The production of salt was possibly the most influential industry in Sunderland’s long history and we have chosen our name to reflect this once valuable commodity.
Before refrigeration was developed, salt was used to preserve foods like meat, fish and vegetables and it was needed in large quantities by the local population and further afield.
We know the salt industry here in Sunderland dates back many centuries and in fact propelled the area’s coal mining industry. If you lived by the coast, the easiest way to produce salt was by the extraction from sea water.
The whole coastline would once have been covered with salt ponds. Once collected the water was left over a period of days for it to slowly evaporate, the water then gained a muddy crust of salt on the surface.
This strong brine was boiled in large iron pans in a salt house, where the remaining water was turned to steam leaving only salt crystals. They could then be scooped off, packed and stored or sold.
As coal was required to heat the salt pans, a coal mining community began to emerge in Sunderland. Only poor quality coal was used in salt panning; quality coal was traded via the port, which subsequently began to grow.
The Salt House was a valuable addition to any coastal area at this time and we hope that our Salt House Kitchen Menu will continue to bring our community to our beautiful coast.