Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robinson Brothers

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April 1928. Velvas.

Note: Robinson Brothers existed as two different companies at different times but belonged to the same family. Its first existence was as a wrought iron tube manufacturer and then later one of the partners of that company formed a new one with his sons to produce gas and chemicals.

1828 Listed as Robinson Brothers of West Bromwich as 'Iron Masters and Manufacturers' [1]

1829 Bankruptcy. James Wickenden Robinson and Henry Martin Robinson, Walbrook Buildings, London and West Bromwich, Stafford, wrought iron tube manufacturers.'[2] [3]

1862 James Wickenden Robinson with his sons William Leckie Robinson and James Henry Robinson entered a lease for the supply of gas in Leamington.[4]

1864 Owners of the Leamington Priors Gas-Light and Coke Co. ' legalize and confirm a certain lease of the 18th of November, 1862, of the undertaking of the Company, or part thereof, already granted by or on behalf of the Company, in favour of Messrs. James Wickenden Robinson, William Leckie Robinson, and James Henry Robinson...'[5]

1869 William Leckie Robinson with his brothers James Henry Robinson and Charles Robinson Robinson formed the company Robinson Brothers at Ryder's Green, West Bromwich, as a tar and ammonia distilling business. W. T. Bushell was manager.

1894 Became a limited company

1909 Opened an Insecticide Department later known as the Horticultural Department

1909 New Road Coating (‘TARVIA’)

1922 Formation of Research Department.

1927 - April. "The method worked out in the research laboratories, and described by Mr D. W. Parkes to the Birmingham Section of the Society of Chemical Industry recently, for the removal of phenolic products from the effluent liquors from the distillation of gasworks ammonia seems, states the Chemical Trade Journal, highly promising. It is noteworthy that this is an occasion when English chemical engineers have apparently succeeded where continental investigators have not met with great success."[6]

1929 Electrolytic reduction of pyridine to piperidine for ultra rubber accelerators.

1938 Carbon Disulphide (CS2) Handling Facilities for Dithiocarbamate and Thiuram production.

1939 Polymer Additives Laboratory and Technical Service Department established.

ROBAC Trade Mark Registered for Rubber Chemicals.

1946 World Beater cure system for vehicle weather-strip developed. Thioglycollic Acid for hair waves and Depilatories – RBL still key supplier of raw materials to cosmetic industry (e.g. Methyl Thioglycollate)

1947 Aliphatic Esters for lube oils and plasticisers

1950 High Pressure hydrogenation using nickel catalyst.

1968 Development of process to produce Cysteamine for antiulcer drug Tagamet ™

1984 Friedel Craft reactions using AlCl3

1990 BS 5750 Quality Management

1993 Commercial use of pure oxygen (O2) as a reactant

1994 Bulk handling of Bromine

1998 ISO 9001

Chairmen of Robinson Brothers

Number of Employees

  • 1930 - 28
  • 1945 - 92
  • 1955 - 207
  • 1960 - 250
  • 1965 - 306
  • 1969 - 364

The company has a web site

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1828-29 Pigot's Directory: West Bromwich
  2. Newcastle Courant - Saturday 23 May 1829
  3. Birmingham Gazette - Monday 14 September 1829
  4. Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 14 July 1888
  5. Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 26 November 1864
  6. The Engineer 1927/04/08
  • The Chemistry of Progress - Robinson Brothers. 1969