A restoration team led by project managers Turner & Townsend and Wates Construction has started on site to bring the Victorian open pan salt works in Northwich back into use as a visitor attraction.
The buildings declined after production ceased in 1986. The site sits over a partially collapsed and flooded rock salt mine and suffered subsidence from brine extraction. It is a listed scheduled ancient monument and the only open pan salt works remaining in the UK.
An £8m restoration project is being funded by £3m from site owner Cheshire West & Chester Council and £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Turner & Townsend with Donald Insall Associate as the conservation architects have worked to develop safe and compliant methodologies for the restoration of what has become a series of unsafe timber structures. Geotechnical engineers at Arup completed a study to prove the site was suitable for safe public use and public investment.
Emma Birkett, senior project manager at Turner & Townsend, said: "When complete, this visitor attraction will be enjoyed by many generations to come and help define the very fabric and industrial heritage of our region."
The project was tendered via the North West Construction Hub in 2011, with the process of agreeing scope methodologies and cost taking just over one year to complete. Wates Construction is working alongside specialist heritage contractor William Anelays.
The project will take 18 months to complete and the museum is set to open to the public in summer 2014.