Page:A tour through the northern counties of England, and the borders of Scotland - Volume I.djvu/77

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tion, who were the grantees, immediately brought an action against him for this interruption of their rights; but after several hearings and great expence, their monopoly was set aside, and a verdict recorded, that all such persons as possessed property without the limits of the royal grant, had a right to sink pits, and manufacture salt for their own profit without molestation. In consequence of this adjudication, the value of the original pits gradually dwindled away, till at length, in the year 1725, it vanished into nothing; a method being then discovered by Sir Richard Lane of increasing the product of the brine in a tenfold proportion, by boring through the stratum of gypsum, that hitherto had formed the floor of these springs. No sooner was this perforation made, than a stream of strong brine boiled up with such prodigious force as to destroy the workmen who were employed in the pit. After this successful experiment of Sir Richard, the whole neighbourhood adopted his plan, so that in a short time a considerably larger quantity of brine was produced than could possibly be consumed in the manufacture, to the total destruction of the old pits, and the utter ruin of many families and charties, which had the whole of their income secured upon them. The basis of the country hereabouts