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British Industrial History

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J. C. Gamble and Son

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Manufacturing chemists, St. Helens, Lancashire.

1823 James Muspratt pioneered the Leblanc soda-making process in Liverpool in order to supply the expanding soap industry of the area.

1828 Because of the atmospheric pollution created by his factory, Muspratt built a new works using the Leblanc soda process at St Helens. He invited another Irish chemist, Josias Gamble (1775–1848), to join him as junior partner [1].

1830 When Muspratt moved on again, Gamble found other partners (eventually John Crosfield, then in business in Warrington)[2]. The business became Gamble and Crosfields

1840 Gamble also acquired an interest in an alum works at Gerard's Bridge in partnership with Marsden

1843 Josias Gamble's son, David (1823–1907), joined his father in the new works close to the original Muspratt premises, which became J. C. Gamble and Son, and later Jos. C. Gamble and Son, involving all 4 of his sons.

1848 David inherited the Gamble business on his father's death

1865 He grew the company so successfully that, by 1865, its rateable value had caught up with that of the earlier factory, which itself had grown fourfold in the interim.

1866 Walter Weldon carried out experiments on a large scale on recovery of the manganese peroxide formerly lost in the production of chlorine. These experiments were first at the demolished works of the Walker Chemical Co on the Tyne, and later at those of J. C. Gamble and Son at St Helens.

As well as manufacturing Leblanc soda and bleaching powder, Gamble developed markets for by-products as well as potassium chlorate and magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts). Although the chemical industry was concentrated on Widnes, low cost canal transport enabled J. C. Gamble and Son to remain at St Helens, becoming the main chemical manufacturers there. 4 of his sons joined him in the business.

1867 John Doulton, Henry Doulton and John Duneau Dolton purchased land in the township of Windle, Lancs., from David Gamble, manufacturing chemist of St Helen's[3].

1867 Gamble joined in the formation of the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Co to ensure sulphur supplies.

1883 Gamble was involved in creating the Lancashire Bleaching Powder Manufacturers' Association in an attempt to maintain profitability within the industry against the lower cost ammonia-soda process.

1888 Jos C. Gamble and Sons exhibited crystals of chlorate of potash, chlorate of soda and chlorate of baryta at the Glasgow International Exhibition[4].

1891 The competition from the Lancashire Bleaching Powder Manufacturers' Association caused the Leblanc manufacturers to merge their businesses into the United Alkali Co.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Biography of James Muspratt, ODNB [1]
  2. Biography of Sir David Gamble, ODNB [2]
  3. National Archives [3]
  4. Glasgow Herald, 16 July 1888
  • Biography of Walter Weldon, ODNB [4]
  • Biography of Sir David Gamble, ODNB [5].