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Cork Independent


Technical memories part 75 outputs and targets

Wednesday, 12th March, 2014 6:15pm


The day before Verolme Dockyard was officially opened on 15 October 1960, the two and half million pounds factory of Messrs. Goulding Fertilisers Ltd at the Marina, Cork, was opened. Again Seán Lemass did the honours in the presence of a large and distinguished audience. In his speech, recorded in the Cork Examiner, he highlighted Ireland's work in seeking out new export markets; “In the struggle for export markets everything, which makes for great output at lower costs, is vital and all the available evidence supports the view that greater use of fertilisers and lime is essential for the realisation of high production targets”.

The new factory was another milestone in Cork's ever-widening industrial progress. It completed the final stages of an ambitious project conceived by the company some years previously for the creation in the Southern region of a modern fertiliser plant. The first stage for the compounding of fertilisers in powder and granular form was completed in 1958. The opening of the factory in 1960 marked the second and final stage, and its purpose was to produce single superphosphate in largely increased quantities and also for the first time in the country, triple superphosphates together with the large amounts of sulphuric acid required for both projects. The Marina plant was planned with an eye to the future, for it had been so designed that large-scale additions could be made conveniently in spaces reserved for them whenever the need arose.

When the Taoiseach arrived at the new factory, he was met by Sir Basil Goulding, who presented him with a symbolic key and invited him to unlock the gates and declare the factory opened. The Goulding family had deep commercial roots in Cork and this is outlined in the special supplement in the Cork Examiner. William Goulding was born in 1817, the first son of Joshua Goulding, of Birr in King's County, and Sarah, née Manders, of Blackpool, in Cork. Three years later, a second son, Humphrey Manders Goulding, was born. When Joshua Goulding died in 1829, it is thought that the family moved to Cork. Certainly by 1842 William Goulding was living in the city and carrying on the business of an oil and colour merchant at 22 Maylor Street. In the following year, this business was transferred to 108 Patrick's Street, premises which were occupied by the firm for many years and now the site of the site of the Savoy Cinema. The title W and H M Goulding came into being in 1846 when Humphreys Manders Goulding joined his elder brother in the business at the age of 26.

An early interest in agricultural materials was shown by the sale of Goulding's Anti-smut Composition for seed wheat, which appeared on the market in 1844. The firm became agents for patent sheep and cattle dressings in 1854, and in the same year sold fertilisers produced by the British Economical Manure Company. The year also marked the beginning of Goulding's interest in superphosphate manufacture. A small tonnage of superphostate was thus produced in their premises available at St Patrick Street and Nelson Place (now Emmett Place) and would have been inadequate and unsuitable for large scale manufacture. The results of these pilot-plant experiments must, however have been sufficiently encouraging to warrant bigger operations, for the Goulding Brothers procured additional premises for superphostate production in the following year, 1856. During 1855 and 1856, the premises of the Glen Distillery at Blackpool, in Cork, came on the market. This property comprised mills, kilns, stores, chimneys, spacious yards and various items of machinery and plant, and it was this property which, the Goulding brothers obtained for their manure works.

Superphostate manufacture at this time involved treating ground bones with sulphuric acid, the reaction being carried out in wooden tubs, cast-iron horse troughs, or even on the bare ground. The resulting material was removed to stores and allowed to dry out. All operations were by hand, and output was necessarily small. For example the total sales for the season 1860/ 61 season were no more than the 1960 production of superphosphate from one works for one week.

While bones were available locally, sulphuric acid had to be imported during the early years. The purchase of acid from outside sources was a serious drawback to the early development of the business. To remedy the situation, an acid plant, was built in 1860 and had been extended to five chambers by 1868. The sulphuric acid was produced from sulphur initially, but pyrites were also used at an early stage, and certainly not later than 1864. The pyrites could be purchased for £1/5 per ton and was readily available from the Avoca mines in Co Wicklow, while sulphur cost £7 per ton. In 1861, following the introduction of the acid plant, five special manures were offered in addition to superphostate. During the period 1861 to 1888 delivery of manures from Cork rose from 857 tons to 7,139 tons, and the demand was so great that it was considered to open a new factory. Dublin was selected as the location for this new works as it had good port facilities and was well placed for the delivery of manures.

To be continued...




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