Salt Making after the Salt Tax

The industrial revolution created not only an increased demand for salt for its traditional Food-related uses but also a rapidly increased demand from a salt based chemical industry. The textile industry had been dependent for its alkali on imported plant ash and the Leblanc process promised a much cheaper alternative. In addition to salt the Leblanc process required sulphur, coal and limestone and alkali works were already established on Tyneside, at Glasgow. If anything the repeal of the salt tax stimulated a massive growth of alkali making on Merseyside near to the supply of salt. The first Merseyside works at Vauxhall, Liverpool was soon forced, because of the noxious emissions, to re-establish at the more rural St Helens, Widnes and Weston near Runcorn. Other alkali works were soon to be established near the Lancashire textile towns and at Mostyn in Flint. Elsewhere Tennant’s St Rollox Works at Glasgow already the centre of bleach making was soon to become the largest chemical works of its day. The already established alkali works on Tyneside were greatly extended.

The salt required for this growth of the alkali trade came from the Cheshire salt towns via the Weaver Navigation. In addition there was a growing export trade stimulated by the growth of Empire. The major growth of salt making was at Winsford where the salt works stretched for two miles along both sides of the river. Other large works were also established along the Trent and Mersey canal between Wincham and Anderton.

Brine springs were discovered at Stoke Prior near Droitwich during the construction of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in 1813 and here a major expansion of the Worcester Salt industry took place following the repeal of the salt tax. A. Leblanc alkali works was established here in 1830 but this only operated for about 20 years.

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