Boiling house and windpump on the Lymington marshes.
Drawn by GW Bonner for the "Picturesque Pocket Companion to Southampton"
Text below is from the book relating to Lymington (c1840)
Distant from London ninety-five miles, and from Southampton eighteen miles. It stands about a mile from the narrow channel which separates the Isle of Wight from the main land, and affords the shortest and safest passage. Being situate on the brow and declivity of a gentle hill, its salubrity is unquestionable, and its cleanliness as a watering place almost proverbial.
The town consists principally of one long street, at the bottom of which runs the Lymington river, presenting, when the tide is at its height, a fine extensive sheet of water. Ships of 200 or 300 tons burthen can commodiously lie within a few feet of the Quay, and, formerly, vessels of 500 tons could have done the same; but the injudicious measure of throwing a causeway across the river has hitherto quite prevented their approach, by collecting an immense quantity of mud, and so rendering the channel impassable. This however, we are glad to say, is now remedied by a new bridge, and flood-gates, ebbed, has been a means of clearing out and cleansing the channel.
There is reason to believe that the ancient church stood on the north of the present town, on the right of that part of the turnpike road which is called Broad Lane, where a trace of its site may still be discovered in a semicircular hollow. It is supposed to have been destroyed by the French.
The oldest part of the existing church does not exceed the time of Henry the Sixth. It has lately been enlarged, and is now capable of accommodating more than 2000 persons.
The buildings are for the most part neat, and many of them handsome. There are several good hotels in the town, but the principal is the Angel, to which is attached an elegant assembly room. There are several very good libraries, which are much and deservedly frequented; also a for the dispatch of public business.
There are two sets of baths, one at the bottom of the town, the other half a mile distant. These are so contrived, that a bath may be had at any time without waiting for the flowing of the tide, a circumstance of peculiar import to invalids. The amusements of the town are chiefly those of riding, walking, sailing, and reading.
As to the commerce of Lymington, the imports consist chiefly of coals, brought from the northern counties: and the foreign exports are confined to salt, which is the only manufacture of any consequence.
The superiority of the Lymington salt, to that made in any other part of the kingdom (for the purpose of preserving) had, for a long series of years, rendered this the most considerable place both for the production and sale of this article. About forty years since, when these salt-works were at their height, it is said that they annually paid into the exchequer, for duty, no less a sum than £50,000. Since that time, being greatly undersold by the manufacturers of this commodity in the north and north-western parts of the kingdom, (who are enabled, by several local advantages, to dispose of it at a much cheaper rate) the works have been very rapidly on the decline.
The progress of making salt is thus conducted. The sea water is pumped into shallow square pits, dug in the earth. In these it is exposed to the heat of the sun, till so much of its freshness is evaporated, as to leave it seven times stronger than in its natural state. It is next pumped into flat iron pans, eight or ten feet square, and as many inches deep. In these the brine is boiled over a fire, which is gradually increased, till the salt is granulated. This being drained a proper time in convenient vessels, is fit for use. The liquor which runs off during the draining is afterwards crystallized into medicinal salt,—the Epsom salts, or sulphate of magnesia; and the Glauber's salts, or sulphate of soda. The average annual period of working the pans is sixteen weeks, during which time each pan yields from sixteen to seventeen draughts or boilings weekly, amounting from three tons to three and a quarter of salt to each pan for every six days that they continue at work.