The Rookery Bridge Refining Co Ltd, Cheshire Gelatines & Edward Gorton (1865-1952)

wantingcaution !! this is an initial draft of a story about my great grandfather's refining company  ... there are many errors, omissions and inaccuracies for which I apologise ... perhaps someone will correct the errors ... ?

I only keep these notes on my website so I don't lose them !!


The Rookery Bridge Refining Company

Rookery Bridge FactoryThe Rookery Bridge Refining Co Ltd or The Rookery Bridge Bone and Manure Works at Sandbach, on Trent & Mersey Canal, was, until recently, an fascinating example of the old riparian industrial developments which were common on the waterways of the North West. Most of them have now been cleared away, and this works was no exception ... it was already derelict in 1981 when this photo was taken. © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In 1836 Thomas Vickers started bone grinding at a mill in Miles Platting; The Manchester Bone & Manure Works.

Thomas Vickers (1812-87) was born in Bolton and in the 1841 census recorded Thomas and his Shropshire wife Ann (1813-) at Oldham Road, Manchester; his occupation was described as a size manufacturer.

Rookery BridgeIn 1853 Thomas invested in a new manufactory at Rookery Bridge, Elton, Sandbach. A propitious expansion of his Miles Plating Works, strategically positioned and producing fine ground bones.

In 1856 he was paying the Lord Crewe estate for the site lease.    

By 1861 the family had moved up market to Ardwick. Thomas was a grand Manufacturing Chemist employing 60 men. His sons were William (1841-1917); John (1844-79) and Robert (1848-84).

In 1871 Thomas & Ann were at 7 Wilton Polygon, Crumpshall with youngest son Robert. But William was then married to Hannah Maria (1839-1902), and they were living at No 2 Beech Mount Rochdale Road, Harpurhey with daughter Lucy (1869-). William's business was now describes as Soap, Size & Artificial Manure Manufacturer employing 150 men & 4  boys. Secong son John was a Manufacturing Chemist, living next door at No 3 Beech Mount. He was married to Margaret Elizabeth (1842-) with two sons Percy (1868-) and Charles E (1870-).

John Vickers (1844-79) died in 1879, the London Gazette of 1888 confirmed the family details. He was only 35 when he died, his will was proved at the District Registry, Manchester.

In 1881 Thomas & Ann were still at Crumpshall but Thomas had retired and was living off Land & Dividends. Son Robert was unmarried and still living with them and also living off Land & Dividends! William, a Manufacturing Chemist was running the business which was thriving and now employing 262 men & 12 boys. William & Hannah had two boys Thomas (1874-1908) and Herbert (1877-1917) and two daughters and they were living at 29 Smedley Lane, Cheetham. John had died in 1879 and Margaret, now a widow, was living at 4 Crumpsall Cresent, Crumstall with Percy & Charles E.

Robert Vickers (1848-84) just 40 was buried in 1884 in the family vault at Cheetham Hill. He predeceased the old man Thomas died 3 years later in 1887.

In 1891 William, a Manufacturing Chemist, & Hannah Maria were still at 29 Smedley Lane, Cheetham with Herbert.

It appeared John's two boys didn't go into the business. In 1891 Percy was a Farmer, and probably died in 1896 in Wilmslow. And Charles E was an Articled Clerk, he had ventured into law in London.

In 1901 William, Hannah & Herbert were at 29 Smedley Lane with Herbert who had now joined the business as a Manufacturing Chemist. William's eldest Thomas, was in the business, a Chemical Manufacture, married to Laura (1875-) and was living at 6 Wilton Polygon, North Manchester. Thomas died in 1908.

Hannah had died in 1902 so in 1911, William was alone with 4 servants at 29 Smedley Lane and still appeared to be active as a Manufacturing Chemist. Herbert, Manufacturing Chemist, working in the business, was now married to Beartrice (1884-), they were living with servants at 473 Bury New Road, Broughton, Salford.

Thomas Vickers had died of heat failure in 1887 and he was buried at the Wesleyan Cemetery Cheetham Hill. He died a contented man his business was in the capable hand of his eldest William ... wife Hannah died in 1902 ... William died of diabetes in 1917 and was buried with his father in the family 'D vault' at Cheetham Hill ... six months later William's son Herbert also died, tragically of consumption in 1917 at only 41 ... who was going to continue with the business it looked like ?

... and what a great business Thomas & William put together - 

Manchester Bone & Manure Works

In 1882 Edward Ballard in his official enquiry into effluvium nuisance, outlined the immense problems which confronted the animal products industry just before the time Edward Hindley took over the Acton Bridge factory in 1900 ... it was no picnic ... the most disgusting effluvia of all was 'scutch' from glue making process but Thomas Vickers & Sons was leading the ameliorating technology, for example the long flue ... Edward Ballard -

'I have the pleasure of tendering my thanks to those manufacturers who have often, at much personal inconvenience I fear, assisted me - Mr Wm Vickers, bone boiler, size maker, soap manufacturer, and manure manufacturer, of Manchester and Widnes'.

Dr Edward Ballard stressed the 'importance of the industry, second only to alkali manufacture'.

The point that effluvia was a waste and a cost and contrary to the interests of the manufacturer and was no doubt hammered home by William! A manure process 'linked' to glue making was a no brainer. The process at Miles Platting was described by Ballard as an example of best practice.

In 1853 Thomas Vickers built on the success of the Manchester Bone & Manure Works when he announced in The Chester Chronicle the erection of his new works at Rookery Bridge, Sandbach. The location can be pin pointed as 'Rookery Mills Bone' on the 1875 OS map.

In 1854 The Newton Heath Chemical Works adjacent to land belonging to Mr Thomas Vickers was for sale. Was this the site of the Manchester Bone & Manure Works? To the north & west was land owned by Mr Thomas Vickers, to the east was Hulme Hall Road and to the south the Rochdale Canal and land owned by the Dean & Canons of Manchester ... there, clearly marked today is Vickers Street. This district of Ancoats became a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and from the late 18th century onwards Ancoats was a thriving industrial district. The village occupied the land that roughly lies between the River Medlock and the River Irk. And just a little way down the Irk was the C H Smith bone works and the infamous 'Gibraltar'.

The 1856 advertisements mentioned Newton Heath Works, Manchester. A year earlier in 1855 the Manchester Cathedral Archives recorded that The Dean and Canons of the College the leased 5 fields in Newton to Mr Thomas Vickers of Ancoats, Size Manufacturer - 'All those closes of land in Newton which are or were parcells of a tenement in Newton called 'Whitworth's A', heretofore in the tenure of Isabell Whitworth. Commonly called: Grey Field Meadow, the New Field, the Long Field, the Lane Field, and the Little Land (adjoining to the said 'Lane Field' and leading to the said closes hereby granted from a lane in Newton called Stued Lane). Containing 13 acres 2 rood and 34 perches of Lancashire measure'.

By 1856 Long's national Dressing Compositions were being advertised as available from agent Thomas Vickers at The Rookery Bridge Bone Works, Sandbach.

A year later in 1857 The Westmorland Gazette carried an informative advert confirming that the business had been established in 1836 as The Manchester Bone & Manure Works. There was an acknowledgement of the importance of analysis and a chemical balance in manure compositions ... and mentioned also was the competitive Peruvian guano. By this time distribution was via the railways.

In 1857 The Post Office Directory listed Thomas Vickers at Rookery Bridge and also at a second operation at Wheelock ... ?

The same year The Rookery Bridge Bone Works, and proprietor Thomas Vickers were also advertising in The Chester Chronicle. And again a bigger advert in 1859.

In 1858 Thomas Vickers was plying his trade at three locations The Manchester Bone Works, The Rookery Bridge Bone Works and Hazlehead Bone Mills, Sheffield. Interestingly an advert in the Sheffield Independent a year earlier confirmed Mr Byrom the proprietor was at the time in competition with Samuel Meggitt and selling 'specialised' manures for grain, grass & turnips. Joe Byrom moved from the stench of the bone factory shortly afterwards and managed the salubrious 'Rose & Crown' pub in Penistone.

In 1870 The Hazlehead Bone Works made a splash in the newspapers because of a curious pin swallowing incident involving Mrs William Humpheries ... 

In 1860 Thomas Vickers thanked his customers for 25 years of loyalty. Confirming 1835/6 as the year of the establishment of the original works in Manchester.

In 1867 the company was trading as Thomas Vickers & Sons, still at Manchester and Rookery Bridge.

In 1868 the company was advertising in The Wrexham Advertiser, but now suggesting established since 1862.

In 1868 The Chemical Manufactories Directory listed T Vickers at Hazlehead and Newton Heath.

Phosphate FactoryBy 1878 The Widnes Phosphate Works had been added to the Vickers empire.

The 1878 Post Office Directory of Cheshire listed Robert Finlow as the manager at Rookery Bridge ... and also the second operation at Wheelock? Robert Finlow (1849-), Traveller for Bone Works, was found in the 1891 census at Elton Cottage, Elton, Sandbach living with wife Emily (1850-) and 5 sons and 4 daughters.

An 1885 advert confirmed the Manchester Works at Miles Platting, Manchester and the national distribution of products through local agents and the competition from Quibell Brothers.

In 1921 Thomas Vickers & Sons Ltd, Widnes Phosphate Works were still listed in Kelly's Directory of Chemists.

In 1935 the works at West Bank, still trading as Thomas Vickers & Sons, were extended ...

The Widnes site shown on the 1896 map shows that the Phosphate Works was adjacent to the latter day renderers, Granox Ltd of Desoto Road, now part of the Prosper De Mulder Group ... and suppliers of tallow to the Port Sunlight soapmakers. ,

Granox Ltd were originally specialist poultry feed manufacturers from Manchester. In 1928 'The Chemical Trade Journal & Chemical Engineer, Volume 82', G Kelville Davis reported the company formation -

Granox Ltd - Private, to acquire the trademark Granox and business of manufacturers of poultry foods and fats carried on at 51 Cornbrook Road, Manchester by Seares & Benson Ltd. Nominal Capital £16,000 in £1 shares (14,000 preference, 2,000 ordinary) A W Seares, Chesterfield, Bramall Moor Road, Stockport (Permanent Director).

In 1930 The Lancashire Post reported a fire at the Granox Cornbrook Factory.  

The name Granox Ltd first appeared in the Widnes planning applications in 1931 ... at West Bank.

In 1932 the Chemical Trade Journal reported that, 'Granox Ltd of West Bank, Widnes, manufacturers of bone grease, bone meal, etc, who have hitherto marketed the soap made elsewhere from their raw materials, have now commenced the manufacture of soap themselves at their Widnes works'.

In 1937 The London Gazette announced the dissolution of an Ernest Hancock/William Jump partnership at Rookery Bridge. But who ran the business when Herbert Vickers died in 1917?

An advert in 1942 identified E W Hancock as Managing Director.

In 1961 the owners sold The Rookery Bridge Refining Company to Glasgow based conglomerate The John Wallace Group. Diversification was a fashionable business strategy in the 1960s. A few years later in 1965 John Wallace acquired Edward Gorton Ltd of Warrington. Gortons were a significant competitor for the Weaver Refining Company and the Gorton companies feature prominently in our story, see below.

Cheshire GelatinesCheshire Gelatines

Cheshire Gelatines at Sutton Weaver was originally known locally as 'the bone works' and started operations in 1863. This was a new factory erected by Owen Reilly proprietor of The Runcorn Bone Works. Formerly know as The Cheshire Glue Co, this operation was to 'progress' from manures, bone grease & tallow to glues and then to gelatine which would have mimicked the same pattern of economic realities which beset my great grandfather's factory, The Weaver Refining Co Ltd at Acton Bridge ... in the same locality and on a similar site by the River Weaver ...

We can guess what was going on at the Acton Bridge factory from the story of the going ons and happenings at Sutton Weaver just down the river ...

Frank Johnston-Banks remembers the old Cheshire Gelatines factory and has written a graphic description of the process. Frank lived in Little Leigh, at Orchard Close for about two years when he first came up to Cheshire from Northampton after leaving a local gelatine producer which was closing down ... he has fond memories of walks from Sutton Weaver to Acton Bridge for a pint in the Leigh Arms, the 'tunnel' as it was known. Frank worked as the chief chemist & then technical manager at the factory in Sutton Weaver until its closure following the BSE crisis in 1998/9. When Frank arrived in 1980 he worked for Gelatine Products Ltd, the factory previously known as Cheshire Gelatines - its mail offices and parent was an animal glue company in Warrington ... Edward Gorton & Sons, Paddington Works, Warrington.

Cheshire GelatinesThe chemistry and process detail of the early dark satanic processes is an eye opener ... a flavour of the past ... Frank tells the fascinating story ... a good yarn about these early factories which should be recorded and before it is lost forever -

 'Cheshire Gelatines was owned by the 'Gortons' who had the large Glue works at Paddington in Warrington with sister companies - the Rookery Bridge Refining Company which was located on the canal at Sandbach and Cheshire Gelatines at Sutton Weaver. I found references to the Acton Bridge factory along my way at Sutton Weaver ... Acton Bridge was definitely related to the gelatine activities at Sutton Weaver ...

The Sutton Weaver plant I believe was started in around 1860, 'the bone works' was making bone grease etc. Expansion meant a progression into glue and then gelatine ... the company then became known as Cheshire Gelatines.

The place was a throwback to the 1900's as the factory was composed of wooden beams everywhere with wooden washer vessels. Truly dark satanic mills! Taking raw material 'splits' from the Merseyside leather tanneries the company produced gelatine mainly for the food industry. I recall workers carrying open buckets of fuming saturated sulphur dioxide solution up wooden ladders and pouring them onto previously acidified skins in wooden washer drums (2MT capacity). The trick was to pour it in quickly and shut the door before the blast of fumes hit you & knocked you out. Obviously this job given to the novices to do on their first day ... Health & Safety Guv?

Gorton family ran the Gorton Group which led to an incredible brand name ... EGOR ... can you believe it? ... EGOR Gelatine ... I couldn't when I arrived there in 1980.

Gelatine Products LtdWhen I joined in 1980, every other person was called Turner and were all related ... the 'factory family' name was 'Turner'.

Just adjacent to the factory is a row of terraced houses - the Works Cottages. Ask at the doors for who was working at the gelatine factory (mention me if you like) and what you are doing - and I am sure they will talk their socks off! Hopefully with some pics as well.

I recall the factory engineer Jim Turner, still enthusing then about Lancashire boilers! A great guy, started at 14 years old and worked there until his 70th birthday ... and the then MD treated him to a ride on Concorde as a retirement gift!

The warehouse was fully staffed by ladies, driving forklifts and bagging off 25Kg, even 50Kg, bags of gelatine. Betty Turner was the Warehouse supervisors name ... try and speak to her if she is still about. Jimmy Turner, from Northern Ireland, was a foreman and a dozen or so other Turners were there as well.

The main reason for the factory site being on the canal ... was water. The same was true of the Acton Bridge plant on the Weaver. The water supply was crucial, for washing and process water and also a cheap route for dirty water disposal. We had to extract canal water for washing the hides as of course all the bore hole water was salty. In fact the reason the factory stayed viable for so long was that the Weaver Ship Canal (as opposed to the river Weaver) was not included in the 'Clean up the Mersey' campaign in the 70's & 80's. As an industrial waterway, it was exempt and we paid the Canal board a fee to both extract and pollute the canal with ... about 1,000 cubic metres per day of polluted crap ... acid / caustic water containing washings of skin and gelatine ...

Works CottagesTalk to the older boat people at the boat club just up the canal from us then about the grease slicks and 'black' effluent that used to pour out of the plant at times ... all these licenses went when the Canal board was enveloped in the Mersey catchment in the 90's (and about time too!).

There was a Birchall working at Cheshire Gelatines as the site chemist before my time there (1980 - 1998) but I remember several reports & text books around the office with the Birchall name in them. Indeed I have a copy of the 'Rubber Book' (if you ask a chemist they will know what I mean!) on the cover of which I am sure there is the Birchall name somewhere ... it is the 1936 edition and it has to be said that I am still using it today! Birchall was followed by John Chafe who was a chemist and managed the site for the Gorton Family ... at this time Edward Gorton was the boss.

Edward Gorton's power base was a large glue factory in Warrington but when Chinese glues & PVA came on the market in the 1970s the factory struggled.

Rookery Bridge 1948In 1948 Rookery Bridge was still going strong but the industry was ripe for rationalisation and it was time for the Gortons to cash in. The Rookery Bridge Refining Co Ltd probably closed shortly after the business was purchased by the John Wallace Group. In 1964 the Wallace Group bought the Gorton Group, closed Rookery Bridge and concentrated glue production at Paddington Works and gelatines at the Cheshire Gelatine factory at Sutton Weaver.

The Times reported that in November 1964 Edward Gorton (glue & co makers) was sold to the Glasgow based John Wallace Group for £275,000.  The John Wallace Group was a conglomerate, a diversified holding company, such companies were all the rage with investors around this time. By 1965 The John Wallace Group had interests in a variety of fields: Electrical, Jewellery, Textiles, Retail, Timber Products, Chemicals, Engineering, Printing and Agricultural.

Later in 1970 Gortons were sold on to Smithfield and Zwanenberg for £350,000. Smithfield and Zwanenberg were Kent based animal by products manufacturers and were acquired by S & W Berisford in 1973. The Accountant reported on S & W Berisford in 1975 - 'Growth by acquisitions, particularly the commodity brokers J H Rayner (Mincing Lane) and the Smithfield and Zwanenberg group, has been vigorous and the 1973-74 results reflect a full year's contribution from the acquisitions of 1972-73'.

In 1972 'Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics' listed Edward Gorton Ltd (Cheshire Gelatines Branch), at Sutton Weaver.

In 1978, Gelatine Products Ltd bought the assets of another gelatine company called Hodgsons - Richard Hodgson & Sons Ltd, PO Box 5, Beverley, Yorkshire. The MD of Hodgsons sold the physical assets and started a trading company.

The company was bought, as I said, by S & W Berisford who started a food division by the acquisition of small 'cash cow' companies. They also bought the assets of another gelatine company in Colne ... the last remaining gelatine manufacturer from sheepskin in the world I seem to recall. This company also took the name Gelatine Products Ltd.

Berisfords also bought up British Sugar and so we used to have consultations from the swarming crowds for weeks on end at first. However British Sugar proved to much for their digestion and following big losses in trading (and also the imprisonment of its Chairman for corruption!), we were sold in 1991 and picked up by a large German gelatine company called DGF Stoess GMBH. The company did very well indeed until the arrival of BSE in '96 whereupon all the UK retailers (but importantly also the French ...) banned UK gelatine from their shelves. The factory had been fully modernised in the late 1980s but sales dropped, then collapsed and in two years the most profitable gelatine producer in the UK was shutdown in 1999.

In 2005 the DGF Stoess GMBH changed the name to GELITA AG and was still trading.

Croda who had a plant in Widnes hung on for a little longer as they made non food gelatines (mainly photographic) but they too closed in 2000 or so. They had a very good technical guy who as far as I know still lives in Sandiway - one of the houses on the A49 - he retired in about 1998 or so. I am sure he will fill you in on that side of the Croda history ...

BG&C prior to their Croda takeover owned gelatine plants in Bermondsey, Widnes, 2 plants in Luton & a few others I think.

The Halton Council 'history' or 'archives' unit came to take some images of the Cheshire Gelatine site when we had a major revamp of the factories there in about '82 or '83 ...

The company terraced houses are still there next door on the Frodsham road. A knock on the door there is bound to result in someone with long memories! Memory has it that most of the workers were called by the same name ... a real family union who stipulated who was to work or not'!

Frank Johnston-Banks was still working in the gelatine industry over in Yorkshire - but trading the stuff now instead of making it! Frank knew a bit about gelatine in 1990 he penned an expert paper ... Johnston-Banks, F.A. (1990). Gelatin. In P Harris, Food Gels.

We enjoyed a fabulous exchange of emails with Frank during our research ... full of snippets & leads that we vowed not to lose! Frank dug deep into his memory and produced some gelatine recipes and a revealing visit report to Rookery Bridge in 1963 ... real enthralling history of by gone manufactories.

So who was Edward Gorton who sold out John Wallace and started mopping up all these old 'bone works' some 40 years after British Glues & Chemicals had started rationalising production in other locations in the face of international competition?

Paddington WorksThe Gorton family -

The Gorton empire included Paddington Works at Warrington, The Runcorn Bone Works at Sutton Weaver, The Railway Works at Westhoughton, The Rookery Refining Company at Sandbach and C H Smith at Red Bank ... anymore?

Why didn't Edward Gorton join the British Glues amalgamation in 1920?

When did the Leventons sell The Runcorn Bone Works to Edward Gorton?

Edward Gorton (1836/9 - 1912) was born in Wrightington, Lancs, the son of Richard Gorton (1815-), a Quarryman from Wrightington and Margaret (1810-) from Dalton, Lancs. Edward had a sister Margaret (1842-) and brother Richard (1850-).

In 1851 they were living at Dalton Lane, Dalton.

Edward married Ann Mawdsley, 28th Dec 1857, in Thomas the Martyr, Upholland, Lancs.

They had four children -
- William Gorton (1858-)
- Elizabeth Gorton (1860-)
- Margaret Ann Gorton (1862-) married Joseph Wright (1856-) a Stone Mason from Wrightington around 18??.
- Edward Gorton (1865-)

In 1861 Edward was an Agricultural Labourer; the family were at Blackburds House, Lees Lane, Dalton.

Edward's second wife was Mary Shackley, Sept 1869, in Wigan, Lancs.

They had one Child -
- Richard Gorton (1870-)

In 1871 Edward was a Farm Labourer, married to Mary from St Bees, Cumberland. They were living at Higher Lane, Dalton.

In 1881 Edward was now a Publican at The Dicconsons Arms Inn, Wrightington. Margaret Moss (1859-) was Edward's 22 year old unmarried step daughter, suggesting Edward married Mary Moss, not Mary Shackley? 23 year old William was still single and worked as a general labourer. 16 year old Edward junior was a School Teacher.

In 1891 Edward & Mary were still at the Dicconson Arms, Comer Lane, Wrightington, Shevington.

In 1901 Edward & Mary remained at the Dicconson Arms, but Edward was now a Farmer & Publican with unmarried Richard working on the farm.

In 1911 Edward, now 74, & Mary, 80, were still going strongly at the pub. With Richard on the farm and now married to Alice (1875-) and an house full of an extended family ...

Edward (1836-1912) died December 1912, in Wigan, Lancs.

Edward Gorton jr (1865-1952) was born in Dalton.
Married Elizabeth Bimson on 17th July 1888, at St James', Ormskirk, Lancs.
Five children -
- Sybil Gorton - born in 1893 at Wigan, Lancashire.
- Charlotte Margaret Gorton - born on 21 November 1894 at Westhoughton, Bolton. 
- Elizabeth Alice Gorton - born on 22 January 1897 at Ramsbottom, Bury.
- Clara Bimson Gorton - born on 13 August 1898 at Ramsbottom.
- Edward William Gorton - born on 14 April 1900 at Ramsbottom.

In 1881 Edward Gorton aged 16, was School Teacher. Living with his parents and three siblings and a half sister at Dicconsons Arms, Wrightington, Lancs.

In 1891 aged 26, Manufacturing Chemists Agent. Living with his wife at Appley Row, Wrightington, Shevington, Lancashire.

In 1901 aged 36, Glue Manufacturer. Living with his wife and five children and Arthur Bimson his Brother in Law at Chemical Works, Poulton with Fearnhead, Latchford, Warrington, Lancs.

In 1911 aged 46, Glue Manufacturer. Living with his wife and five children and a maid at Warren Hill, Woolston, Warrington, Lancs.

When did this north Wigan family of farm labourers cum publicans go into glue?

The Gortons at some stage associated with the Haworths ...

Edward Gorton junior was a Glue Manufacturer in 1901 and before that in 1891 a Manufacturing Chemist's Agent. Did he work with the Haworths? The Haworths were Manufacturing Chemists ... and had bone businesses close by at Appley Bridge from 1856 and at Westhoughton!

In the 1851 census John Haworth (1824-98) was a Chemicals Maker (sulphate indigo), living at Manchester Road, Warrington. 

In the same 1851 census Cornelius Haworth (1815-82) was a Gelatine Maker Chemical, living at Manchester Road, Warrington.

In 1851 The Chester Chronicle announced the Paddington Bone Works was selling 'boiled bones' ...

It looks likely that Edward Gorton worked for the Haworths and went into partnership with them at Westhoughton before buying the old factory facilities at Paddington?

 Edward Gorton's partnership with John Haworth at Railway Works, Manchester Road, Westhoughton was dissolved in 1896. Although Gorton & Haworth were apparently still advertising in 1902.

Was this the business Edward Hindley and Joseph Neill were involved with in 1903?

Terry Goodwin worked at the Railway Works, Manchester Road around 1975, managing the process with an old mate Ronnie Spedding.

1917 Local businessman and philanthropist Edward Gorton donated a the plot of land bounded by Hillock, Warren and Dam Lanes as a site for the Woolston Church.  In 1968 the first turf was cut by Miss C M Gorton, Mr Edward Gorton's daughter.

Edward died when he was 97 in 1952. He was buried in St Wilfreds, Grappenhall, Cheshire.

Edward William Gorton (1900- 1965) was born in Bury, the son of Edward Gorton jr and Elizabeth Bimson.
He married Ellen Barton. They had three children -

Edward Hugh Gorton (1925-2012). Hughie's baby was the Warrington Chemical & Drug Company Ltd.

Hugh married Rosalie Billington in 1949 in Runcorn.
They had a son Edward Clifton Gorton (1954-) born in Warrington, Cheshire.
And a daughter Vanessa Joy Gorton (1958-) born in Warrington, Cheshire. Vanessa married Peter G Carman in 1979 in Warrington they had a daughter Caroline Helen Carman born in 1983 at Sheffield, South Yorkshire and a son Andrew George Carman born in 1984 at Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Hugh Gorton was a respected member of the Warrington social scene ...

Hugh died when he was 87, in Warrington, Lancashire. He was buried in St Wilfreds, Grappenhall, Cheshire.

Peter Gorton (1928-95) was born on 15 August 1928 at Bury, Lancashire. Terry Goodwin remembered that around 19?? Peter made a detailed film of the processes at the Paddington Works. What a treasure that would be if it could be located. Peter died in Warrington in 1995.

Helen Gorton (-)

Paddington WorksPaddington Works, Warrington.

The 1893 map of Lancashire shows The Paddington Chemical Works off the Manchester Road on the banks of the Woolston Canal. This works also appeared on the 1845 map.

The Bruche estate was sold early in the last century by William Bankes of Winstanley, and was acquired by Jonathan Jackson, sailcloth manufacturer of Warrington. In 1820 a soap works was erected on part of the estate, and given the name of Paddington by Robert Halton, who became Jackson's partner in 1821. Three years later the excise officers of the crown recovered the sum of £6,340 against the partners for double duty upon soap surreptitiously made in a secret boiling-room of which no entry had been made in the excise books. The trade creditors of the firm taking alarm caused it to become involved in bankruptcy, upon which the partners' estates were sold. On 10 December, 1824, the Bruche estate was put up for sale and purchased for £19,200 by Thomas Parr of Warrington, whose son Thomas Philip died without issue in 1891, when the estate passed to his brother John Charlton Parr of Grappenhall Heys, the present owner. From: 'Townships: Poulton with Fearnhead', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907), pp. 328-331.

The Warrington Guardian suggested - the name of Paddington was the invention of Robert Hatton, who erected a soap works on the site in 1820. What prompted the choice of name is unclear but an obvious guess would be a combination of Padgate and Warrington. Hatton had been sued for creating obnoxious smells in Warrington town with an earlier soap works, and had been compelled to move to the outskirts.

Notably the Paddington soap works featured in a case of conspiracy to defraud the Government of duty. Competitors had noticed that the Paddington soap was being sold at a price lower than their own of the same quality. A trap door was found by an officer, which led to a large vaulted chamber that contained contraband soap. The company was forced to pay £6,340 in double duty, and as a result they went bankrupt.

The Paddington Works later became the site of a glue works, and the smell from this works at one time was reported to be even more obnoxious than the original!

In 1823 the bankruptcy of Robert Hatton and Jonathan Jackson senior, soap & candle manufacturers of Poulton with Fearnhead, was reported in The Liverpool Mercury ... and the accounts and papers recorded the fiasco in 1826 ...

It looked like Jonathan Jackson was considerably inconvenienced by the bankruptcy. He lost his old manor house in Poulton with Fearnhead. Edward Baines described the sale to Thomas Parr in 1826/6 in his 'History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster' of 1836. Jonathan Jackson made is money from sailcloth manufacture. Always strategically important for Navy supplies, The Sailcloth Acts of 1736 & 1746 protected the local industry and big men in Warrington went big. Charles Foster confirmed, 'a third to a half of all sailcloth made in Britain in the period 1750-80 came from the Warrington area' ... a credit to responsive business men in the area who were happy to put capital to work to achieve scale in a promising specialisation. Linen sailcloth used imported yarn from hemp & flax spinners in Ireland & Northern Germany woven locally in typically 2ft wide cloth, where labour costs were still relatively low in comparison to London. Jonathan Jackson triumphed in the technical organisation of large scale production.

An amusing postscript to the naming of Paddington & Robert Hatton was recorded in Pamela Sambrook's, 'A Country House at Work: Three Centuries of Dunham Massey' published in 2006. The author paints a fascinating picture of the complex workings of the house and estate but fails to locate Robert Hatton, the candle & soap supplier, in Warrington and assumes his business was in Paddington, London!

In 1851 The Chester Chronicle announced the Paddington Bone Works was selling 'boiled bones' ...

In 1853 a company was established by Messrs Aspden & Royston with initial advertising in The Chester Chronicle.

In 1868 The Chemical Manufactories listed Christopher Royston at Paddington Works.

The Post Office Directory of 1876 listed W & C Royston as Soap & Chemical Manufacturers ...

Slaters Directory of Cheshire of 1895 listed William Royston & Co, Paddington Works, as soap, glue, size & bone manure manufacturers.

In 1903 The Chemist & Druggist announced the formation of a new company Edward Gorton (limited) to acquire the existing business at Paddington which Edward Gorton was running.

1914 Whitakers Red Book - Edward Gorton of Paddington Works, Warrington - Manufacturers of gelatine, glue, size, grease and manure. Speciality: glue free of grease and acid. Employees 50. Company established 1852.

1917 advertising in The Nantwich Guardian.

In 1917 Paul Fisher, born in Llandudno in 1878, capped a distinguished career with an appointment as Analytical Chemist with Messrs Edward Gorton Ltd and The Paddington Chemical Co Ltd, Warrington.

The London Gazette confirmed Edward Gorton was also involved in the Cheadle Corns Mills before 1921 ...

In 1922 and there were adverts for Sodium Salicylate ...                                      

In 1931 a fire broke out at Paddington Works causing £20,000 worth of damage ...

1952 'Fire kept in Check'. Fire broke out in the salicylic acid plant at the Warrington Chemical & Drug Company Ltd of Manchester Road, Paddington, near Warrington, early on 21 May. The works, which are situated on the banks of the Woolston Canal, are a subsidiary of Edward Gorton Ltd. The Warrington Chemical & Drug Company manufactured 'Aspirin' but the primary business of Edward Gorton Ltd was glues.

1958 The Manufacturers Manual listed the Gorton companies. The main Paddington Works manufacturing glues, gelatines, greases, fertilizers & aspirin and the Branch Works at Sutton Weaver manufacturing photographic and edible gelatines.

In 1964 the Gorton family cashed in on all their hard work and sold out to John Wallace.

In 1970 John Wallace sold out to Smithfield and Zwanenberg.

In 1973 S & W Berisford took over.

So what was going on at Paddington Works just off the Manchester Road, on the banks of the Woolston Canal?

Terry GoodwinTerry Goodwin Processed Cows -

In 1950 young 16 year old Terry Goodwin abandoned life as an apprentice French polisher earning 15/- a week and landed a well paid job in the thriving animal products industry at Edward Gorton's glue factory in Warrington. Paid by the hour for as many hours as you liked, the work was hard, but always interesting, and there was enough in the wage packet every week for good living and the awesome task of bringing up and educating four strapping lads ...

A military career was a possible alternative as dad, 28 years, and granddad, 29 years, both had distinguished service in the Lancashire Regiment. It was also rumoured Terry could have made a living out of soccer, during the 1950s he starred with local teams; Monks Sports & Woolston Wanderers ... but looking back the animal products industry was both satisfying and lucrative ... 

 Terry tells the story -

On the face of it processing rotting cows was a less than glamorous occupation but there were valuable and sophisticated products to be made from every part of the cow carcase; nothing was wasted. And there were always hoards of eager customers around for an unbelievable variety of quality products; it seemed it was possible to recover and sell everything! The key issues were obtaining a constant supply of raw materials with a minimum of degradation & loss of value ... there was also the thorny issue of minimising waste & the associated environmental problem ... the animal products industry had a proud record of enterprise and success which has been strangely unrecorded by most industrial historians ...

Tanning - way back in antiquity animal carcasses provided not only, concentrated meat proteins for sustenance but also, processed hides for warmth & protection. Undoubtedly the first part of the carcass to be processed and recovered was the hide. For sure, horns were used for vessels & receptacles and bones were carved into needles & ornaments and even hair was used for mortar & building but these weren't really processed. In the tanneries hides had to be processed if leather was to be useful ... the tanneries always tended to be a separate specialised activity ... and Warrington became famous for its tanneries.

Eventually processes were developed to recover a multitude of goodies ... Paddington Works on Manchester Road was typical ...

Material Collection - in the early days materials came from the butchers via horse & carts and rag & bone men; later canals, railways & imports lengthened and widened the supply chain ... raw material procurement always seemed to be an issue as demand outstripped supply ... demand for butcher's waste? ... who would believe it!

In 1950 raw materials were mainly collected by lorries calling at butchers shops and abattoirs. Paddington relied on daily collection schedules which were were organised around South Lancashire; not only local Warrington but as far afield as Bolton, Bury, Horwich, Preston &  Blackpool ... Gortons bought a 'bone round' from a group of drivers up in Bolton ... contracts were negotiated with these established franchisees who operated on a cash basis; an initial 'float' was used to pay the butchers and at the end of the day the 'take' was weighed at the factory and paid for by Gortons. This system was often difficult; the control of cash and the price negotiation often disrupted smooth operations.

Gortons did not collect in Cheshire in the south until they acquired Rookery Bridge business in the 1960s. The factory was closed down but there was great hope for the 'bone round'. However the contract drivers had other ideas and challenged the price offers and, following a fractious dispute, Gortons established their own fleet of competitive collection lorries ... but they never established a foothold in the cut throat local dealings with the butchers and the initiative was abandoned.

Bone Grinding - after 1800 and Davy's recommendation in 1813 to improve agricultural yields by the application of bone manure, grinding plants sprang up everywhere often where water power was available for crushing; however there was always horsepower and after 1776 & steam engines the location of grinding plants was more flexible. Many factories introduced product enhancements as treated bones produced more soluble super phosphates for manures ... and dietary supplements.

 But Paddington was predominantly a glue factory. The received raw materials were collected from the butchers as separated bones and fat. At the factory the fat went straight to the fat plant but the raw bones were first crushed to dust and 1½ inch pieces by steam belt driven roller mills.

Steam - the boilers were the heart of the factory. Paddington used steam from three Lancashire fire tube boilers for process heating, energy for the drives and steam pumps. It was a cracking boiler house with economisers and the lot. Coal came to Padgate Station from the Lancashire fields around Wigan & St Helens. One of Terry's jobs was carting the coal from the station 5 or 6 miles to the factory ... initially with horse and cart, but later tipper trucks took over. It was heavy hot manual work stoking the boilers. The wharf on the Woolston canal was not used ... except for water ...

Glue Production - animal glues, both bone glues and skin glues, were essentially unrefined gelatine. This natural adhesive glue was manufactured from animal waste & off cuts, mainly hide waste, 'fleshings', from the tanning processors. During processing the fibrous animal hide structure first becomes 'rubber' like and as the temperature rises becomes amorphous gelatine. Further heating resulted in some degradation and such residues were used as glue. The first patent in the adhesives sector was granted in England for the manufacture of a joiner’s glue in ?? Glue products were most profitably sold during the war for aircraft fabrication. After the war synthetics and imports significantly dominated markets and local production declined.

Specialised chrome glues were a mixture of glue and chrome alum; either potassium or ammonium dichromate. On drying these mixtures became very insoluble and could be used as cements for glass, or for waterproofing material fibres.

At the Paddington Works the crushed ground bones went upstairs in bags to the 'benzene' plant where they were loaded into to two revolving steam jacketed cast iron 'cookers' with a central rotating shaft processing 8 tons every 24 hours. After charging and heating, hot benzene was pumped in to a controlled level. Benzene fumed off the unpressurised cooker and was collected in a condenser and recovered for reuse. After 1½ hours the fat & benzene were drawn off. The fat and benzene were the pumped to an evaporator and the benzene recovered. Two or even three runs were taken off and the fourth run was 'weak', the last remnants of fat need 12 hours in the cookers ... waste not want not! The process was complete when the rotating charged could be heard to 'rattle'. The final phase involved recovering the residual benzene with injected steam. A final hour dried off the residue and all was well when dust settled on the sight glass. The contents were bottom discharged into four trolleys, like railway trucks which could be pushed by hand into the 'polishing room' where a big revolving drum sieve separated the 'bones', from the smaller 'dust' ... the small stuff was bagged off ground down and sold as animal feedstuff, 'bone meal', and the larger fractions of bones, 'polished bone', were destined for glue production.

The polished bones went up to the six 'digesters', four in a row and two 'twin digesters', which were filled with 8 tons of bone, the lid was shut and in sequence they were first blown through from the top with very low steam pressure, any residual condensate with any residual smell of benzene was discarded into the canal via settling pits. Quality was important and a minimum of waste was unavoidable. Then followed pressurised steam heating at 20 for five minutes which was vented through the roof before the introduction of clean hot water digestion for 10 minutes. The liquor was then run off; this was the best grade. Six repeats at increasing pressures to the last one which lasted 1½ hours and resulted in a very weak liquor. The liquors were run through a four section one effect evaporator which concentrated the 'glue' to 48-52%.

Preservatives were added to the dark honey coloured glue in heated holding tanks before pumping to the two cooling sheds. 

Terry's first job at Paddington was in the Glue Department where the glue was run off into galvanised 'tins', 3 ft long 9 inches wide 8 inches deep where the glue cooled & solidified and was taken in trucks to the girls in the packing room where it was immersed in hot water, taken out of the tins and cut in half and then 'the cake' was machine cut into slices, like slices of bread, before being dried off on wire nets in a oven ... for a week ... before being packaged in hessian sacks read for sale.

Sisson Bros, paint manufacturers in Hull, were a large customer of 'cake glue'. Other customers wanted a product which dissolved more easily and the cake was ground to increase the surface area; others wanted a glue which didn't froth, and this variant involved an anti foaming additive.

The residual bones in the digesters were like 'powder between finger and thumb' ... the material was taken out and stacked 6ft by 20ft high in bays to dry off before being bagged up and sent off to the potteries to make 'bone china' when mixed with China clay ... the best, you can see your finger through it! Any residual dust from the bays was collected and sold as 'bone meal' for the garden ... very good for roses!

Great care was taken over the fire risk ... no clogs with steel tips! And never mind the stink it was a job and it paid well! If you got on with the job and produced the goods Gortons never bothered you ... they were a successful company.

This production process involved the traditional methods which had been going on for years and were undoubtedly similar to the operations employed at The Weaver Refining Company; Edward Hindley's factory at Acton Bridge.

An innovation at Paddington was the manufacture of 'pearl glue'. In this process instead of running the glue into the 'tins' to solidify it was pumped high up to a 'drip tray' full of pierced holes through which the glue 'dripped' into an 80 ft tower full of refrigerated 'white spirit'. Considerable effort went into the design of the holes with nipples which formed the desired clean break of spherical shape of the dropping pearls ... magic! The jellied pearls were shaken out of the white spirit, which was recovered, while the pearls went on to be dried. The drier was a massive contraption, 30 foot tall 60 yards long with six layers of belting with rakes ... the resulting dried product was bagged off a hard pearls of glue ... easy for the customer to handle and melt! Egor was the brand name with an elephant logo!

Oils & Fats Recovery - oils, fats and greases were recovered from all material by heating and solvent extraction with benzene.

Steam was used to heat up material in pressurised? agitated? 'cookers'. Oils & fats were runoff sieved, filtered and cooled to stop degradation. The remaining mixed solids 'greaves' were valuable as animal feeds.

The recovered oils & fats products had extensive markets as food additives and for lubrication & preservation but most of the Paddington product went for making soap at Crosfields, just down the road, and to Levers at Port Sunlight. The 'tallows' were graded by colour, the better the colour the better the price.

Paddington Works 1908sTerry discovered a magnificent photo of the Gortons Glue Factory from the 1980s. Several of the factory buildings can be clearly seen. They all had a load of stories to tell before they were demolished in 19??.

Terry Goodwin worked in every department at Gortons up to the 1970s building up his expertise. Due reward came in the early 1970s when he was sent off as manager of a newly acquired factory; C H Smiths at Red Bank, Manchester. Gortons had secured a big contract for raw materials from the Manchester abattoir; 10 tons per day ... all good clean bones ... the capacity, close by, at Red Bank was needed!

In about 1974 C H Smiths were, unsurprisingly, having endless trouble with the local council ... the works were close to Victoria Station ... and the factory closed down.

Around this time new facilities for meat & bone meal production only were put in at Paddington as synthetics decimated the glue trade. Five spanking new fully automated perchoroethylene cookers ... nothing was touched by hand ... this was a new era for the Paddington Works ... the days of benzene fumes were over ...    

Shortly after this drama Gortons were taken over by Granox, a big firm in Widnes, part of the S & W Berisford Group. In 1963 Granox, then a private family firm, had been acquired by Smithfield & Zwanenberg who were taken over by Berisfords in 1973 ... and then by, 'the enemy', Prosper de Mulder in 1980.

Granox also had a factory in Liverpool, The Liverpool Fat & Bone Company, a very small unit which was hardly worth any effort but Terry was transferred there in 1974. But he didn't stay long and in 1975 there was a bigger, long established factory from 1800 at Westhoughton, T & A Burns Ltd, animal fat refiners, the proprietors were the Holts, but by then it was part of the Granox group, collecting materials from the Blackpool & Preston area and sending the greaves on to Widnes. Eventually Granox closed it down and focused all production at Widnes where facilities were massive ... jobs, it seemed were coming thick and fast, change was in the air ...

An old mate, the ex Managing Director of C H Smiths, Vivian Upton, had been moved out of the Red Bank factory when Gortons took over. He was offered a sinecure at the Warrington factory in sales but didn't linger there long. Vivian Upton, bought a skin glue business; Traydell at Littleborough, Rochdale. Terry had earned his spurs in the animal products business and he knew his stuff ... and Vivian Upton knew he knew his stuff and in the early 1980s Vivian offered a job to his old colleague!

There was reorganisation, upheaval and change everywhere as the industry adjusted to new competitive pressures & new markets; production facilities were rationalised nationally ...

Traydells were taken over by Essex Rendering Ltd, High House, Stapleford Abbotts, Romford, Essex RM4 1EJ ... and almost inevitably Terry went with the new owners to show them the ropes. The first job was putting a plant in at Duxford; this was a sizable project - in 1981 Bulk Solids Handling Volume 1 - commented, 'Essex Rendering, a family firm, closed its Lancashire factory and moved the meal production plant to Duxford, a task taking about three months from start to finish. Now the Duxford Factory is making into meal some 350 tons of greaves a week, including about 200 tones made at the company's headquarters at Stapleford Abbotts, Essex'. But there was the almost inevitable trouble with the authorities spillages and odours in the rural village were uncontrollable! A project to move to an old aerodrome at North Pickenham, Norwich to take over a rendering factory owned by G D Bowles, pork butchers from Wharton. The project started, a new boiler was put in, and the cookers from Duxford were transferred ... but what a tragedy the ownership agreement came to nought and the new facilities were lost ... counterparty risk! It seemed the odds were stacked against those struggling with the rendering 'end game' in the UK ... things didn't go well Traydell was dissolved in October 1990 and Essex Rendering followed in August 1991. 

Clearly the animal products business was subjected to intolerable strain ... sales plummeted as costs of regulation rose and factories closed ... in 1985 the writing was on the wall and Terry packed his bags and left for a job in North Sea oil ...

Gorton Christmas PartyTerry had a great photo to remind him of happy days at Gortons ... a Christmas party from 1950 with the Gorton family and all the staff from Warrington ... and Frodsham ...

Front row, left to right - John Bailey (raw material crusher); Peter Gorton; Mrs & Edward Gorton; Mrs & Hughie Gorton; John Chafe (chemist); Jack Fisher (chauffeur)

Next row - unknown (Frodsham); unknown (Frodsham); Mary McMahon (glue); unknown (Frodsham); ?? Turner (Frodsham, with the tie); ?? Turner (Frodsham, with the middle hair parting & two girls on either side from Frodsham); unknown (Frodsham); Elsie Bibby (office manager) & daughter; ?? Miller (office girl)

Next row - Don Hewitt (Warrington Chemical & Drug); ?? another Turner (Frodsham); Mabel Clarkson (Warrington Chemical & Drug, next to unknown with moustache); George Warburton (gardener, at the back);

Next rows unidentified except for a youthful almost hidden Terry Goodwin.

Back row - Glue girls - Polly Barlow; Jean Brown; May Carr; Marjorie ??; May Clark; Francis Connor (chargehand); Harry Bibby (with glasses, benzene operator); Jack Clark (Warrington Chemical & Drug, below the glue girls); John Roscoe (boiler man); Albert Johnson (at the top right, general labourer); Stan Davies (Warrington Chemical & Drug)

Help needed to identify others?

Two of Terry's big mates were missing from the photo; they were doing their National Service 1950 to 52. John Pennington was in the laboratory and later did a stint as Mayor of Warrington and Derek Stubbings was a fitter and Terry's best man. Terry did his National Service 1952 to 54 after his missing mates; these dates enabled the photo to be dated at 1950.

Monks Sports and Woolston Wanderers were local soccer teams

The Frodsham factory was interesting. Edward Gorton had tried another route to business expansion when he purchased a branch works; Cheshire Gelatines at Frodsham Bridge from the Levertons. This was the factory erected by Owen Reilly proprietor of The Runcorn Bone Works in 1863. Formerly know as The Cheshire Glue Co, this operation was to progress from manures, bone grease & tallow to glues and then to gelatine which was the pattern of economic reality from low to higher value animal by products ...

Gelatine Production - gelatine was derived from collagen, the insoluble fibrous protein which was the principal constituent of connective tissues and bones. Collagen was vulnerable to heat and the fibrous structure first became rubber like and as the temperature rose became amorphous (gelatine). In the early days uncontrolled heating of carcase remnants resulted in degradation and residues were used as glues.

1875 was considered to be a milestone in modern gelatine manufacture. Thanks to the emergence of small factories, large quantities of gelatine were now manufactured industrially.

Later more sophisticated 'refining' of the collagen resulted in higher value gelatine being recovered from collagen by controlled hydrolysis.

The principal raw materials used in gelatine production were cattle bones & hides. Extraneous material, minerals (in bone), fats and unwanted albuminoids (in skin), were removed by chemical and physical treatment to give purified collagen. The collagen was then hydrolyzed to gelatine which was then soluble in hot water.

Gelatine from bones - The production from bone requires that the bone be crushed, degreased and all meat residues removed before demineralisation using dilute hydrochloric acid to solubilise the calcium carbonate and phosphate in the bone. The resulting sponge like organic protein material was called ossein, which was converted to gelatine by heating in water, filtration and ion-exchange of the resulting solution to remove contaminants, and then the solution is concentrated, gelled and dried. Finally the dry gelatine can be milled to a fineness most suited to its use i.e. fine ground for fast dissolving or coarse ground for minimal foam generation in confectionery manufacture.

Gelatine from hides - Cattle hides are usually pre-processed at the tanneries. They are de-haired chemically with a lime/sulphide solution followed by mechanical loosening. The hides are split where the grained outer layer tanned for leather and the inner 'splits' are used for gelatine production.

In the manufacture of gelatine from hides, the process depends very much on the age of the animal. For young animal hide, the hide can be simply acidified to about pH 4 and then warmed to denature the collagen, which then dissolves as gelatine. Older bovine hide requires an alkaline pre-treatment to separate hair and condition the hide to make it dissolve in hot water. After the alkaline treatment which has a marked chemical effect on the hide and causes dissolution of most of the non-collagen components, the hide is acidified and then dissolved in hot water as with young animal hide. The gelatine solution is then filtered, ion-exchanged, sterilized, concentrated, gelled and dried normally. It should be noted that the alkali process produces a gelatine with an isoelectric point (pI) of about 5 whereas gelatines produced without any alkaline treatment of the collagen have a pI of 7 to 9. For the housewife this has no importance but in more demanding applications pI can be very important.

Both ossein and cattle hide splits processes were originally lengthy treatments using alkali (usually lime) and water at ambient temperature for 8-12 days. The process was controlled by the degree of alkalinity of the lime liquor as determined by titration with acid. Some deamination of the collagen invariably occurred, with evolution of ammonia. After conditioning, the raw material was thoroughly washed with cold water to remove excess lime; the pH adjusted with acid; and the product extracted with hot water to recover the soluble gelatine.

Gelatine Customers.

Gelatine was an odourless, colourless and tasteless solid protein derived from bones, hides, tendons and other animal tissue. It was an irreversible hydrolyzed form of collagen and was classified as a foodstuff with an E-number E441. Gelatine set firmly when cold and melted completely at 35°C. It was commonly used as a gelling agent in the manufacture of foods, pharmaceuticals, photographic film, cosmetics and paper & paints.

Foods - a gelling agent in cooking, different types and grades of gelatine are used in a wide range of food products. Common examples are gelatine desserts, trifles, aspic, marshmallows, candy corn and confectioneries such as jelly babies. Gelatine is also used as a stabilizer or thickener in foods such as jams, yoghurt, cream cheese and margarine. It is used, as well, in low fat foods to simulate the mouth feel of fat, creating volume without adding calories. Gelatine is used for the clarification of juices, such as apple juice, and of vinegar.

To make a refrigerated table jelly one needs 2% gelatine in the water or 10 g to 500 ml water. Marshmallows requires about 2.5 % gelatine by weight and French jellies or jelly babies require 4 to 6 % gelatine by weight.

A mixed diet gelatine has the advantage of being high in the essential amino acid lysine.

Pharmaceuticals - gelatine constitutes the shells of capsules in order to make them easier to swallow.

Photographic film - in 1871, important discoveries by the English doctor Richard Leach Maddox led to a decisive breakthrough in photography. The doctor developed a dry plate with a bromine silver-gelatine layer that was just as sensitive as the wet plate used thus far. After further research Charles Bennet presented a satisfactory dry plate method. One of the main advantages of this new technology was that the exposure times during photography could be much shorter. Despite efforts, no suitable substitutes, with the stability and low cost of gelatine, have been found to hold silver halide crystals in an emulsion in virtually all photographic films and photographic papers.

Cosmetics - a non gelling variant of gelatine, hydrolyzed collagen, is used in cosmetics.

Paper & Paints Size - gelatine was used for surface sizing, smoothing glossy printing papers and maintaining the wrinkles in crêpe paper and improving the adhesion and surface properties of paints.

Gelatine as a close relative of bone glue, was also used as a binder for match heads and sandpaper.

Eventually the gelatine industry in England, like the glue business, was subjected to similar relentless pressures and slowly died.

Prior to 1960 the industry was decentralised with a multitude of local processing of local waste. After 1960 the animal products industry which had flourished mightily in its halcyon days was eventually formidably challenged as the whammies which had been rumbling for decades piled up -

raw material supply became dependent on a waste management role for tightly regulated local abattoirs

meat consumption and hence raw material supply stagnated, but food processing units became lager thus requiring larger waste processing factories

the industry modernised technology; capital intensive high throughput continuous equipment from the US and Germany  was introduced and production was rationalised into larger groups strategically located to minimise material collection & product distribution costs and maximise economies of scale

solvent extraction of greaves became uneconomic as the price of petroleum rose and furthermore preference for increased fat content of feeds made extraction redundant

imports of bones were superseded by imports of finished added value products

synthetic PVA glues and alginate substitute gelatines displaced expensively refined traditional products

 environmental controls on odours and effluents pushed expensive technology to the limit and pushed inner city factories to the outskirts of town

there were more lucrative opportunities elsewhere as comparative advantage ebbed away

the final death knell came from interference and the BSE fiasco

The few surviving companies moved into higher added value products and amalgamated to secure limited raw material supplies.

Some like British Glues & Chemicals moved into edible gelatine then into global speciality chemicals with Croda.

Some like Leventons & Edward Gorton glue makers & renderers moved into the Prosper de Mulder waste service monopoly - a group Terry Goodwin always described as the 'enemy' -

John Knight (ABP) Ltd - Silvertown, London

J L Thomas - Exeter, Devon

De Mulder & Sons Ltd - Nuneaton, Warwickshire

Granox Ltd - Widnes, Cheshire

Others like Cheshire Gelatines moved into specialised global companies like GELITA AG ...

... most like Rookery Bridge and Paddington Works just closed down ... technology, customers and markets had moved on ...

Terry Goodwin was a smart cookie and after a lifetime in animal products factories learning, teaching and working hard to extract valuable chemicals from waste, he cashed in his chips and moved into the expanding hubbub of North Sea oil ...

Terry Goodwin (1934-2014) - Terry Goodwin passed away in July 2014, although I never met him, I am happy to call him a friend indeed. I loved his enthusiasm and can record that -

'the best part of his working life was the time he spent in the animal by-product processing industry, and remembering these times for this research was a real pleasure for him'.


Gelatine Products Ltd
Clifton Rd
Sutton Weaver
WA7 3EH.

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