HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Cheshire Life today CLICK HERE

Salt mines of Cheshire

17:40 14 April 2010

Salt mines of Cheshire

Salt mines of Cheshire

Salt from Cheshire kept the country moving when the icy winter turned UK roads into potential deathtraps. We visit the country's largest rock salt mine in Winsford to find out what goes on

Gordon Dunn and his team are working flat out about 200 metres underground in the pitch black. Its a constant 14 degrees, more than a little dusty and youre unlikely to bump into any colleagues for any longer than to pip your van horn. It might not be everyones idea of heaven but they love it.
The staff at Winsford Rock Salt Mine dont normally work 24/7. It is part of a plan to replenish supplies after the snow earlier this year brought many parts of the country to a standstill.
Gordon, a 47-year-old former coal mine worker who became manager just over two years ago, said: We had to get the police in to control the amount of trucks queuing up outside. We were getting the salt out of the mine and it was going straight out in the trucks.
Even now its going out as soon as its been mined. Thats why we are working around the clock.
Winsford Rock Salt Mine, first excavated in 1854, is Britains oldest salt mine and is responsible for much of the countrys rock salt production. Each year, it and others in Yorkshire and Northern Ireland produce one million tonnes of rock salt which is mined, crushed and then transported via conveyor belt to the surface. About a mile of tunnel is mined every year but there are 130 miles of tunnel underground.


Books from the Bodleian Library, Manchester Library and the National Archives are stored down here
In days gone by, a workforce of more than 400 workers used handpicks and shovels to encourage salt out of these vast caverns. Today, the much smaller workforce use gigantic remote-control salt cutting machines which are brought down in parts and assembled underground. Once theyve reached the end of their use they are left in a huge corner of the mine. Theyre not the only unusual items lurking in the vast caverns. In the past there have been talks about having a mushroom farm down there, but now books from the Bodleian Library, Manchester Library and the National Archives are stored down here.
The dry conditions are perfect for preserving the paper and it is an increasingly popular storage solution for over-crowded libraries.
But Gordon is sure mining will continue here for some time. As long as we can keep producing salt for the prices we do, then we will be around, he said. It will take something major that can be mined and produced much more cheaply to alter things for us.
Its a job I love. Being in coal mining previously, working in a salt mine is much better. Its clean for a start. I love working here, its all about the camaraderie. We all get on very well, but that and trust is important when youre down a mine.


Did you know?
The wich in the Cheshire wich towns like Nantwich and Northwich refers to their salt heritage.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 12:00
Northwich Town Bridge over the River Weaver

Whatever you’re looking for in a Cheshire town, you’re likely to find it in charming Northwich

Read more
Nantwich Show

From a record amount of cheeses to magnificent Shire Horses in the main ring, this year’s Nantwich and South Cheshire Show was as great a spectacle as ever. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Read more
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Blair Castle  © Paul Booth

Scotland’s Blair Castle plays host to the FEI European Championships of Eventing from 10-13 September 2015

Read more
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Steve Buckley and Border Collie, Bryn

They say a dog is a man’s best friend. But Steve Buckley and his border collie, Bryn, have been a help to many people. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Cleaver Heath Photograph by Andrew Walmsley

Katie Piercy from Cheshire Wildlife Trust, explains what makes heathlands so special and how we can help to save them from destruction

Read more
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Cheval Three Quays

Win a two night luxury stay in london overlooking the Thames

Read more
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Congleton Park and River Dane

Congleton has many charms and a dedicated community

Read more
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Spinningfields, Manchester

Dining and shopping in the heart of Manchester

Read more
Friday, August 14, 2015
The Egerton Arms, beside the historic St Mary's Church Astbury. Photo courtesy of Frederic Robinson Limited

The best walk, surely, is one which takes you to a lovely pub or restaurant. Howard Bradbury suggests several strolls which can be combined with a pleasant drink or a meal

Read more
Friday, August 14, 2015
Bridgewater Canal

With scores of places to eat, stylish shops and glorious countryside, this could be the perfect village

Read more
Friday, August 14, 2015
Altrincham Market Quarter

As well as being handy for the airport, Metrolink and the motorways, this buzzing town has plenty of things to do

Read more
Friday, August 14, 2015
Manchester Airport

Why wait for take-off when you can start your holiday at Manchester Airport?

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
nantwich

This a town with a fascinating past and an international reputation

Read more
Friday, August 7, 2015
Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital

When things go wrong, North West horse owners have a world-class facility on their doorstep. Martin Pilkington reports

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Follow Cheshire Life's board Walks in Cheshire on Pinterest.
Cheshire's trusted business finder