Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Walker Alkali Works

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of 37 Quay Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

1790 Archibald Dundonald joined the brothers John Losh and William Losh in experiments on the production of synthetic soda from salt at Woodside near Carlisle.

1791 William Losh visited Paris to learn what he could about Leblanc's new process for converting salt to soda.

c.1793 The results were sufficiently promising to justify setting up a works at Bells Close, west of Newcastle upon Tyne, where Dundonald had a tar distillery.

1797 The Losh family inherited a share in a coal mine at Walker in which a brine spring had been discovered which provided a private source of salt.

The Walker works was the first in England to work the Leblanc process - the partners were Archibald Dundonald, Lord Dundas, brothers John and William Losh, and bankers John and Aubone Surtees but the original partnership was soon dissolved.

1814 William's brother, John, left his estate to his daughter Sara, including the Walker Alkali Works [1]

1816 After the end of hostilities, Mr. Losh returned to Paris, where he learned the details of the process for decomposing sulphate of soda, which he immediately introduced to his works at Walker, and thus may be said to have been the father of the British alkali industry.

The Walker works were the first in England to work the Leblanc process but the original partnership soon dissolved and the Losh brothers, trading as Walker Alkali Works, were able to develop a profitable chemical business without Dundonald.

For a time, Robert Calvert Clapham was manager in the Walker Alkali Works.

1827 Walker Alkali Works had the same address as Walker Ironworks[2]

1845 on the death of his father, Isaac Lowthian Bell took over the direction of the Walker works

1858 '...the Copartnership carried on for some time past between the undersigned, Thomas Ainsley Cook, William Losh, John Anderson, and Henry Mayhew, as Alkali Manufacturers, at Walker, in the county of Northumberland, trading under the style or firm of the Walker Alkali Company, was this day dissolved by mutual consent, so far as regards the undersigned, Thomas Ainsley Cook. All debts due to and owing by the said copartnership concern will be received and settled by the said William Losh, John Anderson, and Henry Mayhew, the continuing partner...'[3]

1878 '...the Partnership theretofore subsisting between the undersigned, Thomas Bell and Richard Gail, under the firm of the Walker Alkali Company, carrying on business as Chemical Manufacturers, at Walker, in the county of Northumberland, and at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was dissolved, by mutual consent, as on and from the 28th day of July, 1874. All debts due and owing are to be received and paid by the undersigned, Thomas Bell...'[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Biography of Sara Losh, ODNB [1]
  2. History, Directory & Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland, 1827
  3. [2] The London Gazette Publication date:9 July 1858 Issue:22160 Page:3230
  4.] The London Gazette Publication date:19 February 1878 Issue:24553 Page:843