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British Industrial History

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Society of Chemical Industry

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The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) established in 1881 is a learned society "to further the application of chemistry and related sciences for the public benefit". Its purpose is "Promoting the commercial application of science for the benefit of society" and provides an international forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. Since being founded in 1881, the society covers areas such as, food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science and safety.[1]

1879, 21 November, Lancashire chemist John Hargreaves arranged a meeting of chemists and managers in Widnes, St Helens and Runcorn to consider the formation of a chemical society. Modelled on the successful Tyne Chemical Society already operating in Newcastle, the newly proposed South Lancashire Chemical Society held its first meeting on 29 January 1880 in Liverpool, with the eminent industrial chemist and soda manufacturer Ludwig Mond presiding.

It was quickly decided that the society should not be limited to just the local region and in 1881, 4 April, the title the Society of Chemical Industry was finally settled upon at a meeting in London. Held at the offices of the Chemical Society, this meeting was presided over by Henry Roscoe, appointed first president of SCI, and attended by Eustace Carey, Ludwig Mond, F. A. Abel, Lowthian Bell, William H. Perkin, Walter Weldon, Edward Rider Cook, Thomas Tyrer and George E. Davis; all prominent scientists, industrialists and MPs of the time. [2]

WWI A separate trade association for the chemical industry was established by the Society’s London section, together with the Association of Dyers and Colourists, as the Association of British Chemical Manufacturers, now the Chemical Industries Association.

1918 The first subject group was for chemical engineers, and it was on the initiative of this body that the Institution of Chemical Engineers was formed in 1922.

1923 Chemical Engineering Group (Society of Chemical Industry) removed its offices from 24, Buckingham-street, Strand, London, W. C. 2. to Abbey House (Room 308), Victoria-street, Westminster, SWI.[3]

1932 Another major development was the formation of the Food Group. This later led to the establishment of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, after it was decided a qualification was needed for the field.

1951 A subject group for corrosion technology was established and subsequently, SCI provided accommodation for the associated professional body, now the Institute of Corrosion.

1955 Moved to numbers 14 and 15 – and initially 16 – Belgrave Square.

1980 When the Royal Society of Chemistry was formed by the merger of several societies, the SCI decided to remain independent of it.


Prominent members included:

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