A NEWLY-RESTORED, 10-metre tall 'Nodding Donkey' pump mechanism is the latest attraction at the award-winning Lion Salt Works Museum.

The distinctive structure, also known as the Brine Extraction Train, is a crucial part of the open-pan, salt-making story as it shows how brine was pumped from beneath the earth before being boiled to extract salt.

Located at the heart of the Lion Salt Works – a Scheduled Ancient Monument with the same protection status as Stonehenge – the project was funded using contingency money set aside during its four-year, £10m restoration completed in 2015.

Rebecca Mills, senior architect at Donald Insall Associates, said: "This has been a challenging but rewarding project.

"It started with carefully dismantling the surviving heritage, salvaging as much as possible for restoration. The brick bases were re-built on new foundations, saving as many of the existing bricks as possible, to help prevent the notable subsidence and ensure that they were structurally sound enough to support the rocking motion of the ‘Nodding Donkey’ and the weight of the new header tank.

"This brought about its own challenges when below ground archaeology was uncovered, leading to a swift re-design of the existing foundations and anchor locations on site."

Northwich Guardian:

For practical reasons, no brine will be pumped physically to the surface but instead will be capped with a blanked off stainless steel sleeve just below ground level to give the illusion of brine being extracted.

The Nodding Donkey has been designed to work almost silently and is powered by the site’s existing electric-powered steam pump.

The museum explains the story of Cheshire’s important salt industry, which brought work and prosperity to the region.

Salt also explains Cheshire's many canals and ‘flashes’ and its strength in the chemical industry.

The restoration of the pump is a joint initiative by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Donald Insall Associates, with main contractors MPH and specialists from Industrial Heritage Consulting and JPS Restoration.

Ramboll carried out structural engineering works and Earthworks provided archaeological supervision, with historic research from Lion Salt Works Trustee Juan Cunliffe.

He and other trustees and volunteers from the Lion Salt Works have also provided information for the new display boards. The work has taken four months to complete.