By Brenda Smethurst - 19th March 2017 6:07am
A Celebration of Salt — The Story of Nantwich Brine
On Thursday evening during the ADHS meeting we were treated to an excellent talk on the history of the Nantwich salt industry, illustrated by a well-chosen slide show.
We were surprised to hear there were indeed 4 "wyches", not 3 as most of us supposed: Nantwich (with the purest and whitest salt), Middlewich, Northwich and Dirtwich, which lies between Whitchurch and Malpas.
There is evidence of Iron-Age salt production from the discovery of Briquetage pot remains which were made from locally-mined clay, but the Romans were the first to have proven production of salt in this area, supplying their Northern frontiers with this precious commodity. In 2 A.D there was a salt-making works in Kingsley Fields, Nantwich, and the Saxons made salt in the Snowshill area near today's swimming pool.
In 1070 there was only 1 wich (or salt) house and by 1086, when the Domesday survey took place, this had increased to 8 wich houses. During the 12th and 13th centuries the industry was centred mainly on the Wood Streets area off Welsh Row, but Nantwich was always slow in innovation in its salt production.
By the 16th and 17th centuries, when the industry was at its height, production methods had not advanced at all. Wood supplies in Cheshire then decreased and the industry in Nantwich declined due to high production costs, fuel problems (no coal available locally) and competition, especially from France. By 1856 the last wich house in Nantwich closed.
Graham explained how salt was a useful political tool throughout the ages and a source of revenue for the Government. For example, in 1774 one local business, which produced 500 tons of salt per annum, was taxed £5000 for that year, which would be equivalent to £500,000 today.
Graham concluded his talk by telling us about the local salt baths, in particular the Brine and Medical Baths opened in 1883 in Shrewbridge, but this too was a failure and closed in 1947. Nantwich Brine Pool for swimmers was opened in 1935, and of course is still going strong.
But it was a really poignant end for a once highly successful and long-lasting local industry, which Graham brought to life in a fascinating talk.
popular recent storiesAlso in the news
WIN an afternoon tea for two! National Afternoon Tea week, 14th-20th August is now upon us. To celebrate, Finefoodies' Deli & Cafe are delighted to give away "a fabulously fine Afternoon Tea for two" x 2. This includes their new special blend of Finefoodies' loose leaf tea. Simply go to their new Facebook Page, 'Finefoodies Deli Audlem' (click http...
Sad news We are sad to inform the readers of AudlemOnline that Simon Carey aged 62, passed away peacefully last Wednesday after a long illness. Simon was well known to the village in recent years for being the Head Butcher at Oxtail & Trotter. He was a gentle, caring man with a great sense of humour who will be sorely missed by many. Simon was truly dedicated to his chosen career as a Butcher...
The next major event in the village is the Annual Beer Festival at the Lord Combermere which this year is from 25th — 28th August. Mine Hosts Allan and Jo Brown have now released their expected list of available special ales and ciders a great selection of 25 Real Ales and 11 delicious ciders — Don't miss this great tasting event! Click on the PDF files to reveal all.! These lists are...
Saturday 19th Aug
Audlem Public Hall
Aston Methodist Church Hall
Time Trial & Road Race