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Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Great Importance of Bow Common

The most important area for locations of industrial chemists who bought ammonia from the 19th century gas industry purchasers is Bow Common. A number of firms in this area have already been noted above. Chemical manufacture on Bow Common seems to have grown up following the opening of the Limehouse Cut in the 1770s - Dundonald's and Birch's activities there have been noted in other chapters. An early chemical manufacturer there was Brown who took over a potash works - perhaps Dundonald's in 1813. James and Thomas Brown are listed on Bow Common as 'ash makers' in 1839. They bought ammonia from the gas companies through the 1820s and 1830s.

A later regular buyer was Bush who had a chemical works on Bow Common. He does not seem to have been the aromatics manufacturer based in Hackney, which became Bush, Boake and Allen. However this Bow Common chemical works existed between at least the 1830s and the 1880s.

Very much later, in 1865, Duncan Campbell of Albion Works, Bow enquired about ammoniacal liquor, from Imperial. He was a manufacturer of oil cake with a works on the east of the Limehouse Cut near the entrance into Regent Canal Dock. Pitchford and Torr also had works on Bow Common at some stage.

One of the most interesting of the ammonia purchasers is Cook who bought liquor from the Chartered in 1827. In the early 1820s John Cook took over an old potash works. He then founded an Oxalic Acid works on Bow Common, calling it the Phoenix. It was on an important location at the point at which the junction of Bow Common Lane and Poplar North Street cross the Limehouse Cut. Cook ran the works into the 1860s. It then passed to Frederick Allen in 1863. He made a range of domestic insecticides and fertilisers and the works closed only in 1984. In the 1990s the buildings have become the Phoenix Business Centre.

Phoenix was not the only Bow Common work to endure. Moore and Pearce bought ammoniacal liquor from South Metropolitan Gas Company in 1839. William Pearce is listed as a sulphuric acid manufacturer from the early 1830s. The works were at 1 Bow Common Lane, opposite the Phoenix Works. They remained on site in production until the 1920s.

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