A historic brick hut on the banks of the River Weaver Navigation in Cheshire has been restored, thanks to the Canal & River Trust charity and Saltscape Landscape Partnership.
Originally built as a small storeroom and shelter for Weaver bridge-keepers at the turn of the last century, the hut was once part of the impressive Newbridge Salt Works development, just north of Winsford.
All trace of the Salt Works disappeared long ago and the area is now a leafy caravan park but the hut remains as an important landmark and reminder of Cheshire’s thriving industrial past.
The River Weaver too has undergone changes. The coastal cargo vessels, once a common sight, have been replaced by narrowboats and leisure craft, and the navigation is now managed by the Canal & River Trust, which cares for more than 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways.
Sadly in recent years, the building had suffered the ravages of time and vandalism. The corrugated iron roof was leaking and brickwork daubed in graffiti.
Kate Lynch, Canal & River Trust heritage adviser, explained: “The Newbridge Hut, next to two strategic bridges over the River Weaver, is one of the few surviving landmarks of the salt industry which played such a key role in the development of mid Cheshire over a hundred years ago. We are keen to preserve it for the future. Heritage skills training on how to apply lime mortar and preserve old buildings has been part of the project, which has involved Trust staff and volunteers working together to make a difference. We are always looking for more volunteers to help keep our national waterways looking their best and would love to hear from anyone with enthusiasm for the outdoors and a few hours to spare.”
Saul Burton, Project Officer for Saltscape said, “The restoration of this unassuming little building will bring back memories for lots of Winsford people who once worked in this important site at Meadowbank.” You can hear the fascinating stories of some of these people first hand on www.weaverparkway.org.uk/listen as part of a Saltscape oral histories project. They really bring the area to life!
For more information about how to volunteer or donate to the Canal & River Trust, check out www.canalrivertrust.org.uk or call the customer services team on 0303 040 4040.