Cheese Making and Salt Smuggling

Cheese Making and Salt Smuggling

There was a tax on salt from 1695 until 1825. A great deal of salt smuggling took place.

Romper Lowe, head of a gang of salt smugglers in Allostock and Lach Dennis, would sit for hours in the Bull's Head Allostock (now Brook House Farm) with an empty bag as though he was going to do the stealing. Meanwhile his gang would be smuggling salt into the woods nearby. Then he would sell it to the cheese making farmers at a cheaper rate.

There are many tales of smugglers daring and influence. One reports that smuggled salt was stored in Allostock Chapel, hidden under a tarpaulin but clearly in view of the congregation who said nothing. Coffins of "seasoned oak" took on a double meaning !

William Carter in the early 1800's was tithe collector, parish constable and a worthy church going citizen. One dark night he was woken by Romper Lowe’s salt smuggling gang when their cart was stuck in a ditch on the Northwich Road near Allostock Hall. The Constable sent his horse man and horse to pull them out !

Salt Tax

Salt was among the goods selected for duty when Parliament first introduced excises in 1644 and for almost 200 years there was excise duty on salt until 1825.

The problem was, salt duty was very unpopular - it put a heavy burden on the poor. But it was also a handy way of raising much-needed revenue when the country found itself at war. William III grasped the salt solution in 1694 to help pay for the French wars, and rates were raised by George III in 1767 during the American War of Independence.

Many thanks to Julia Wilson who provided much of the History section, and acknowledgements to the late Charles Bentley who resourced some of the local history and to Gordon Nisbett for much of the information on the history of Allostock School and the WI and others for local memories.