Middlewich to Anderton

This morning we walked to the local Morrisons before tacking Middlewich Big Lock, big because it’s the first of the wide locks, but there are no more for quite a while. We shared it with a little narrowboat which the steerer assured me had a concrete hull and that it steered like a tub!

As you probably know, Cheshire has, since Roman times, been involved in the manufacture of salt and the evidence is all around. There’s a good guide to the canal by the Trent & Mersey Canal Society here.

4 Anderton Chester April 1988
Sunken boats © Photo Ted Collins 1988

We soon encountered some flashes, which are shallow areas formed by subsidence from salt extraction, extending the width of the canal. At the end of the canal carrying era numerous unwanted boats were sunk in these flashes as shown in this 1988 photo. (Sinking a wooden boat is actually quite a good way to preserve it as the timber doesn’t dry out.) There is no sign of them now so they’ve either rotted away or, hopefully, been raised and restored.

DSCN1314At Northwich we found ourselves passing through the Tata Chemical works reminding us of the reason that canals were built.

Tata is one of Europe’s leading producers of sodium carbonate, salt and sodium bicarbonate.

IMG_20150714_140501096We stopped off at Marston to visit The Lion Salt Works, last time we passed in 1988 it had been closed down for a short while. It’s demise was in 1986 when the West African markets, the major purchaser of natural salt, were lost because of the Nigerian Civil War.
Last month it re-opened as a museum and we were pleased to see that it has been sympathetically restored and many interactive displays are in place using the original equipment.

After a break for tea & ice cream we travelled the short distance to Anderton where we bagged a mooring next to the historic Anderton Boat Lift, but more of that tomorrow when we have had a look around.


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