November Heritage Talk

Salt of the earth: the salt industry of the Adur Valley

by Dr Janet Pennington

Monday 8th November

This talk uncovers a lost industry of the Adur valley – the making of salt. Salt is something we probably all take for granted, sprinkling it on our roast potatoes or adding it to our salads. Or even, perhaps, trying to eat less of it nowadays.
In earlier times it was so valuable that it was heavily taxed. The French undercut our local market in 14thC by importing their far superior ‘Fleur de Sel’, a very pure white salt, usually called Bay salt, through the port of New Shoreham. Salt was produced by sun evaporation in the Bay of Bourgneuf in southern Brittany, and elsewhere in the Bay of Biscay, but the Adur valley salt, known locally as ‘brown salt’ was made in a very different way, by boiling. There are still traces of the salt-making in the valley today, if you know where to look. This talk will explain how the industry flourished, then faded. When we open our refrigerator door or put food into our freezer, we perhaps forget that our ancestors would have been using salt for the same purpose, to stop their food from going bad. Rents were sometimes paid in salt, it was such a valuable commodity. The farmers of the Adur valley would have known all about it.
So, don’t take all this with a pinch of salt, discover it for yourself!