AEMT - Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

27 July 2017
The Legacy of George Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump.
Industrial Heritage and Archaeology are fast becoming popular topics in many communities up and down the country. They are the legacies of our past, representations of the industries that once supported our families and created our towns and cities.

In an age of austerity it is sites like Murgatroyd’s, all over the country that are paying the price. Slowly but surely communities are taking back control of their own industrial heritage, saving them for future generations to understand the impact that these machines and processes played in everyday lives. It is also important that connections with the modern industrial world are understood to measure just how far we have advanced in technology and explore what is to come.

George Murgatroyd had a dream of setting up his own Salt and Chemical business; 128 years later the brine shaft he had dug is nationally important…, why? Because the rock salt he found started an industrial chain reaction of inventions, chemical advancement and technological achievement known throughout the world.

In 1977 it was known that the pumps and brine shaft were the only surviving example of a technology which was once in widespread use by the inland salt industry throughout the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century. This technology was not particular to Cheshire and similar pumps were once used at Salt works in Staffordshire and Worcestershire. The industrial archaeological value of the site is enhanced by the fact that the brine pumps remain installed in the original ‘hand dug’ brine shaft above which stands the original timber maintenance gantry. An integral part of the deep well pumps is below ground level in the shaft. Any attempt to separate the various parts of the installation would destroy its overall integrity. While a conserved salt works is linked to a particular technology and age, the brine pumps celebrate the brine which has made the salt making and chemical industry possible.

Middlewich Heritage Trust was formed in 2015, with support from Historic England, the Trust will take over an asset transfer of the ‘Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump’ site from Cheshire East Council which is:

  • A Scheduled Monument
  • On the Historic England Building at Risk Register.
  • Has a full associated Archive
  • It is not at presently accessible by the public, even though the collection as a whole is a rich resource for the town.

The Trust has supported and worked alongside Middlewich Town Council, Cheshire East Council and Historic England on emergency repairs to the Brine Pump site, which was grant funded. The £117,000 project was completed in March 2016.

The Trust holds an extensive collection of drawings, photographs, film, documents, artefacts and oral archives relating to the Murgatroyd Company, thanks largely to George Twigg’s research. Due to this and the help of George and his former work colleagues we now have a full picture of the history of the site, development details and also how Murgatroyd’s fitted into the greater ‘salt and chemical’ trade of the UK.

What exactly do we need help with?

  • Finish refurbishment of timber gantry
  • Installation of new windows and doors
  • Replacement of derelict brine tank – (During the stabilisation works, the brine storage tank on the pump-house roof was found to be beyond repair, and was removed. This tank formed part of the scheduling and, as such, Historic England will expect it to be reinstated).
  • Stabilisation of the brine shaft
  • Restoration of one of the pumps to operational condition
  • Restoration of Motor Control Panel to exhibition standard
  • Reinstatement of electricity supply
  • Restoration of Transfer pumps to exhibition standard
  • Provision of display cabinets / housing for Transfer pumps
  • Site Interpretation
  • Education package (to include all educational establishments)

For more information on our project or how to get involved please contact or call 01606 833434

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