The salt works at Shirleywich, near Weston

The salt works at Shirleywich, near Weston

The salt works at Shirleywich, near Weston.
Sepia drawing by TP Wood, 1838

© William Salt Library, Stafford

Staffordshire’s salt industry was never on the same scale as Cheshire or Worcestershire and was always limited to evaporating brine. Nonetheless it was an important industry in the county which continued production until the 1960s.

The parish of Weston was one of the two centres for this industry and the earliest. Salt making at Shirleywich was well established as early as 1686 when Dr Robert Plot wrote of Shirleywich salt that it was “as good a white salt for all uses perhaps as anywhere in England”.

The export of Shirleywich salt from the county was considerably helped by the building of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1766-1777, almost adjacent to the works. Production expanded in Weston during the early 19th century but by the 1890s it was in decline. This was as a result of the discovery of brine pits in Stafford and the establishment of the industry there.

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