Middlewich Heritage at the moment is like a swan on the Trent and Mersey, looking graceful and laid back on the surface but pedalling hard underneath!
We are truly at the stage of busting point with a heritage archive now holding over 5,000 documents, images and items relating to Middlewich history and the Salt and Chemical Industries. In the last year alone Heritage has been granted two Heritage Lottery Fund awards for Middlewich and the Great War and The Middlewich Settlement Exhibition.
The Great War project is now in full swing! Estimation of participants so far, excluding families and individuals coming in with family information and memorabilia, is around 960 + people, already. Middlewich High School is leading the way, last week their Year 9 pupils designed WWI lessons for the Year 5 Primary pupils, which was fantastically successful. Each primary school are working on topics of their own choice, highlights on the horizon are class sessions with The Tommy Teaches, visiting the Fly-boat Saturn and working on drama pieces with Jason King and Middlewich High School.
There are around 50 schools, organisations, businesses, clubs, groups and individuals working on their projects and displays ready for the big Great War Weekend on the 4th and 5th October. News on all the projects will be filtered through over the next few months. The age group of the project spans 6 years old to 14 years old for schools and on average around 40-50 year olds in other sectors. Oldest participant is 94 years old!
The Middlewich Settlement Exhibition will be a complete re-design and re-vamp of the small museum space contained within Middlewich Library. The Roman exhibition established through a previous Heritage Lottery Funded project Roman Middlewich has been up for nearly 14 years. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund we will be re-interpreting the space, adding an extra display case which we will be able to change every year, focusing more on the development of settlements here at Middlewich. Through this project we will also be creating a ‘virtual museum’ website, so access to our Middlewich collections will be so much easier! Some background work has been done on this project already but we will start in ernest in October, ready to open in April 2015.
We are in the process of securing a English Heritage Grant for emergency repairs to the Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump which will hopefully start next year and a further Heritage Lottery Fund application is going in at the end of May for a full community restoration of the pumps and a purpose built education centre.
Middlewich is also part of ‘Saltscape’ which is a project covering Middlewich to Frodsham following the Weaver Valley and looking at our Salt Landscape and Heritage. This project is under funding consideration at the moment by Heritage Lottery fund and a decision in due soon.
‘Saltscape’ is the unique landscape modified by industry, stretching from Frodsham to Middlewich and Winsford and taking in the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. This includes the built environment and unique flora and fauna more associated to coastal and limestone habitats.
The Weaver Valley includes many established heritage features, with ‘jewels in the crown’ such as the Anderton Boat Lift and Lion Salt Works, ancient woodland and Middlewich Brine Pump. The Saltscape vision is to demonstrate a holistic view of the countryside that links these attractions together and demonstrate how all the natural and historic features fit together into the wider landscape.
The Saltscape Partnership seeks to reconnect people with the remarkable environment on their doorstep opening up access to a range of experiences and ensuring long-term sustainability through a vibrant network of community groups.
Steering group members consist of:
?Cheshire West and Chester Council
?The Mersey Forest
?Cheshire Wildlife Trust
?Canal and River Trust
?Middlewich Town Council
?The Weaverham Trust
?The Weaver Valley Partnership
All of these projects are community driven and cannot happen without the support of our volunteers, so a big thanks you goes out to them, it will be great couple of years to be involved with Middlewich Heritage especially if the Saltscape and Murgatroyd’s bids are successful. We will cross our fingers.
Support from our community and our businesses are vital to our work here, it isn’t just about saving Middlewich heritage but being able to get public access to it. To do this we do need sponsors as well as volunteers, and I’m so grateful to Tata Chemicals who have put forward sponsorship money to go towards the Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump Project. We should be so proud that after 2,000 years Middlewich is still producing salt via British Salt (now owned by Tata Chemicals) and transporting it throughout the world. Murgatroyd’s is not just a Brine Pump it is the last survivor of our open pan salt works and quite possibly the last brine pump over a hand dug shaft with original gantry in the UK.
Working with Tata Chemicals is very fitting and together we hope to work towards creating a visitor and educational space that once and for all tells people about who we are and what this town has accomplished.
For further information contact: Kerry Fletcher, Heritage Development Officer on 01606 833434.
I will forward on progress as it happens!