The history of nearby Cheshire town Northwich started on September 17, 1483, when King Richard III granted the manor and village of Northwich to Lord Stanley and his brother Sir George Stanley.

The manor remained in the Stanley family until 1784 when The Earl of Derby sold it to John Mort.

Later it became the property of John Pemberton Heywood of Liverpool who sold the manor and everything to do with it such as fairs and markets to the Northwich Local Board.

But in those far off days, Northwich consisted mainly of the High Street. Evidencing this is that the small road next to McDonald's is still called Boundary Street.

By 1956 the Northwich Parliamentary Constituency consisted of the Urban District of Northwich and the Rural District of Northwich including part of the Rural District of Tarvin. The long-standing MP was Sir John Foster QC.

In my History of Cheshire by JH Hanshall dated 1817, he writes ‘Winnington Hall is described as a large building with nothing particularly striking in its appearance; the situation, however, is delightfully picturesque close to the most romantic part of the River Weaver'.

This was not to last long as two businessmen were later to alter this description completely.

In 1873 John Brunner and Ludwig Mond formed a partnership and purchased Winnington Hall and its expansive grounds at Northwich.

Knutsford Guardian: Barnton Hill and ICI 1920sBarnton Hill and ICI 1920s (Image: Paul Hurley)

The hall was built in the late 16th or early 17th century for a member of the Warburton family in Cheshire.

In the early 1800s a sandstone extension was added. This beautiful country house later found itself not in the picturesque country but in the centre of an industrial complex.

John Brunner and Ludwig Mond wanted the estate to build their chemical works, Brunner Mond Ltd, later ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries).

Initially the plans were to demolish it but this was later rescinded and Brunner and Mond moved into it with their families.

The hall has outlived most of the chemical works that once surrounded it. But Brunner and Mond became a limited company building Winnington Works on the grounds of the hall and the first batch of soda ash was produced in 1874.

Knutsford Guardian: An example of subsidence in NorthwichAn example of subsidence in Northwich (Image: Paul Hurley)

Later called the ICI, it became one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. By 1986 it was the largest employer in Mid Cheshire. It is now part of the Indian Tata conglomerate.

Then there were the two riverside firms of Yarwoods and Pimblots, both ship builders, but despite being on a river they both provided tugs, ferries, barges and small warships for use around the globe.

One of the notable people to work at Yarwoods was Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who worked on the design of RAF Rescue launches to be built there and to work rescuing downed pilots.

In 1921 he was a full colonel and adviser to Winston Churchill. In 1922 he tried to enlist as an aircraftman in the RAF using a false name, but his past rank was discovered.

He was later allowed to join, was exposed again, and joined The Royal Tank Corps again under a false name, later being allowed into the RAF as a humble aircraftman his life was a roller coaster.

Knutsford Guardian: Future ICI works at WinningtonFuture ICI works at Winnington (Image: Paul Hurley)

He later came to Yarwoods to work on building the RAF Rescue launch Aquarius to be built there and to work rescuing downed pilots and died in 1935 because of a motorbike accident.

What Northwich is famous for is the spectacular subsidences that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

They were caused by wild brine pumping and resulted in Northwich buildings, when demolished due to subsidence, being re-built on steel girders allowing them to be jacked up and easily levelled again after subsiding.

Some of the new building benefitted the look of the town, buildings like the post office, now a Wetherspoons pub, and the library, built in what has become to be known as mock Tudor or Cheshire black and white. A building that is now showing signs of wear and has closed pending work to rectify the problems.

Knutsford Guardian: Lion Salt WorksLion Salt Works (Image: Paul Hurley)

This is a very brief look at Northwich through the ages, first salt, and then soda ash.

The Lion Salt Works is a restored historic open-pan salt making site that is now open to the public at Marston near Northwich and the old Workhouse, later The Salt Museum and now The Weaver Hall Museum and Workhouse.

Both are well worth a look.