Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Sullivan and Co

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British Alkali Works, Widnes, Lancashire.

c.1857 John Brock (1834–1916) initially worked with Crosfield and Shanks, chemical manufacturers, in St Helens, where after ten years he had risen to be manager.

1867 He left Crosfield and Shanks to go into partnership with Edward Sullivan, James Sievwright, and John Crossley as Sullivan and Co; they acquired a 24 acre site to erect the British Alkali Works which was the last sizeable chemical concern established in the canal region of Widnes; its main product was soda ash from the Leblanc process.

In conjunction with the works manager, Brock devised several improvements for the manufacture of bleaching powder.

Brock was a strong supporter of a closer union of the alkali manufacturers

1891 Brock became chairman of the new combine, United Alkali Co, of which Sullivans was a part; he pioneered rationalization which brought brief initial success. Profits peaked in 1892 and thereafter declined rapidly, due in part to American tariff barriers.

1897 United Alkali Co fought back by establishing a factory in Michigan which was run by the North American Chemical Company, of which Brock was president, but this venture failed to improve the fortunes of the company. He retired as chairman of the UAC in 1913.

1921 Amalgamated as Pilkington, Sullivan works.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of John Brock, ODNB [1]