By Leonard Horner, F.R.S. M.G.S.
§ 1. THE town of Droitwich is situated nearly in the centre of Worcestershire, about six miles from Worcester, on the road to Birmingham. For a very long time the manufacture of salt has been carried on to a great extent in this place, and as I am not aware of the existence of any detailed account of the natural and chemical history of the brine springs from which it is procured, I take the liberty of laying before the Society some observations which I made on the spot in October, 1810, together with the results of some experiments I have since made, with the view of determining the chemical composition of the brine.
- In 816, Kenulph, King of the Mercians, gave Hamilton and ten houses in Wick, with salt furnaces, to the church of Worcester.
“At the time of Domesday Survey,” which was finished in 1087, “the only fuel used for boiling the brine was wood, and the demand for it much greater than the neighbourhood of Droitwich could supply, especially as the brine was of a weaker quality in those days, and required to be boiled longer than it does at present.”—Nash's History of Worcestershire.
- In the Philosophical Transactions for 1678, there is a short account of the saltworks of Droitwich by Dr. Thomas Rastel. At that time there were three pits made use of, the greatest of which was thirty feet deep. He found that the brine yielded above one-fourth of its weight of salt.