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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

ICI LIME BEDS 1973

A strangely attractive place created by the local chemical industry and pictured here in the early 1970s, before British Salt acquired the site and bull-dozed it to facilitate the dumping of salt scale in the area, ruining its unique nature forever.
What looks like an inland salt lake is in fact made up of waste from the ICI Soda Ash works which stood close by. The waste was taken up onto the edge of the lime beds on small dumper trucks running on a narrow gauge railway, and then tipped into the 'lagoon'. Like many industrial lines, this was a primitive affair, with the tracks laid roughly  straight onto the ground (or rather the embankment, which was itself made up of alkali waste mixed with cinders) and trains pulled by simple petrol driven locos. My Uncle Amos (Hodgkinson) was one of the drivers of these trains.
As we noted here, British Salt eventually took over the lime beds and used diesel-powered dumper trucks to bring waste from their then relatively new works in Cledford Lane (visible in the background of this picture). This necessitated the replacement of the footpath across 'Poppityjohns' with a utilitarian roadway which changed the character of the whole area.
The lime beds were used in the 1990s for the dumping of waste from the site of the Tesco Distribution Centre off Holmes Chapel Road. This occurred during a long hot summer and caused dust clouds which gave rise to many cases of asthma locally.
The lime beds are still there, dominating the main road and Trent and Mersey Canal from Poplar Drive to Cledford Lane, although plans are put forward from time to time to remove them and replace them with - what else? - housing, but this would be a mammoth task and probably prohibitively expensive.
It can be done though, as the removal of a similar, though much smaller, lime bed in Brooks Lane in the 1970s proved.
There are also lime beds on the outskirts of Northwich associated with Lostock Works. These are officially referred to as the Griffiths Road Lagoons and have for many years been home to a huge colony of bats..

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