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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Lion Saltworks Rises from Ashes

There’s great news for Cheshire history fans – funding to restore Northwich’s famous Lion Saltworks at Marston has been agreed at last. There’s a new blog where you can see updates on the works and photos of the restoration work.

Salt was made by evaporation in huge pans at the works, which were owned by the Thompson family. Salt was transported in narrowboats along the Trent & Mersey Canal down to the Anderton Boat Lift, then continued its journey along the River Weaver.
If your ancestors were Cheshire salt workers, I recently wrote a feature for BBC Who Do You Think You Are? on tracing your family tree.

There are plans to open the restored salt works to visitors again in 2014 as a ‘living museum’. It would be great if the new visitor centre could include salt-making demonstrations, but we’ll have to wait until more details are available to find out.
Update June 2014: the proposed opening date for the newly restored Lion Saltworks is now spring 2015. We drove past the site recently and it's beginning to look very spick and span.

Photo: Lion Saltworks prior to restoration. A salt waggon at the Lion Saltworks, Marston. © Sue Wilkes.


Anonymous said...

Hi, my great grandfather is John J Thompson. His father owned the Lion Salt works, I believe it would have been Henry? He immigrated to Canada, and settled in Edmonton Alberta. I don't know his birthdate. He had a falling out with the family in England. I'm curious to know the scandalous side of the Thompson family. I believe they were not the best employers. Thanks!

Sue Wilkes said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by. The salt Thompson family tree is quite complicated. Was your ancestor Henry Ingram Thompson? His father John Thompson junior (1824-1899) and grandfather John Thompson senior (1790-1867) owned the saltworks. A brother of Henry Ingram Thompson, James Edwin, emigrated to America.
The expert on the Lion Saltworks is Andrew Fielding - he has published some books on the salt industry, including 'A Guide to the Lion Salt Works, Marston', 2000. The Lion Salt Works Trust, which published the book, may be able to give you more info on the family. You could also try searching the British Newspaper Archive online - alternatively you could contact the Northwich Guardian via letter/email - its readers may have memories of the Thompson family and the Works.I hope this helps with your quest. Best wishes,

Odessa said...

A John James Thompson was born 2 DEC 1871 in Northwich the son of Jabez Thompson and Sarah Edwards, to the best of my knowledge he died 22 DEC 1959 at Edmonton, Canada

Jabez Thompson managed the Alliance Salt Works c.1869 (Slater's Trade Directory) but was best known for his Brick and Terracotta Works.

Could this John James Thompson be your great-grandfather?

The early Thompson family had strong convictions regarding temperance and religion which may be a clue worth investigating.


Sue Wilkes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Wilkes said...

Thanks for the info, Odessa. Dear Anonymous, if you'd like to get in touch via email, Odessa has offered to share info she has collected on the Thompson family tree.

DdGray said...

Hi, your great-grandfather John James Thompson was my grandfather. Interested to know which of his children you came from. I am his youngest child Florence's youngest daughter. Jabez (the brick maker) was his father and John Sr. was Jabez father. I too would love to know more about the old family secrets and what led to JJ taking his inheritance and moving an already large family to Canada. Would also love to trace further back from John Thompson Sr. but with a name as common as that I am at a loss

DdGray said...

If I have duplicated this post, I apologize. John J Thompson was my grandfather. His youngest child Florence was my mother and I am her youngest. Jabez was his father (the brick maker) and John Thompson Sr. was Jabez father. I have also wondered about what led to JJ taking his inheritance and already large family and moving to Canada. Would also love to find info about the ancestors or John Thompson Sr., but have trouble researching due to the number of John Thompsons in England.

Sue Wilkes said...

Hi DDGray, see my reply to the first Anonymous post re the Thompson family. It can be very difficult tracking a common surname like that - try using the censuses, and meticulously check the names of children or siblings to make sure that you are researching the correct 'John Thompson'.