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Preesall Salt Mines
Preesall, Lancashire, UK
associated engineer
date  1889, 1902 (salt works)
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Mining/Quarrying  |  reference  SD347463
ICE reference number  HEW 1351
At Preesall, on the east back of the River Wyre, a large area of land was given over to the mining of brine deposits. In 1889, the brine was sent in pipes across the river to the salt works at Burn Naze on the west bank.
The brine mining was carried out by the Fleetwood Salt Co. Ltd, who leased 445 hectares at Preesall, obtained permission for the pipes across the river and leased a further 9 hectares of Burn Naze salt marsh for the works (see separate entry) .
Before brine pumping came along, salt production by the evaporation of seawater had been a feature of the area around the mouth of the Wyre. Production of salt using this method was carried out in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, local methods moved on to brine pumping, rock salt mining and then to the solution mining of modern times.
Early brine mining commenced with a 170m deep borehole sunk at Fleetwood by the Royal Engineers in 1860. At Preesall, the Rev. Daniels and Daniel Elletson sank a 2.5m diameter half-brick lined shaft in 1875. Other shafts followed in the 1870s.
Fleetwood Salt Company's 1885 borehole was 186m deep and dug under the direction of E. Fiddler and A. Anderson. They pumped the brine to the surface using a 'Bull' engine. In 1889, the company gained a monopoly on the deposits and proceeded to carry out the scheme already described.
A small reservoir was constructed on a hill as part of the preparations for pumping brine to Burn Naze. The pipe across the river was 250mm in diameter, designed by Charles H. Beloe and laid by T. Riley. Pumping commenced in 1890 at a rate of 13,640 litres per hour. The rate soon fell to 3,410 litres, which was insufficient for the salt works, so a method of pumping from one shaft to another and extracting the collected volume was devised.
The first white salt was produced at Burn Naze on the 25th February 1890. The company was then sold to United Alkali Co. Ltd. In 1891, Stanley Bros. of Nuneaton built some 460m of 1.7m diameter tunnel at Preesall using a Stanley Heading Machine. That same year, more land at Burn Naze was purchased for the making of carbonate of soda and the Wyre pipeline was replaced with 183m of 100mm rubber hose (later replaced by wire armoured hose).
In 1892-3, boreholes were sunk at the ends of the tunnels and lined with perforated steel pipes. Two 122m wells were dug by Charles Chapman & Sons, and a pumping installation by Hathorn Davey & Co. capable of raising 204,500 litres per hour was installed. In 1897, North Field pumping station was built to use the forcing system.
Around 1902, Preesall Salt Works was built to the north of the salt marshes on the east bank of the river. A branch line to the Garstang & Knott End Railway was laid in 1912. An ammonia soda works started production in 1924, later becoming part of the ICI Hillhouse Works.
The Preesall Salt Works closed in 1924 and nothing remains of them. The ICI Hillhouse Works are now substantially closed too.
River pipework design: Charles H Beloe (1889)
Contractor: T.Riley (1889)
Research: PHEW
reference sources   ICE / INCH

Preesall Salt Mines