Cheshire salt towns’ resources are ‘unique’ says top UK scientist

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THE UK’s top salt scientist has visited Winsford Salt Mine to announce it as a ‘unique resource’ for scientists.

And this is alongside the Salt Library at Weaver Hall Museum and the Lion Salt Works Museum in Northwich.

Professor Chris Jackson, the new chair of sustainable geoscience at Manchester University and the UK’s top salt scientist, said the salt mine in Winsford, owned by Compass Minerals, is a unique resource for UK scientists interested in the study of salt.

While on a tour of the mine, Professor Jackson, said: “Salt is a fascinating substance on so many different levels.

“On a day-to-day basis, salt (in moderation) is essential for a healthy life as it helps your brain and nerves send electrical impulses.

“But my passion is in how the distribution of salt deposits records ancient Earth environments, and how these rocks can deform.

“So being able to actually go beneath ground, to this working mine that is not normally open to visitors, and to look at just a small part of the huge deposits of salt beneath the Cheshire Plain, is both fascinating and intensely interesting from a scientific point of view.

“By a long way, Compass Minerals’ Winsford mine is the biggest in the UK, which makes it a unique scientific resource.

“I very much hope that in the future, undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University of Manchester might be able to undertake their research here with the kind support of Compass Minerals.

“These students could also make use of the records in the Salt Library at Weaver Hall Museum, as well as the resources of the award-winning Lion Salt Works Museum in Northwich.”

Kate Harland, museums and heritage manager at the Lion Salt Works Museum, who was also on the tour, said: “The salt below the Cheshire Plains is vast, covering the areas beneath the three traditional Cheshire salt towns of Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich.

“Many people will know that ‘wich’ denotes the presence of salt in the towns’ name but many people are possibly not aware that salt has been a crucial part of the history and economy of Cheshire for thousands of years, not just the last few centuries.

“After years of working at the Lion Salt Works Museum in Northwich, one of the last open-pan, salt-making sites in the world, I am delighted to have seen the salt beneath ground.

“It is extraordinary that the mine is beneath such a lot of Northwich and that the red sand that makes up our local Cheshire sandstone is also in the salt beds, varying from light pink to red in colour.

“It has given me lots of fresh inspiration to take back to the Lion Salt Works Museum.”

Chris Heywood, commercial director, Compass Minerals, said: “The Winsford Salt Mine is the largest in the UK and mines rock salt.

“During the winter, it is Cheshire rock salt that is used for gritting the UK’s icy roads and pavements to help keep people safe and industry moving.”