A NEW visitor centre has been created to celebrate the salt heritage of Middlewich.

The restoration of Murgatroyd's Brine Pump has finally been completed and plans are now underway to showcase the fascinating history of this unique site.

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

Emergency salvage work started in 2008 to preserve the crumbling monument and, thanks to £400,000 funding from various bodies, specialists and volunteers have saved the site which dates back to 1889.

Lockdown struck just as the project neared completion so it has been a labour of love to finish the project during all the Covid restrictions.

Kerry Kirwan, heritage development officer and project manager, said: "The pump house looks brilliant, a far cry from what we started with.

"It is worth the stress to finally see the building and pumps at their best and saved for future generations.

"We are all looking forward to showing off the site, the first visitor centre for Middlewich dedicated to our town's salt heritage."

READ > Middlewich ghost hunters make fascinating discoveries

Winsford Guardian: Murgatroyd's Brine Pump now fully restoredMurgatroyd's Brine Pump now fully restored

Murgatroyd's Brine Pump now fully restored

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

Plans are now being developed to bring the site to life by telling the pump's story in words and pictures.

"We are working with volunteers on additional interpretation material," said Kerry. "Together we have come up with a few ideas, combinations of interpretation boards, visitor guides, mapping, labelling and images plus guided talks on site to not only relate the fascinating history of Murgatroyd's but also to tie into Middlewich Salt through the ages."

Families will be able to explore the centre and learn about local history.

"We want to bring it to life and make it fun," said Kerry. "We want it to be an enjoyable day out. We will be dovetailing with Lion Salt Works and Catalyst Museum. It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. It's great that we have other established places where families can learn more about the chemical industry and the vital role it plays in our everyday lives."

The team is also updating presentations and resources they share with children on school visits which have had to be put on hold during lockdown.

"We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved," said Kerry. "Volunteers have been marvellous.We have also received great support from our funders, partnership organisations and Middlewich Town Councillors.

"We have already received a great response from people saying they can't wait to come and visit us. We are hoping to open at the beginning of May.

"To begin with it will be invitation and bookings only. It will be surprising for people to see how much we have achieved."

To learn more visit middlewich-heritage.org.uk/murgatroyds-salt-and-chemical-works