishment and are committed to ensuring the redevelopment of this Scheduled Ancient Monument will be led with the utmost care and commitment."

Cllr Stuart Parker, member for culture and recreation, said: "With a track record spanning 40 years in the restoration of cultural and heritage buildings, we are confident that Wates brings the expertise a project of this sensitivity demands.

Industrial archaeologist Chris Hewitson will be responsible for monitoring, investigating and recording the buildings and finds unearthed during excavations.

The salt works is expected to re-open in spring 2014 as a 'living museum', providing a unique insight into a period in history when Cheshire produced 86% of the nation's salt.

Visitors will be able to explore the restored buildings, discover how the salt works operated and find out how the industry impacted upon Cheshire's people, economy and landscape.

The project is being funded by a £5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant and a £3m contribution from the council.

Lion Salt Works was established in 1894 by the Thompson family and remained in their ownership through five generations. Salt was produced by evaporating brine over an open fire in large lead pans.

It ceased trading in 1986 and was purchased by the former Vale Royal Borough Council. A Scheduled Ancient Monument, it is the last open pan salt works in the UK and one of only three remaining in the world.

The planning application is due to be considered by the council's planning committee on 20 March.

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