WALNEY ISLAND SALT WORKS
Walney Salt Works was a 'discovery of chance' as it was during the late 1880's that test sites were actually boring for coal. Although a number of sites were located on Walney for salt extraction those south of Biggar became the preferred option/s. After the salt discovery during 1887 many problems and delays were encountered, causing extraction to cease on a number of occasions.
It wasn't until a group of local business men signed a thirty year lease during the mid 1890's on the land that production began in earnest with the construction of a works that included an evaporating plant, with six chimneys and 24 pans. Production actually began wholeheartedly in 1897 when brine was pumped to the surface and in to land reservoirs and filter beds situated at Hillock Whins.
With full production underway, the 'Barrow Salt Company' commissioned plans for a small estate near the site for forty homes and a store, but unfortunately no more than a single row of these buildings ever became a reality. One of the greatest advantages of utilising Walney's South Pier (A wooden jetty constructed in the 1870's for the exporting of the Walney Gravel Workings) as a loading point was that of not having to pay any 'dues' to the port authority of Barrow.
At their peak Walney Salt Works were capable of producing 50,000 tons per annum under it's 'new' management. One such gentlemen working on the site was Mr. Albert Yarwood, who was employed by the company as a ‘Saltworks Manager’. It is believed that he was appointed to this position due to skills that he had acquired through his previous employment within the Cheshire salt fields.
At the end of 1902 low prices meant that the business could not operate at a profit, so the complete works were put up for auction, but with no purchaser coming forward the sale was unsuccessful. During 1903 'certain' other ventures were attempted, but after only another six years in 1909, the site was closed down for the last time.
(The remains of the 'wooden' pier as it is today - 2003, with Piel Castle in the background)
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