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Saturday, 8 August 2009

Women Chemical Manufacturers in 19th east London

Three contractors were women, two with works on Bow Common in the 1840s. One of these was Mrs. Miles, who bought liquor from Imperial in 1843. She made sal ammoniac and complained bitterly when the price dropped - causing her to ask Imperial to reduce their prices too. Mrs. Hunt made sulphate of ammonia, also on Bow Common and also bought liquor from Imperial in 1844. She too complained about their prices and gave considerable detail about her difficulties and the investment she had made in manufacturing equipment. Very little more is known about either of these women - Mrs. Hunt seems to have no connection with the animal waste company of Hunt based at Bow Bridge.

Rather more is known about Charlotte Foot who from 1839 managed the chemical and dye manufacturing company of Foot, Brown and Co. based in Bolingbroke Gardens, Battersea. She bought as much ammoniacal liquor 'as required' from Imperial in the 1830s. It was at Foot's works that experiments were undertaken in the 1850s to determine the validity of a number of purification patents that used ammonia salts.

The image of middle class Victorian women is not usually understood to include chemical manufacture. To them should be added Mrs. Eastwood who in this period personally managed the largest barge haulier and brickmaker on the Thames and whose business representatives in attendance at gas company offices and meetings were all women.

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