Tuesday 14 February 2012


We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know.
This photograph, which was originally titled 'loading block salt', actually shows two types of salt - block salt and common salt - being loaded at Seddon's loading bay in Brooks Lane, a facility which we were able to see the (much altered) last remains of here  in 1974. 
Practically nothing is left in the present day.
The picture has all the hallmarks of a specially posed publicity picture.
Everything is simple, clean, neat and tidy and quite a lot of airbrushing has been going on, particularly in the background where, on the other side of the railway, the countryside has been doctored to look more like the rolling downs of Sussex than Cheshire meadowland.
For example, surely there would have been far more barrows full of block salt waiting to be loaded into that box wagon, and far more people doing the loading?
Similarly, there would have been an army of workers loading the common salt into open wagons from those little tramway trucks.
The whole loading area would have been cluttered and slightly chaotic, as anyone who has ever worked in such an environment could tell you.
Notice that the block salt appears to be being loaded into an ordinary box wagon with a curved roof rather than the specialised 'cottage tops' which the Middlewich Salt Company used, as seen here. Seddon's did use 'cottage tops' too, as shown below:
Seddon's Salt Wagon. Notice the distinctive shaded lettering in Seddon's house style, as also seen on the brine tanks at the Brooks Lane, Pepper Street and Wych House Lane works. The wagons in the photo above would also have been painted in these Seddon's 'red lead' colours with the characteristic black and white lettering. Simpson's, who shared part of the site with Seddon's, and packed salt there (they also had premises in Nottingham and described themselves as 'salt-refiners') also had trucks of this kind , but painted a brighter shade of red.

The tramway is also of interest; at various times there were tramways all over this site (see page 38 of Wych & Water (Middlewich Vision 2009) and one extended from the main entrance of the works and across Brooks Lane to a loading bay on a short spur off the Trent & Mersey Canal.
That loading bay is now Middlewich Dry Dock.
Seddon's on Brooks Lane, along with the adjacent Murgatroyd's, had the luxury of its own loading facilities connecting directly with the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich branch of the LNWR (later LMS) via the salt siding, but the Seddon's works in Pepper Street, although it lay on the Trent & Mersey Canal, had no direct rail facilities.
Salt from there was taken by horse and cart to Middlewich Station and loaded into the same vans and open wagons.
We have dated this photograph as '1920s' because of its style and presentation but, as with every Middlewich Diary entry, we are open to corrections and additional information and look forward to hearing from you if you can tell us more about this picture.

1 comment:

  1. The photograph of salt being loaded onto the wagons is part of a publicity booklet done by seddons in either late 20's or early 30's. Unfortunately there is no date on the booklet itself, but shows various stages of salt production and is heavily altered in some cases for artistic merit!


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