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British Industrial History

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Andreas Kurtz

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Andreas Kurtz (c.1782-1846), chemist

c.1782 Born in Reutlingen, Germany

c.1795 About the age of 13 he left home when the warring French and Austrian armies entered the area. He went to Paris where he worked in chemicals and studied science.

1815 Having invented a means of manufacturing gunpowder, he moved to England and then to America, trying to exploit his invention

1816 returned to England. Leased a small chemical works on the banks of the Thames of the late Mr Sandemann. Kurtz married Mrs Sandemann. Worked on recipes for making soap.

c.1820 Moved to Manchester, working on the production of dyes.

Took Richard Niven into partnership, who was more business-like.

By 1828 they had made a profit

Niven left

1830 Moved to Liverpool, producing bichromate of potash in Parliament St, and Sefton St, and borax in Harrington St.

c.1835 Kurtz produced a highly fashionable chrome yellow.

Produced borax in conjunction with Messrs Wood and Co of Burslem, and many other chemicals.

1842 Against his wishes, he had to take over Darcy and Dierden's alkali works at St Helens (later known as the Sutton Alkali Works), having loaned them money; Darcy tried to pretend that Kurtz had been a partner which Kurtz had to challenge in court.

Identified that pyrites would be preferable to sulphur for the Leblanc process and opened a mine near Portmadoc but others found better supplies in Ireland, causing Kurtz a loss.

1846 Josias Gamble challenged Kurtz (and others) infringement of his patent on the salt cake furnace; some of Gamble's claims were rejected. But during the trial Kurtz died. His son, Andrew George Kurtz (1824-1890), who was studying law at the time, had to replace him in the business.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Some founders of the chemical industry, J Fenwick Allen [1]
  • National Archives