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McConville Family Website

 of Winsford

The Walkers
Gallery 8

St Chad’s Church Winsford

Salt in Winsford

Winsford came late to the salt industry in Cheshire. Brine streams were discovered on the Wharton side of the River Weaver in 1778. During the 19th century, many salt works sprang up along the banks of the Weaver, which was used to transport the salt to Liverpool for export. The underground mining of salt produced large caverns resulting in subsidence, causing many of Winsford’s buildings to be built using timber frame construction. Another result of land subsidence was the formation of Winsford Flashes, next to the River Weaver. Flash is a north-west dialect word for lake. Today, the UK’s largest rock salt mine is at


By the 11th Century the use of -wich in place names was being used to indicate areas associated with salt production, hence the four ‘wich’ towns of Cheshire: Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich, Leftwich.

The ‘wich’ towns of Cheshire

The ancient township of Over, now part of modern Winsford, is from where our Walker family ancestors come. Charles Walker, born about 1750, had a son named Richard who was born in 1772. Richard married Mary Burgess on 24th December 1799 in St Mary’s church, Whitegate, and their son Charles was born in 1806 in Whitegate. Whitegate is an ancient parish about 3 miles north of present day Over. On 27th September 1830 he married Jane Wrench in St Chad’s church, Over. The 1951 census shows us that he was a pansmith, as was his second son John, aged 16. His eldest son Charles, aged 19, is listed as a salt boiler. Winsford was, and still is, a very important centre for the production of salt and a pansmith was one who made and maintained the huge iron pans, some of them over 30 feet wide, into which brine was pumped and then evaporated to produce salt. A salt boiler was one who oversaw the heating of the brine in the pans, which was done by burning low grade coal, giving off large volumes of black smoke. Another son Thomas, aged 11, has his occupation recorded as bone cutter, which was associated with button making and the manufacture of bone handles for knives. Their sixth son, Samuel, was born in 1843 in Over and in 1864, in Congleton, he married Jane Walton who was born in Sandbach. The 1871 census shows us that by that time they had two children, Charles born in 1864 and Sarah born in 1869. There had been another child, Frances born in 1868, but she had died soon after birth. Sarah was my maternal grandmother and in 1898, at St Mary’s church, Cheadle, Cheshire, she married Peter Charles Hollingworth who was born in Altrincham in 1868.