Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
Machine for pressing Bakelite. Exhibit at London Science Museum.
1929. British Industries Fair catalogue.
Sept. 1946.
Sept 1949. Engineering and Marine Exhibition, Olympia stand.
January 1952.
November 1954. Vybak.


October 1955.


November 1957.
March 1958. Warelite Plastics.
June 1958.
August 1958.
September 1958.
July 1959. Warerite wallboard.
May 1960. Warerite.
June 1961. Warerite.
November 1961.

of 68 Victoria Street, London, SW1. Telephone: Victoria 5441-2. Cables: "Bakelite, London". Works in Birmingham and Darley Dale - 1929

Ditto Address: Telephone: Victoria 5441 (4 lines). Telegraphic Address: "Bakelite, London" Works in Birmingham - 1937

of 12-18 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1. Telephone: Sloane 9911. Cables: As above - 1947

1910 Company established.

Bakelite is a material based on the thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, (polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride), developed in 1907–1909 by Belgian-American Dr. Leo Baekeland. Formed by the reaction under heat and pressure of phenol (a toxic, colourless crystalline solid) and formaldehyde (a simple organic compound), generally with a wood flour filler, it was the first plastic made from synthetic components. It was used for its electrically non-conductive and heat-resistant properties in radio and telephone casings and electrical insulators, and was also used in such diverse products as kitchenware, jewellery, pipe stems, and children's toys. In 1993 Bakelite was designated an ACS National Historical Chemical Landmark in recognition of its significance as the world's first synthetic plastic.

The name Bakelite was originally a brand, trademark name, but it is currently considered a generic term for all phenolic resin products, though some phenolic products besides Bakelite are brand-named.

1922 Bakelite Corp. was formed from the consolidation of three companies. General Bakelite Co, Condensite Corp, and Redmanol Chemical Products Company, an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913 by Lawrence V. Redman. The American Catalin Corporation acquired the Bakelite formulas in 1927 and currently manufactures Bakelite cast resins.

1926 By agreement with Baekeland in America, Bakelite Limited was formed from the amalgamation of three suppliers of phenol formaldehyde materials: the Damard Lacquer Co of Birmingham, Mouldensite of Darley Dale and Redmanol of London, to exploit Baekeland's phenol formaldehyde patents in England.

c1928 a new factory opened in Tyseley, Birmingham. (The building was demolished in 1998).

1929 British Industries Fair Advert for Bakelite ('The Material of a Thousand Uses'). Synthetic Resin Products including Insulating Varnishes, Moulding materials, Lacquers, Cements, Transparent Rod and Sheet, Laminated Sheet and Silent Gear material; Moulded parts for Wireless Apparatus, etc; 'Applications of other products will be demonstrated'. (Wireless Section - Stand No. MM.37) [1]

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for: Moulding Materials; Cement, Spirit and Oil Soluble Synthetic Resins for Paints and Varnishes; Lacquers, Laminated Materials for Electrical Insulation, Gears and Furniture. Laminated Sheet, Rod and Tube, Silent Gear Material. (Electricity: Industrial and Domestic Section - Stand No. Cb.508) [2]

1937 Manufacturers of Bakelite synthetic resin products. "Formite" Bakelite Specialities. "Mouldensite" Bakelite Specialities. "Trefoil" Specialities. [3]

1939 The company was acquired by the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

WWII: supplier of materials for moulding, resins, sheets, rods and tubes; used in radio and telephone components; compatible materials developed for use in shells and mines and bombs; reinforcing materials developed for wooden aircraft, especially the Mosquito; extra factories built; production doubled[4].

1945 Intention to enter new fields of plastics, including vinyls for electrical insulation and other uses; a new factory would be constructed at a new site[5].

1947 British Industries Fair Advert for Plastics of every description. Manufacturers of "Bakelite" Plastics. Synthetic Resins, Moulding Materials, Laminated Sheet, Rod and Tube. Warerite Veneered Board and Wall Panels. "Vybak" Vinly-chloride Copolymer Extrusion Compounds. Examples of the use of these materials. (Plastics Section - Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 810) [6]

1948 Converted into a public company but no intention to apply for listing of shares on the Stock Exchange[7]

1948 Production of urea moulding compound had started at the Aycliffe site[8].

1949 New research laboratory opened at Tyseley; subsidiary Warerite was growing its business in decorative materials[9].

1952 Plan to list shares on London Stock Exchange. One of the associated companies Synthetic Chemicals Ltd had started production of sulphuric acid which was a precursor in the manufacture of phenol, one the company's raw materials; PVC production was expected to start at Aycliffe in 1953[10]. Substantial share holding held by Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation and by Pinchin, Johnson and Associates Ltd.

1955 Heavy explosion at the Vinyl Resin Plant at Aycliffe[11].

1962 Distillers Co and Union Carbide agreed to transfer the majority holding in Bakelite (and offered to acquire the remaining shares), Union Carbide's low density polyethylene activities at Grangemouth and the whole of British Xylonite Co into a jointly owned company[12] which would be called Bakelite Xylonite Ltd.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1929 British Industries Fair Advert 225; and p13
  2. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert p558; and p331
  3. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  4. The Times, 30 August 1945
  5. The Times, 30 August 1945
  6. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 230; and p21
  7. The Times, 25 June 1948
  8. The Times, 28 June 1949
  9. The Times, 28 June 1949
  10. The Times, 9 April 1952
  11. The Times, 4 May 1955
  12. The Times, 5 October 1962
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • [2] Amsterdam Bakelite Collection