Saturday 10 March 2012


If you own the copyright on this photograph, please let us know
A happy group of workers at Murgatroyds Salt Works in Brooks Lane.
They are: Jack Clarke, Tom Gallimore, Bob Peach and Bill Challinor and they're all taking a well-earned rest from their labours and sitting on whatever is available to sit on, which includes blocks of salt.

This photograph has all the hallmarks of being taken by a professional photographer and could well have been taken during the last shift at the works before it closed.

As Middlewich Town Council's Heritage Officer Kerry Fletcher reminded us in a recent contribution:

The last salt lump at Murgatroyd's was produced in December 1966. The Manchester Evening News came to take photographs of the last shift. The open pans were in operation for 76 years almost to the day, as the first salt lump was produced as the New Year of 1890 was seen in.

So this might well be a photo of the last 'baggin' time' at Murgatroyd's.

Note the footwear. Clogs were the traditional footwear of salt workers, as they were able to stand the harsh corrosive conditions in the open pan works much better than traditional boots.
By this time a form of combination clog/boot seems to have been the style, but the cloth bindings secured with string which kept the abrasive salt out of the worker's trouser-legs can still be seen.

                    MURGATROYD'S SALT STORE ROOM

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Geraldine Williams 'Baggin' - now there's an expression I haven't heard for a long time. It seemed to disappear along with 'snap' and 'bait' presumable the Northumbrian pronunciation of 'bite') when the boring 'packed lunch' took over.

Dave Roberts At ERF we favoured the term 'brew time' and lunch time was ALWAYS 'dinner time'. As it was for the rest of Middlewich, of course. We got too hungry for dinner at eight...

Geraldine Williams But what would you have called food brought from home? Bet you had a staff canteen!

Dave Roberts We did have a staff canteen, but we of the lower orders weren't allowed into it. We used the adjacent works canteen, which was carefully screened from the staff canteen in case one of the poor dears should catch a glimpse of someone in overalls and have a fit of the vapours. Food brought from home was 'snap' or , simply, 'butties'. The works rules allowed for anyone using the word 'sandwiches' to be thrown out of the place immediately, and there was no appeals procedure in place. I once had a ploughman's lunch, but he made me give it back...

Geraldine Williams The old ones are the best!

1 comment:

  1. GERALDINE WILLIAMS11 February 2017 at 11:06

    I note you mention 'butties' (sandwiches) Dave which presumably has a 'butter' connection but do you know the derivative of the canal 'butty' boat?


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