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Technical memories part 76 gouldings heritage

Wednesday, 19th March, 2014 6:37pm

Picking up from last week's column, in 1872 a change took place when the Goulding business became a limited company with a capital of £150,000. The first Board of Directors was composed of William Goulding, Chairman, H M Goulding, B Haughton, N D Murphy MP, and J S Smithson. The prospectus of the new company referred to 500 duly appointed agents in the United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Russia and America. It was reported that Gouldings were the first firm to ship a cargo of manures into the United States, and in addition to the countries referred to above, an extensive export trade was carried on with Norway and Natal in South Africa. A special manure was supplied to the latter for the sugar cane crop. The year 1872 was also noteworthy in that a further factory was opened at Singland in Limerick, where a 20-year lease was taken on the premises.

In the manufacture of superphostate, the use of mineral phosphates steadily replaced bones. At what date Gouldings first used the mineral phosphate is unknown, but in 1873, the company purchased phosphate beds in France. These deposits, belonging to a group known as Quercy phosphates, were situated near Cahora in the French Department of Lot. The material varied widely in quality and was difficult to mine. The Goulding Phosphate Company Ltd was formed to operate the mines. In 1876 this company leased a mill at Mercuès in the vicinity of the phosphate deposits and a works was in operation at Laberaudie in the same district. Operations were continued until 1880 when Gouldings ceded their rights to a French firm.

In 1874, a cargo of rock phosphate was imported from Pernambuco in Brazil, and in subsequent years this raw material was obtained from a variety of sources. In addition to the French phostate referred to, there was Estramadure phosphate from Spain, Sombrero phosphate from the West Indies, phosphates from Norway, Canada, Belgium and Russia. American phosphate from South Carolina was in use and in later years, particularly when a Florida factory was opened, the American material was used extensively.

Another new works was started in 1878 at Gracedieu, Waterford and in 1884, new works were commenced on Bressay one of the islands in the Shetland group. In the same year 1884, William Goulding died at the age of 67, having spent half a lifetime in the fertiliser business. From small beginnings, he rapidly built up and expanded the company until at the time of his death it consisted of five factories and was one of the largest concerns within Britain and Ireland. Seven years previous to this, Humphrey Manders had died at the age of 57. Following William Goulding's death, his son, William Joshua Goulding, was appointed Chairman of the Company.

In 1902, sales of manures by the Goulding group had reached 119,337 tons and the building of a new factory at Newrath, Waterford was commenced. This now gave the company six factories in Ireland, situated at Londonderry and Belfast in the north, two at Dublin in the east, and at Waterford and Cork in the south, this making distribution to any part of the country an easy matter. Phosphates from North Africa began to replace material from other sources and eventually North Africa became the sole supply. During the next twenty years, output from these factories was gradually increased by improved processes and extensions to the factories. In 1919 a controlling interest was purchased in two further companies, namely the Drogheda Chemical Manure Company Ltd. and the Dublin and Wicklow Manure Company.

From 1920 to the commencement of World War II, production of fertilisers showed a steady increase from the factories in operation and the total deliveries rose to 178,000 tons. The company also went through two chairmanships, Sir William Joshua Goulding and his son Sir Lingard Amphlett Goulding. On Lingard's death in 1935, Sir Basil Goulding took over as Chairman.

The World War II years coincided with a serious reduction in trade brought about by difficulties of obtaining shipping for imports of raw materials, but after the end of the of the war, production rose to surpass the pre-war level in a most spectacular manner. The post-war years were a time of immense activity, many items of plant were in a state of disrepair and other items were becoming obsolete. As a result all the factories witnessed extensive replacement of old equipment with modern machinery and methods of manufacture.

By 1956, due to the increasing demands on the Glen Factory, the first steps were taken towards the construction of a new factory on a 17-acre compound on the deep water site at the Marina, Cork on which the company had had an option for some years. The Irish Times for 29 March 1958 records that work began on the preparation of the Cork site at the Marina and the piling in October, 1955. There were 303 piles driven and the contractors started work in February, 1956. In all, 16,500 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction of the factory, 291 tons of reinforced steel and 700 tons of steelwork.

To be continued...

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