LION Salt Works campaigners are calling on the public to help propel their funding fight to success.
Trustees have raised around £6m of the £7.2m needed to save the historic salt-producing site at Marston, but need the support of residents and businesses to find the outstanding amount by March.
Public support is vital to secure a £4.96m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which forms the vast majority of the money needed but which could be lost if campaigners cannot raise the remainder themselves.
Project director Andrew Fielding, of the Lion Salt Works Trust, said: 'This is our final push. Almost £6m of the £7m needed has already been pledged, but we still need to receive £1.2m in new pledges to be able to access the funding.'
The group is seeking corporate sponsors. Salt is included in more than 14,000 products and was a key foundation of Cheshire's wealth - and that of numerous local companies. Trustees want businesses, their contacts and suppliers to sponsor a Salt Block, through which trust members hope to secure thousands of small donations to support the restoration work. Residents can also sign up - forms can be collected from the Lion Salt Works, or downloaded from www.lionsaltworkstrust.co.uk. Each 'block' costs £15 and the donor will receive a certificate that features a picture of a ceremonial salt arch constructed in Northwich to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
Andrew added: 'We are already getting donations for various amounts and it all helps. Some people are giving us £10 a month, but with gift aid and match funding, we actually get £500 over the course of three years.'
Trustees are also hopeful a bid for £500,000 in funding from the North West Development Agency, which would fund almost half the outstanding £1.2m in one go, will be successful, with Andrew pointing out that by paying out £500k, the NWDA would get around £7m investment in the area.
Chairman of trustees Richard Hamlett said: 'There is a great opportunity for a wide section of Cheshire people to become actively involved in the restoration for the Lion Salt Works.'
The new website has been designed by Northwich company Designed4hits. MD Tom Smith, who as a boy had been given a train set including salt vans with the Lion Salt Works' name on the side, said: 'When I heard about the award offered from the Heritage Lottery Fund I had to find out how I could help the project succeed in getting its message across to the wider public.
'Websites are a fantastic way of doing that and Designed4hits is delighted at being able to contribute.'
THE £7m project aims to restore the Lion Salt Works' collection of buildings and workshops to become a working museum with salt making at the site.
Visitors will be able to see how both salt crystals and lump salt are made - and even buy samples at the end of their visit. The Lion Salt Works will also become an eco-museum, a centre of excellence where processes of renewable energy can be demonstrated.
Project director Andrew Fielding said: 'We often take for granted what is on our own doorstep - but around the world.
'The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the BBC and even the influential European Route of Industrial Heritage organisation have recognised its importance.
'These organisations have already pledged financial support for the Lion Salt Works and we are now asking local people to get behind the project and help save such an important part of our heritage.'
The Lion Salt Works has also been designated as a scheduled monument, giving it the same protection as landmarks like Stonehenge.