A CLUB continuing to celebrate its centenary has been treated to a look behind the scenes at a historic rock salt mine.

Members of Northwich Rotary Club paid a visit in January to the Winsford rock salt mine, run by Compass Minerals UK off Bradford Road.

The history of the site, which is the UK's largest and oldest working mine, began in 1844 when local prospectors were searching for coal.

It lies around 150 metres under the countryside just north of Winsford and is Britain's largest supplier of natural rock salt.

Peter Holland, Northwich Rotary Club president, said: "It was a fascinating visit with the mine's history dating back to 1844 and being brought up to date with its present operational activity and about their future.

"After a health and safety site induction, it was downwards into the mines, with the tour concluding by going up to the working salt face where they are extracting rock salt.

Northwich Guardian: Members of the Rotary club on their tour of the mineMembers of the Rotary club on their tour of the mine (Image: Northwich Rotary Club)

"The area underground is vast and has approximately 160 miles of roadway.

"We travelled a total of eight miles to see the mining process from start to finish.

"Along the route, we encountered heavy machinery and transport, and with the height of a house down there, there is ample headroom, with a width wide enough for two vehicles safely to pass each other.

"We were given an overview of how the rock salt is excavated and processed before getting it to the surface.

Northwich Guardian: Inside the mineInside the mine (Image: Northwich Rotary Club)

"It also gave us a greater appreciation of the rock salt on the highways and where it comes from."

The Winsford mine closed in 1892 due to the market being over-supplied, with salt also coming from mines in Northwich.

But it reopened in 1928 when the last mine in Northwich flooded.

After more than 100 years of mining, the void left under the countryside was turned into a unique storage space - free from the dangers of ultraviolet light, vermin or flooding - with the establishment in 1998 of DeepStore.

Northwich Guardian: Rotary club members on their tourRotary club members on their tour (Image: Northwich Rotary Club)

According to Compass Minerals, treasured paintings, historical records and architectural models are among the items stored in the Winsford location.

Peter added: "We were also taken to an area of the mine used by DeepStore for secure document and artefact storage, which takes advantage of the consistent temperature and humidity in the mine for preservation.

"It was also pleasing to hear the company's stance on supporting the local community, environment, employee well-being and mental health which also aligns with our Rotary values.

"We would like to take the opportunity to thank Compass Minerals UK for a great and informative visit, and wish them a successful future and for them to celebrate their milestones too."