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Salt Works

Seasalt was manufactured on this site since at least 1660 and probably long before. Serious production here began with King George II's appointment of Southwold as a centre for 'The Free British Fishery' in 1750. This gave the town's herring industry a considerable boost which, in turn, generated a soaring demand for a ready supply of salt for preserving the catch. However, the industry's growth was so vertiginous and its management so lacking in control that the venture was soon massively in debt. As a consequence, the patents, granted to Southwold as the headquarters of the FBF were not renewed when they expired in 1772.

Southwold Corporation - owners of Southwold Salt Works, leases the works and the marsh around it to Joseph Baker of Manchester for 99 years at £11 per year..

Joseph Baker relinquishes the lease just nine years in and it is reassigned to John May, an enterprising merchant and ship-owner whose home is 'The Manor House' at No 65 High Street.

When did the freehold cease to be owned by Southwold Corporation?

Robert May, John's son, who also inherits The Manor House in the High Street, takes on the ownership of the works with his partner, John Wales.

Robert May becomes bankrupt and sells the works to Edmund Preston who also owns a salt works in Gt Yarmouth. (M)

Abraham Leman of Halesworth, purchases the works from Edmund Preston.(M0

Abraham Leman leaves the Salt works.and, a few months later, he and his family leave town. (James Maggs records that 'an execution' is put upon the premises by Wilkinson and Littleboy, a Norwich firm. The latter continue to run the works as a going concern but subsequently sell it to F W Remnant. It is inherited by his son, Percy Remnant who, in turn, sells it to The Southwold Trading Company.

The Southwold Salt Works goes into liquidation.

The works is finally closed and the plant and stock sold off.(purchaser not known)


The site and buildings is sold. (purchaser not known)



Early 1930s
Hubert Palfrey - a local builder, purchases the land and remaining buildings. (See St Edmund's Hall, Fox Yard and 24 High Street for more about Hubert Palfrey)

The remaining Salt Works buildings and wind pump are demolished. Only Salt Works Cottage remains.

Acknowledgements to 'The Saga of the Southwold Salt Makers' by Rosemary Williamson, and 'Southwold as an Industrial Town' by Paul Scriven MBE, both available from Southwold Museum's shop.











Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
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BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

Site of the former Salt Works from the bottom of Gardner Road

The salt works towards the end of its life, The wind pump, in the foreground, is supplemented by a foot-operated pedal pump in the middle distance. Behind the latter is Salt Works Cottage with the attached weighing and storage sheds.

Southwold Museum P1029.2

The trade mark of the Southwold Salt Works' products.

Advertisement from the1874 / 5 Arthur Stebbing Guide. Wilkinson & Littleboy were coal merchants as well as selling salt both wholesale and retail.

David Lee collection.
Click the image to enlarge