Now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Lion Salt Works was the UK's last surviving open pan salt works and one of only three left in the world.
Salt production had been important to Cheshire since Roman times. By the 19th century the region produced 86 per cent of the nation's salt.
Lion Salt Works was established in 1894 by the Thompson family and remained in their ownership through five generations. The works produced salt by evaporating wild brine over an open fire in large lead pans, and the different salts they produced would be employed in the fishing, dairy and cosmetic industries. Workers would often spend most of the week working, eating and sleeping at the works and were often joined by their families. .
Lion Salt Works was closed in 1986. Today, despite subsidence problems the site retains five of its pans, four of which are in pan houses, while the fifth, which has collapsed, is an outdoor structure. The site also features a few dilapidated timber-framed buildings and a blacksmith's shop. Visits to the site have doubled since it was featured on Restoration.
The prosperity of the village of Marston in Cheshire was seeded around 250 million years ago when Britain was a shallow inland sea near the equator. It is then that the rock salt for which the area would become famous began to form. Salt has been produced in Cheshire since the time of the Roman occupation, but it was the discovery of Marston's unique geology in 1670 that would lead to the wider exploitation of the resource.
Described in a record of 1850 as merely a 'scattered village and township', by 1892, due to greater demand for salt, Marston had become 'an important township and village.'