Sunday, 16 July 2017

Something's Smelling in The Felling

A Felling circular of 1838 called upon farmers to meet at the Mulberry Inn to discuss steps to protect their property from the injurious effects of the chemical fumes from the neighbouring works.

So, where were the chemical works?

Hugh Lee Pattinson and his partners had set up their chemical plant at the bottom of Bath Lane in Low Felling 4 years earlier in 1834. (It wasn't called Bath Lane at the was called that much later in recognition that Hugh Lee had provided baths at the factory not just for the workers but for their families as well)

It is unknown whether any canny farmers turned up for the Mulberry Inn meeting. Given that cows chew the cud for the whole of their waking hours, the farmers probably considered cow gas masks to be an impractical solution

In 1827, a decade earlier, Friar's Goose Chemical Works had been established by Anthony Clapham, who had been harassed out of a number of works in the North-East after complaints of pollution caused by his factories. Technically, Friars Goose is outside of The Felling's boundary but noxious fumes tend not to respect borders.

"Soap making was conducted at the site until 1829 and by 1831 the works had been altered to become a caustic works operating the Leblanc process, mainly producing bicarbonate of soda and Epsom Salts. In an overblown gesture to alleviate pollution, Clapham built a chimney in 1833 that was 263 feet high and the highest on Tyneside at the time. 

Holzapfels didn't get to The Felling until 1904 but they've been here ever since. They always were also known as International Paints and their Felling premises for the past 60 years or so have said so..

Holzapfels is a difficult spelling for the folk of Felling..fortunately the current owners have the much easier name of AkzoNobel.

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