Middlewich Civic Hall, 19th & 20th October

Aims of the exhibition

  • To develop a salt exhibition this stretches the boundaries of Middlewich into associated trades in the Town and the importance of the Salt Routes.
  • To present Middlewich as an Industrial Heritage site, looking at how the past and present connect with regards to the community, jobs, tourism.
  • To help people understand how important Cheshire salt was through the ages and how we make salt today.
  • To connect our town to other salt towns, creating a tourist route between us.
  • To introduce the Ecosal-Atlantis concept and get people thinking about a wider tourism network.
  • To get or to network other groups into the salt route idea and work together creating tourism/event links.

The preview day only had one school, St Mary’s, which was disappointing but the morning went well and the children learned a lot from their visit. The class had been on a town tour, so had already started on the canal and salt projects, I found that the children had retained a lot of information. The opportunity at the exhibition was to handle items and look at pictures we had previously talked about.

Winsford Town Council, members from Weaver Hall and Nantwich Museum came on the Friday to see the exhibition and to take part in some way; this is also part of our networking to understand more about where we all are in terms of Heritage development. Plus how we can fit together next year to create a foundation of events and activities that support one-another

Colin Edmondson who is the Historian for the River Weaver brought his salt route information and networked with others about moving forward with links between each township and possible interpretation that could be useful for both Ecosal and saltscape projects.

Andrew Fielding came to represent Ecosal-Atlantis project and to talk to the community about the project and what it could mean for Middlewich.

Saturday we had Jonathan Lloyd visiting us from Shropshire who is a board member for the European route of Industrial Heritage. He was interested in our town and stayed for a while looking at the information and talking about connections between Ecosal and his project. We will meet up at a later date to exchange some ideas and discuss more in depth about what we want to achieve in the town.

British Salt had done some new information panels to go with my photographs of the site and supplied us with brine for the open pan demonstration. They are keen to discuss how they can be of future use to us via the salt route projects and wish to play a more formal part of any discussion concerning links with the community. We are also discussing the possibility of British Salt having an open day once more, perhaps as part of an event next year.

The numbers of people in general were low on the Friday but had an interest in the exhibition, some staying two to three hours. The numbers on Saturday which was our open day was much better a steady flow of people continued through the day and the church tours were busy also.

The open pan demonstration had a steady stream of people through both days.

On the whole the event generated networking opportunities and helped understanding between the key partners of Middlewich, Winsford, Weaver Hall and Nantwich Museum. We have a base to work from and discussions about how we now take the partnership forward. I had some great contacts come forward that will prove to be useful, picked up a couple of bookings for tours and it would be great to learn more about the European route of Industrial Heritage for our Brine Pump, Jonathan would be a keen supporter for us in our funding bid for the site.

I also had a couple of people with donations to the archive and a couple more who upon seeing the display approached me with information.

 Observations of the two days:

  • People really enjoyed talking together about the industries they worked in and it also gave people a really good idea of how ideal standard and British Salt operate. Brilliant that people who work there also came along so we had some really good conversations about how the companies have changed over time
  • Lots of people were taken aback by the different salts available and uses for it.
  • We were asked frequently about whether tours were available of British Salt and ideal standard (ours Sanitary-ware) many remember the factories having annual open days where families could tour around and see what they were producing. There also used to be activities and events at these places but we’re not expecting that to happen again but tours may well be possible as a connection between businesses and the community. Certainly the employees were interested in the idea of people coming around to see what they do.
  • I didn’t have enough boards to put out all the pictures which are a shame but again people are interested in seeing images and groups and seeing if they can help put names to faces. We had help with that over the two days.
  • We also had some people who came because of their family tree which I thought was great trying to find out where their family lived and what jobs they would have done.
  • A few questions also came about agriculture in Middlewich which is a subject we haven’t really got started on yet plus the Nestle factory which we have some images of but not a lot of info as yet.
  • The mapping is always a winner with people as they look at quite a different view of Middlewich, interest in how the town has changed as always shone through these exhibitions but more so now because of Middlewich Diary through Dave Roberts.

Plenty of information to look at for the future and many comments about how good the exhibition was, how they enjoyed it. It is really a different type of person than at events because you are getting people really interested in the town, who read everything, contribute in some way and take in the information you put in front of them and it’s nice to see some familiar faces who have always supported heritage projects. These are really the basis of the type of people likely to come to the Town Wharf, no gimmicks or big bands required, perhaps the basis for a ‘friends of town wharf’ membership?

Volunteers brilliant again! A team of people helped me all through from Thursday to Saturday night, lifting, talking to visitors, setting up, showing films, introducing people to me, great.

For further images, information and write up go to http://ecosal-atlantis.ua.pt/ click on events.

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