The Lion Salt Works Museum in Northwich is preparing to welcome back its newly-restored £27,000 salt wagon.
The venue will use its return to urge everyone to support the museum’s bid to become one of the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects by voting for it in a nationwide public vote.
The museum beat stiff competition to get short-listed for the Best Heritage Project of the 2016 National Lottery Awards. To become the winner, the museum must now win a vote against six other projects.
To vote for the museum, supporters can go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 836 9674 by midnight on July 20.
Cabinet member for communities and wellbeing at Cheshire West and Chester Council Cllr Louise Gittins said: “I am delighted our salt wagon is the centrepiece of our campaign to become the Best Heritage Project of the National Lottery Awards.
“Salt wagons, now a rarity, were once a common sight across Cheshire and the North West but now few people remember their distinctive wagons with their pitch roof, designed to drain rainwater away from the salt bags. This is a wonderful example of the region’s history being saved for future generations and I hope will encourage everyone to vote for the Lion Salt Works before the deadline of July 20.”
The £27,000 restoration of the salt wagon was made possible by a £20,000 grant from Association for Industrial Archaeology and was organised by the Lion Salt Works Museum’s trustees.
Restoration work took place at the Llangollen Railway and Carriage Works in Denbighshire, North Wales.
The Lion Salt Works is one of the only open-pan, salt-making sites in the world and is an Ancient Scheduled Monument.
The restoration of the museum was only possible thanks to a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The museum tells the story of salt, both regionally and globally, through fun and interactive displays and a year-long programme of activities.
Since opening in June 2015, the museum has won six awards, including two hotly-contended national awards for conservation and restoration from the Civic Trust and museum and heritage.
The museum’s wagon was probably made in the early 1900s. At this time, salt wagons were most frequently used on branch lines to transport the salt from the works to the main railway station; in this case, the two miles to Northwich station.
The wagons moved using a windlass housed in the Lion Salt Works’ Pump House, powered by an horizontal steam engine (thought to be a Marcus Allen engine, though there is no maker’s name on the engine).
The salt was then usually sent by rail to Liverpool, much of which would have been transported worldwide for use as table salt, for salting fish or for industrial purposes.
Chairman of Lion Salt Works Museum trustees Nick Hunt said: “The Salt Wagon presented a considerable restoration challenge as the wagon had been out in all weathers for decades. Added to this was the damage done by the salt to both the wood inside the wagon and its corrosive impact on the supporting metalwork.
“John Davies and his expert team at the Llangollen Carriage Works have done a fantastic restoration job.
“We are also very grateful to the Association of Industrial Archaeology in recognising and supporting us with this project.”
Former chairman of the Association for Industrial Archaeology Mark Sissons said: “The association works tirelessly to save the country’s industrial archaeology and the restoration of the museum’s salt wagon is one of the moments that make everything worthwhile.
“The Lion Salt Works is a fantastic industrial heritage site and to return the wagon to its original setting is something very special. We are delighted that this important link in the salt story has been saved.”