A PAINSTAKING project to restore a heritage landmark in Middlewich has reached a huge milestone.

Historic England have announced that Murgatroyd’s Brine Works on Brooks Lane is to be officially removed from the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register following the successful completion of grant aided repair works.

A new visitor centre to celebrate the town’s salt heritage has now been created on the site of this ancient monument and will open in September.

Kerry Kirwan, Middlewich Town Council’s heritage officer, has been personally working on the challenging venture for 13 years.

This unique structure is the only intact pump over an original hand-dug shaft left in Britain.

Kerry said:“I am very proud of the work that we have done to restore and interpret our unique brine pumps.

“It has taken an extraordinary length of time to reach this stage and this welcome announcement by Historic England is a real milestone and reward for the many volunteers who have worked alongside me on this project and given their skills freely.

“This will ensure that the public finally get to enjoy the completed monument and to explore its history.

“The work will be ongoing to maintain the brine pumps.”

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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 restoration during all theCovid restrictions.

But the dedicated team persevered.

Heritage site no longer at risk

Heritage site no longer at risk

The unique heritage site is no longer at risk

“The pump house looks brilliant, a far cry from what we started with,” said Kerry.

“We are all looking forward to showing off the site, the first visitor centre in Middlewich dedicated to our town’s salt heritage.”

Photographs, documents, maps, drawings and films have been digitised in a virtual museum on a new website and interpretation boards will be on display.

The site will be brought to life by telling the pump’s story in words and pictures.

“We want to bring it to life and make it fun,” said Kerry. “We want it to be an enjoyable day out.

“We are working with volunteers on additional interpretation material.

“Together we have come up with a few ideas, 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.”

The first visitors will be welcomed during heritage open days on September 18 and 19.

For more details visit middlewich-heritage.org.uk/art-murgatroyds-brine-pump/