A NEW visitor centre to celebrate the painstaking restoration of a heritage landmark is about to open.

Murgatroyd’s Brine Works on Brooks Lane have been saved.

After 12 years of community and volunteer help, people will finally be able to discover the fascinating history of this ancient monument.

The first open days will be held on September 18 and 19, from 12 noon to 4pm.

Murgatroyd Brine Pump

Murgatroyd's Brine Works after the restoration

Kerry Kirwan, Middlewich Town Council’s heritage officer, who has been personally working on the challenging venture from the start, said: "Not only are the brine pumps safe for future generations, but the site is now off Historic England’s buildings at risk register, a real achievement.

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

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This unique structure 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.

"It’s been a hard project, certainly a big learning curve," said Kerry.

Murgatroyd Brine Pump

Murgatroyd Brine Pump before the restoration

"Middlewich resident Fred Bunn, an ex salt worker who helped me with the Wych and Water project in 2007-2009 asked: 'What are you going to do with Murgies?'

"I didn’t know then that there was anything left. So I found myself standing in an overgrown industrial site looking at a derelict building.

"We made our way through the undergrowth to a damaged side panel and peeped through. There sat a complete set of brine pumps and associated machinery, locked away since 1977. And that was it, the start of an ambitious plan to restore the site to its former glory."

Kerry wants to thank all the funders Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cheshire East Council, the Association for Industrial Archaeology and supporters Middlewich Heritage Society and Middlewich Town Council.

"Looking at the building from the same spot many years later we can all be proud of the blood, sweat and tears put into it," said Kerry.

The site tells the story of salt and chemical production in Middlewich and the vision of owner George Murgatroyd who found rock salt and the brine stream in Middlewich and was responsible for the town’s industry boom.

The event is free, no need to book. People can just turn up.