A COLOSSAL challenge to save a unique part of Middlewich heritage is nearing completion.

The restoration of Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump was almost finished when lockdown struck and everything ground to a halt.

The scheduled monument is the only intact pumps over an original hand-dug shaft left in Britain.

Work has now resumed and should be completed in two months.

The site will open as a visitor centre next April. A new video has been produced by Middlewich Heritage Trust to show just how much has been achieved.

Kerry Kirwan, heritage development officer and project manager, said: "We are very proud of what we have done. The whole thing would have been crumbling down. When we came on site in 2008, the walls were coming down, the doors had rotten away, it was a mess."

Winsford Guardian:

This is how the crumbling monument looked in 2008 when emergency salvage work started

Thanks to £400,000 funding from bodies including Historic England, Heritage Fund and Association of Industrial Archaeology, specialists and volunteers have saved the site which dates back to 1889.

The late retired chemical engineer George Twigg played a vital role in the restoration.

"He was part of the team that documented the saltworks before it was knocked down." said Kerry. "He was an unbelievable man and donated his entire archive of more than 3,000 items to us."

Documents, maps, drawings, photographs and films have been digitised in a virtual museum on a new website.

"We need to make people aware of this site," said Kerry. "Living in a town that has this amazing connection with salt is a very rare thing.

READ > Stylist 'overwhelmed' by feedback to new fashion boutique in Middlewich

"The process hasn't changed that much in over 2,000 years. People don't realise that without salt your house would fall down. We couldn't live without it."

An activity space will be created to explain how the process worked.

"Everything is going to be interpreted so people can understand what happened here," said Kerry. "Middlewich is very rich in history but doesn't have a museum. The community can't engage with its own heritage.

"Our priority is for the public to have access to the history of salt making in Middlewich. We want to draw more visitors into the town.

"This site could be the start of a bigger museum of the future."

Visit https://www.middlewich-heritage.org.uk/art-murgatroyds-brine-pump/