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British Industrial History

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Jarrow Chemical Co

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Jarrow Chemical Company, chemical manufacturers of Jarrow-on-Tyne

1822/3 Isaac Cookson, a glass maker, founded a small alkali works in the centre of South Shields, moving shortly afterwards to Templetown near Jarrow Slake.

1835 For a short time from 1835 Cooksons also operated another alkali works at nearby Westoe.

1843 Such was the damage caused by smoke and effluent gases that a series of prosecutions led to the closure of the Templetown works, then known as the Jarrow Alkali Works.

1844 The works were acquired and reopened by the Jarrow Chemical Co., formed by James Stevenson senior (d. 1866) and John Tennant of Glasgow, William Stevenson of London, and John C. Williamson of Hull. The Tennant family, alkali manufacturers, put up one sixth of the original £36,000 capital for the Jarrow Chemical Company and were involved in other combined ventures. The Tennants set up their own alkali works at Hebburn-on-Tyne in 1863.

The new owners effected rapid improvements and within a few years were manufacturing Epsom salts, bleaching powder, and copper sulphate, as well as the usual products of the Leblanc alkali process.

Revolving ball furnaces, invented by Messrs. Elliott and Russell, of St. Helen's, were used in the Jarrow Chemical Works[1] added to the efficiency of the works.

1854 After the retirement of James Stevenson, the business was managed by his son James Cochran Stevenson (1825-1905) together with John Williamson (c.1822-87), the son of John C. Williamson.

1843 James Stevenson senior moved from Glasgow to South Shields as senior partner of the Jarrow Chemical Company, alkali manufacturers. Stevenson may have had connections with

1854 His son, James Cochran Stevenson, took his father's place in the management of the company.

1855 Williamson and Stevenson patented a revolving kiln to improve the efficiency of the production process.

Within a few years it was the second largest chemical company in Britain (after Tennant's St Rollox works). With Tennants, the Jarrow Chemical Company developed brine deposits on Teesside for salt and were also involved with the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Co, set up to mine pyrites in Spain to supply sulphur.

1858 the firm acquired the Friars Goose Chemical Works, Gateshead

1858-1868 The company also owned the Willington Quay Copper Works

By the 1870s the Jarrow Chemical Company employed 1400 men.

1885 Limited company registered; it was owned by various members of the Stevenson family, Williamson and Sir C Tennant

1890 The Leblanc process operators merged their interests into the United Alkali Co to rationalize production. Stevenson, who had been very active in the merger negotiations, became a vice-chairman; almost all of the Leblanc plants were closed over the next few years., including Jarrow Chemical Company.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1863/09/25
  • Biography of James Cochran Stevenson, ODNB [1]
  • Archives of the British chemical industry, 1750-1914: a handlist. By Peter J. T. Morris and Colin A. Russell. Edited by John Graham Smith. 1988.