Tag Archive | Salt

12th December 1670. The Salt of the Earth.

Salt-making is referred to as ‘Walling’, the Anglo-Saxon for Boiling. British production comes from the mined mineral Halite and evaporation from the sea.(1)

Salt crystal.

Salt crystal.

Much comes from Cheshire and it was Today in an issue of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1670, that it recorded the discovery of salt near Northwich.

Adam Martindale in a letter to the Society said that John Jackson of Halton had reported that, ‘about lady day last, as he was searching for coals on behalf of the Lord of the Soil, William Marbury esq’, salt had been discovered in the area.(2)

Rock-salt is found underground as a sedimentary evaporate mineral and Jackson was referring to the re-discovery by employees of the Smith-Barry Family, whilst looking for coal in the grounds of the family home Marbury Hall, Cheshire.

Coal was now becoming vital for evaporation of the salt as most of the local timber had been consumed in the process, and this allowed the Liverpool merchants to gain a foothold in the conservative Cheshire business.

Thus was Northwich raised from a sleepy, dirty town ‘full of smoak’, and riddled with restrictive practices into the centre of the British salt trade.(3)

Earl Rivers had established his mine in 1669 at Leftwick, near Northwich, and obtained his coal by packhorse and occasional wagon. Much came from Lancashire and some came by boat up the River Weaver. By the 1690s there were several rock pits in area.

There is reference in Domesday.Book to the ‘Domesday witches’, which mentioned apart from Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich along with Droitwich in Worcestershire.

It is not surprising that salt was subject to taxation, which died out before the Tudor period only to be reintroduced in 1641 in The Commonwealth, withdrawn in 1660 and reinstated in 1693.

It had a duty at two shillings a bushel on foreign salt; one shilling on native salt with exemptions for fisheries. A novel form of the 1693 tax was that it was levied at point of manufacture not point of use. In 1696 the tax doubled.(4)

The Tax remained in force until abolished in 1825, which required about 600 full-time officials in collection. Commissioners were paid £500 per annum, a vast sum for what was probably a sinecure.

The rise of Liverpool Port came from salt and coal trading, and Liverpool was also to create its own salt industry on the Mersey by the evaporation process, which was cheaper than mining.

(1) The Rules of Walling, amongst other things, restricted the times of salt evaporation.

Potassium Chloride or the mineral Sylvite, and the British Halite are sources of food flavouring, fertilizers, plastics, soap, paper, explosives, bleach, detergents, dyestuffs, margarine.

(2) In 1670.‘A gentleman of good account….assures me that in our County there is lately found a great rarity, viz a Rock Salt from which issues a vigorous sharp brine’.

(3) In 2014 Northwich was cited as one of the 101 best places to live by the Sunday Times.

(4)  A Salt Commission was founded in 1702. The 1702 Salt Act.Report of the [committee for salt duties] to the Lord High Treasurer, drew attention to the defects in the Last Salt Act. (1 Anne c 15).

The Commission ceased in 1730 with discontinuation of salt duties. It was abolished in 1798. Duties re-imposition (Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers) 1731-4 P.229, 5.

Ref: Calendar of Treasury Papers. Vol 3. 1702-7.

Ref: saltassociation.co.uk.

Ref: The Riches Beneath our Feet: How Mining shaped Britain. G. Coyle 2010. Technology/engineering.

Ref: thehistoryvault.co.uk/salt/pepper.

Ref: wikipedia.org/history_of_salt/northwich/Pic of crystal.



29th June 1817 – The Salt of the Earth.

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Sel, poivre and vinaigre, in any language still tastes the same. Photo by Author.


SALT-Religion: Most famous Biblical story relates to Lot’s wife being turned into pillar of salt. ‘The Lord God of Israel gave the Kingdom…to David…by a Covenant of Salt’. Salt appears in Bible over 40 times, including the expression in the Title.

Science: Common salt, the preservative before fridges, comprises the alkali metal Sodium which when combined with the halogen gas, Chlorine, results in the Compound, Sodium Chloride (NaCl).

The number of electrons in an atom of sodium, a constituent of common salt (as with all atoms) equals the number of protons. Sodium has 11 electrons 11 protons and 12 neutrons in its neutral state: Atomic Number is thus 11 and Atomic Weight is 23.


Nostalgia: The Author remembers the name Cerebos Salt on the side of a railway bridge spanning the road near his home.

Who would have thought that the infant John Corbett (1817-1901) baptised Today on the 29th June 1817 at St Michael’s Brierley Hill, would later be the ‘Salt King’ of 19th century industrial Britain. 

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Corbett had built Chateaux Impney, Worcs., and became a local benefactor. His sign was the raven which appeared on his buildings.

It was in 1830 when Fardon, Gossage & Company built a factory on the east side of the Birmingham-Worcester Canal. Thomas Fardon had been a salt maker in Droitwich having factories on an eight acre site at Stoke Prior north east of Droitwich which had been bought from the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral.

In 1835 the Company became British Alkali, which with its 8 acres was one of three salt companies shown on the 1848 Tithe Map. The other two were the  Imperial Salt & Alkali, with 6 acres and the  Imperial Salt & Chemical, with an acre. However by 1850 the ventures hit bad times and the works abandoned.

So in 1851 Imperial Salt & Alkali Works was offered for sale at Auction Mart in London, and this is where John Corbett, the son of Joseph whose canal business had suffered from railway competition, stepped in and on 6th July 1853 concluded an agreement to buy from the Trustees, the British Alkali Company which had been liquidated the previous year.

Two down one to go, for then Corbett obtained a 21 years lease of the Imperial Salt & Chemical Company which lay on the opposite canal bank. It was by these acquisitions at Stoke Prior, that Corbett was to revolutionise English salt production.

In 1888 he sold out to the Salt Union Ltd conglomerate in Cheshire, and elsewhere, for £660,000, which company now held a virtual monopoly in England thus enabling it increase prices and so profitability.

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Stoke Prior Salt Works by Canal.

Moving to the 1930’s The Salt Union from 1937 became part of Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI Salt Ltd, Stoke Prior Salt Works, and ICI Ltd Salt Division from 1.1.1943 until 31.12.1960. However geological problems and cheap imports forced the closure of the works 15.2.1972.

Salt has also a long history in the north-east of England where the salt works in Billingham grew up near the ancient salt track which had Wearmouth to north and Whitby to the south.

And  in 1290 Robert de Brus the grandfather of Robert Bruce King of Scotland granted a salt pan to Sir John Rumundebi formerly held by Adam the Miller at a rental of a pair of white gloves and a penny paid at Easter. Production was by evaporating sea-water. An early account of salt manufacturing at Coatham near Redcar is described BELOW IN NOTES.

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Early Cerebos Logo.The name comes from Ceres Roman god of wheat and os Latin for bone.

Before the 1890’s salt came in blocks, but it was in 1891 that pharmacist George Bowie mixed phosphate and common salt to produce a free-pouring table salt which George Weddell improved on leading to the commercial brand of Cerebos.

Cerebos of Greatham, Stockton-0n-Tees was registered in November 1903, to amalgamate ‘the rights for all countries and to acquire salt works and mines’, and launched Saxa Salt in 1907. In 1968 Cerebos was acquired by Rank McDougal Hovis.

Ref: John Corbett on miac.org.uk/Corbett.htm.found under Fardon & Gossage.

Ref: wikipedia/salt

Ref:wikibooks.org/wiki/high_school_chemistry. High School chemistry/th

See POST of 24th June (alkali earth metals).


‘And as the Tyde comes in yt bringeth a small wash sea-cole which is imployed to the makinge of salte, and as the Fuell of the poore fisher Townes adjoining; the oylie sulpherousness beinge mixed with the Salte of the Sea as yt floweth, and consequently hard to take fyre, or to Keepe in longe with quenching they have a Meanes, by makinge small vaults to passe under the hearthes, into which by foresetting the wynde with a board, they force yt to enter, and soe to serve instead of a payre of bellowes, which they call in a proper worde of Art, a Blowecole’.

Next POST and final one for JUNE, looks at the sea battle of Beachy Head.


Alkali metals from the top of the Group 1 are: Lithium (Li), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Rubidium (Rb), Cesium (Cs) and Francium (Fr). They are all very reactive in that they have only one electron in the valence (outer) shell, and are only one away from the ‘Duet Rule’  (of Hydrogen), of two electrons needed in that outer shell. As a result they are keen to bond with another element by losing the electron

For example Sodium gives up its electron with chlorine(Cl), which having seven electrons and keen to complete its outer shell to eight (‘Octet Rule’) which makes it an ideal candidate to pinch the sodium one, resulting in the bonding of both elements.

Thus we get the common salt compound (NaCl) and stability.

Chlorine is a searing halogen gas and is not found in its natural state but only in compounds.