Sunday, 16 September 2018

Murgatroyd’s Brine Pumps receives funding support

 Middlewich Heritage Trust has received funding support from Historic England of £163,000, the Association for Industrial Archaeology of £17,000 and thanks to National Lottery Players, the Heritage Lottery Fund of £52,000 for the Restoration of Murgatroyd’s Brine Pumps.

Other funding support has also been granted through Middlewich Town Council and Middlewich Heritage Society as well as donations from the public to the Middlewich Heritage Trust bringing the total funding to £238,000

Murgatroyd's Brine Pumps are a scheduled monument on an historic Middlewich industrial site, and are the only intact pumps left in Britain that are located over an original hand-dug shaft. The site has historical significance as one of the last remains of Cheshire's large Salt Industry. It is significant locally as the shaft was responsible for the first 'find' of rock salt in Middlewich. It also tapped in to the brine stream that fed the town for 2,000 years. The site is currently on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register.

Thanks to support from the funders, the essential repairs will include:

  • Removal and restoration of the timber gantry
  • Stabilisation of the well head, shaft and associated timber and fittings
  • Removal of the pump buckets and rods within the shaft, salvaging what remains of the pump buckets and rebalancing the pumps to a safe position
  • Rebalance the pump beams; securing one in a safe position and modifying the drive of the other to   enable it to rotate slowly.
  • Recovering the submersible pump and conserving it for exhibition within the pump house.
Community restoration project

Overall the site has great historical value. Middlewich Heritage Trust’s aim is not only to restore but also to develop the site allowing volunteers, students and apprentices to work alongside professionals in the process. The end result will be a heritage site that the wider public can visit to learn about its significance to the history of Middlewich and Cheshire. This creates a community restoration project which will see an 'at risk' industrial building turned into a usable educational and visitor resource, creating opportunities for volunteers to learn new skills.

We also have a comprehensive technical and social archive of the site and its workforce from 1890 to 1977 which volunteers will help to make accessible to the wider public by digitising the records and creating a dedicated website.

Commenting on the award, Kerry Kirwan Heritage Development Officer said: “We’re delighted that we have received this support, thanks to our grant funders, National Lottery players and the general public. Murgatroyd’s brine pumps are a unique and important heritage resource, it’s great to know that we have a chance to preserve them and turn the site into a useable resource that creates opportunities for learning”

Charles Smith, Principal Heritage at Risk Advisor at Historic England said: “We’re pleased to have offered a grant of £162,750 towards the repair of this important part of Cheshire’s salt heritage. The brine pumps used to be one of the largest employers in Middlewich, and we’re excited about Middlewich Heritage Trust’s plans to get people involved with the site once again, sharing skills and working with volunteers”.

Middlewich Heritage Trust

The Trust’s purpose is the preservation and promotion of the heritage of Middlewich (including buildings, artefacts and archives) as a resource for the benefit of the residents of Cheshire East and of the wider public.

Historic England

We are the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment.

We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we've come from as a nation.

We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.

The Association for Industrial Archaeology

Britain was the first industrial nation and for the last three centuries industry has had a major influence on the society, environment and landscape in which we live; it shaped the country and its remains provide a link with the past that can also serve the future. The AIA is the national organisation for people who share an interest in Britain’s industrial past. It brings together groups and individuals with an interest and expertise in identifying, recording, preserving and presenting the remains of the industrial past.

For further information, images and interviews please contact:
Kerry Kirwan, Heritage Development Officer, Middlewich Heritage Trust: 01606 833434.:
If you would like to be involved with this project, please email

Saturday, 28 July 2018


The interpretation boards are being installed at Harbutt's Field and around the Town.

If you would like more information about this project, or about Middlewich Heritage Trust, please email

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


The new path tracing the outline of the fort and the main internal roads is now complete.

Gates which enable wheelchair users to access the site have been installed.

The next step will be installation of new interpretation panels here and at various places in the Town

Watch this space!

If you would like more information about this project, or about Middlewich Heritage Trust, please email

Friday, 29 June 2018


Work has started on the War Memorial in the Bullring at Middlewich.  The work, being undertaken by Maysand Ltd, a team of skilled and experienced stonemasons. will clean the memorial and will upgrade previous repairs.

When the cleaning and renovation is complete, the names of the following men who died as a result of their service in the First World War will be added:

BROOKS . W . W . O
HATTON . R . T .
KIRK . J . H .

If you would like more information about this project, or about Middlewich Heritage Trust, please email


Work has started at the site of the fort at Harbutt's Field. The outline of the fort can be seen in the geophysical image (right - click on image to enlarge).

The work will create a better footpath (see right, below) that marks out the Roman Fort in the landscape so that people can see the scale of the site. The gates at Kings Street will be replaced to create a better entrance for people to access the field and the interpretation boards will be replaced with updated panels.

Each board will have a QR code so that people with smart phones can watch the roman fort film and listen to the narrative whilst walking the streets!

The project is being delivered by a partnership between Middlewich Town Council, Middlewich Heritage Trust, Cheshire East Council and Groundwork as part of the Saltscape Project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A team of metal detectorists, led by Colin Sharratt, is checking the spoil for finds that may be unearthed.

New leaflets and new webpages will be produced over the next few months  Thanks are due to everyone who was involved in the Roman Consultation last September for your views which have been incorporated in this scheme.

If you would like more information about this project, or about Middlewich Heritage Trust, please email

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

MURGATROYD'S BRINE PUMPS - The last of their kind

Trial of a Submersible Camera in the Brine Shaft 

The Trust will be carrying out a photographic survey of the Murgatroyd Brine Shaft using a submersible camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). A trial was carried out on 26th Oct to assess the clarity of the brine, and the quality of pictures which might be obtained.

For the trial, a camera and light were mounted on a hand-held pole lowered into the shaft. The pole was in sections, allowing the camera to be lowered to an approximate depth of 12m from the pump room floor.

There was a surprising quantity of suspended material and all objects in the shaft were covered with an accumulation of silt. Because of the long pole, it was not possible to accurately control the camera position, which accounts for the odd angle of some of the photos. Had the camera been mounted on an ROV, its position could have been more accurately controlled.

However, visibility was adequate to locate and observe items in the shaft. Any silt disturbed cleared quickly, allowing closeup views to be obtained. 

The trial lasted approximately one hour, during which several interesting objects were located and examined. A video record was made of the trial, from which a number of stills were taken - one of which is shown here..

The quality and clarity of the original video is better than the quality of the stills, and it is considered that a survey using an ROV would give sufficient information to assess the condition of the shaft and rising mains.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

MURGATROYD'S BRINE PUMPS - The last of their kind

A sonar survey was carried out in March 2017.

This showed, amongst other things, that the lower, narrower shaft is not centrally placed but is to one side of the upper, wider shaft.

The upper shaft appears to be in good condition but the lower shaft has had a fall of material from the north-east side which has filled the lower portion of the shaft and is probably the reason why some of the pump risers appear to have fallen down the shaft.

The Trust is now in the process of organising a camera survey of the shaft to determine the work that will be needed in phase 2 of the restoration, if any, to stablise the shaft.

A more comprehensive report is available here

For the history and details of the shaft please see here.