I am afraid the foregoing is somewhat sketchy but the history of the fertiliser industry is fairly clear. It commenced with the discovery of superphosphate which was then and still is the cheapest form of water-soluble phosphoric acid, starting with Lawes factory at Deptford in 1842, which was moved to the present site at Barking in 1857.
Edward Packard established a sulphuric acid and superphosphate works at Bramford in 1854. A number of works sprang up all over the country and continued to prosper until the end of the 19th century when foreign competition became acute. By turning their attention to compound fertilisers most of the companies managed to survive until the 1914/18 war when foreign imports ceased, and the industry was put under the control of the Ministry of Munitions. The industry worked very successfully under this control and emerged in a more healthy condition. After the war foreign competition began again and the Government of the day abandoned agriculture in favour of free imports of food, with the result that by 1927 the industry had sunk again to a very low ebb. By the imposition of a duty on superphosphate, and subsequently on compound fertilisers, a slow recovery began, and when war broke out in 1939, the trade was able to respond to the need for fertilisers. The control then set up under the Ministry of Supply, with Mr. Howard Cunningham of Scottish Agricultural Industries as Fertiliser Controller, has been spoken of as one of the most successful war-time controls and the industry may be proud of its record from 1939 to the present day.
This history would not be complete without some reference to the spirit of co-operation which has existed so long between the manufacturers constituting the industry, even when competition almost reached cut-throat level.
The Chemical Manure Manufacturers Association, consisting of almost all the superphosphate manufacturers, was formed in 1875, was renamed the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association in 1904, and was incorporated as the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association Ltd. in 1919. In 1940 the Articles were altered in order to admit manufacturers of compound fertilisers who were not makers of superphosphate to associate membership, and after the war they were admitted to full membership. At the same time the Super-phosphate Manufacturers Association was formed to deal with matters connected with the superphosphate trade.
During all those years since 1875 a body of men elected by the industry has met at regular intervals to discuss important matters connected with their trade, and it is to those men, past and present, that the industry largely owes its present position. Had it not been for the F.M.A. the pleasant relations which have existed between fertiliser manufacturers and Government departments, both in war and peace, would have been impossible.
In conclusion I must thank all my friends in the industry who have dug out for me their past records, and particularly Mr. E. P. Hudson and Mr. Norman Nicholson of Scottish Agricultural Industries, Colonel Norrington, Mr. P. K. Proctor, Mr. John Corbett and Mr. John T. Procter of York.
My thanks are also due to Sir William Ogg for allowing me to spend some time in the Rothamsted Library among the records of Lawes, and to Mr. A. Ogilvie of The Sturtevant Engineering Company for the loan of lantern slides. I must also thank Miss M. Tratt of Fisons Limited for her work in deciphering my manuscript and Mrs. Laverton, the Librarian of Fisons Limited, for her researches on my behalf.
W G T Packard. 29 pages.