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British Industrial History

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Hazlehurst and Sons

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Hazlehurst and Sons, makers of soap and alkali, of Runcorn.

1816 Thomas Hazlehurst senior (27 February 1779–18 February 1842) established a factory making soap on the north bank of the Bridgewater Canal between the canal and High Street in Runcorn, called Camden Works.

1816 Company established as a manufacturer of resin

Initially the alkali necessary for the production of soap would have been made from natural sources, such as kelp.

By 1830 the alkali was manufactured synthetically by the Leblanc process.

1832 The business was very successful; in 1832 it was in the top 20 of the soap-making businesses in the United Kingdom.

1836 an enormous chimney, at least 300 feet high, was built at the factory to disperse the pollution. See below:-

'The proprietors of the Camden Turpentine and Chemical Works, Runcorn, have set their brother chemists an example which is worthy of imitation, by erecting a chimney to carry off anything which might be considered deleterious. It was finished on Saturday, November 26th. at the works of Hazlehurst and Sons, and combines elegance and strength in a superior manner: it is circular and appears a beautiful object either when viewed near or at a distance. In height it is unrivalled in the kingdom, exceeding a hundred and two yards. It contains more than half a million bricks, and may reckoned to weigh 2,800 tons. There is a neat and ornamental stone at the top, the whole forming one the most stupendous specimens of the kind in modern art. Stockport Advertiser.'[1]

1842 Thomas Hazlehurst senior died; the business was continued by his four sons, William (c. 1801–2 August 1859), John (12 March 1803–29 August 1885), Thomas junior (17 April 1816–14 July 1876) and Charles (27 November 1819–14 December 1878).[2]

1849 William retired from the business

1857 John retired, leaving Thomas junior and Charles to run the business. The day-to-day business was conducted mainly by Charles, while Thomas junior concentrated on his religious interests.

The family was also largely responsible for the growth of Methodism in Runcorn during the 19th century.

1866, their best year, each brother 'took home' a profit of £11,570. Following the deaths of Thomas junior and Charles the business was run by a board of directors.

1880 Company was known as Thomas Hazlehurst and Sons

1891 in common with most of the other factories using the Leblanc process, the firm became part of the United Alkali Co. The firm's soaps continued to win awards at various international exhibitions.

1911 the business was sold to Lever Brothers. Soap and alkali making then ceased and the factory was taken over and used as a tannery (Camden Tannery). The trade name continued to be used by Lever Brothers until the 1930s.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Bolton Chronicle, 3 December 1836
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • The History of Unilever by Charles Wilson. Published 1954 by Cassell and Co