The Lion Salt Works, Northwich

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Application Type

AABC Conservation

Level of Award



North West

Local Authority Area

Cheshire West & Chester

Information about this scheme

The Lion Salt Works in Marston is a remarkable example of the life that can be breathed into empty, derelict and crumbling buildings. The delicate restoration of the Grade II listed Scheduled Ancient Monument called for expertise, precision and care. The result is the conversion of fragile 19th century buildings into a unique visitor attraction; the UK’s last remaining open-pan salt works frozen in time as a slice of Cheshire’s proud salt mining industrial heritage. Built in 1894, the Works closed in 1986 after almost a century of open-pan salt production, which had resulted in brittle and hazardous buildings, considered by many to be unsalvageable. Donald Insall Associates was appointed to carry out a feasibility study, prepare a Conservation Plan and provide architectural services for the restoration of the delicate industrial buildings and regenerating the site as a visitor attraction and salt museum. English Heritage was involved from the outset and an archaeologist worked full time on site due to the Scheduled Monument status. Ancillary structures dot the site, including the Smithy, Engine House and former Brine Tank. The redundant rail tracks for hauling the salt around the site have been retained and services carefully directed around and underneath to enable the retention of these artefacts. The salt pan for Stove House 5 has been returned to its original location to be read with the rebuilt stove house. The former line of the pan house building has been faithfully recreated on the gable of Stove House 5 using the glazing and cladding to tell the story.



Donald Insall Associates


Cheshire West and Chester Council

Main Contractor

Wates Construction

Structural Engineer


Project Manager

Turner and Townsend

Services Engineer

Bob Costello Associates

Museum Designer

Richard Fowler Associates


William Anelay

Primary Use Class

Class D1e - Museums