Manufacturing: Chemical

The chemical industry was closely associated with the Lancashire and east Cheshire textile industry from the late-18th to the mid-20th centuries, although other industries also influenced its development, such as salt production in Cheshire and gunpowder in Cumbria. In the first half of 2006, a multi-disciplinary team of archaeological and architectural investigators, with illustrators and photographers from English Heritage’s Research Department undertook survey and investigation of the disused Gatebeck Low Gunpowder Works and associated workers’ settlements of Endmoor and Gatebeck (Archer et al 2009). Together with a rapid survey of the adjoining Gatebeck High Works (in reality part of the same site), which took place immediately afterwards. The survey was the last in a Departmental project investigating the seven gunpowder works that operated in the historic counties of Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (modern-day Cumbria) between 1768 and 1936. The study resulted a detailed understanding of the history, form, and power-supply arrangements of the surviving industrial structures (four pairs of incorporating mills, a glazing house, two corning houses, a stove house plus ancillary buildings and associated features). It provided an in-depth appreciation of how the factory and settlements developed over time, and how these changes relate to the gunpowder industry regionally and nationally.

The restoration of the salt process buildings at the Lion Salt Works in Cheshire provided an opportunity to not only record the panhouses, stores, and machinery in detail, but also to undertake excavation on the site (Hewitson 2015). In 2016 to 2017, as part of the Saltscape project community excavations were undertaken at the Ollershaw Lane salt works site opposite the Lion Salt Works on the northern side of the Trent and Mersey canal.

Extensive remains of an early-19th century tannery were excavated by CfAA at Salford University on a waterlogged site at Kitchen Street, Rochdale (GM) (CfAA 2012). This took the form of a series of timber tanks for processing the leather. Elsewhere in Greater Manchester during 2010-12 OAN excavated the remains of Clayton’s chemical industry, east Manchester, ahead of redevelopment for Manchester City’s football training ground. Despite widespread contamination significant, though fragmentary, elements of the 19th and 20th century chemical manufacturing processes and storage for aniline and naptha were recovered (Miller 2013).

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