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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/1037
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1798-1950
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 12.45 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Howards and Sons | manufacturers of pharmaceutical chemicals


Administrative/Biographical history:

The firm of Howards and Sons, noted as manufacturers of pharmaceutical chemicals, especially quinine and aspirin had its origin in the partnership entered into by Luke Howard and William Allen in 1798 (ACC/1037/1). Many printed works give the date as 1797 and it may be that the two men began working together after the dissolution of Allen's partnership with Samuel Mildred but before the formal deed of partnership was signed. Allen and Howard had their pharmacy at Plough Court, Lombard Street, City of London, under the management of Allen, and a laboratory at Plaistow, directed by Luke Howard, with the assistance of Joseph Jewell. The laboratory moved from Plaistow to Stratford around 1805, and on the dissolution of the partnership in 1807 (ACC/1037/2) Luke Howard and Joseph Jewell continued their manufacturing activity there. After a series of name changes reflecting the changes of partners (for which see ACC/1037/801/20/1) the style of Howards and Sons was adopted in 1856 (see ACC/1037/17) and used continuously from then on. The firm became a limited company in 1903. It was purchased by Laporte in March 1961.

Stratford remained the company's headquarters until 1898, when land was purchased in Ilford and new premises were gradually constructed. The first transfer there was of the work done at Hopkin and Williams' works in Wandsworth and other processes followed as buildings were erected until the final move to Ilford was made in 1923. The firm of Hopkin and Williams, manufacturers of fine laboratory and photographic chemicals had been purchased in May 1888 (for which see ACC/1037/92). They had offices and warehouses in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, and a manufactory in Wandsworth. In 1906 Howards set up the British Camphor Corporation for the synthesis of camphor from turpentine by Behal's process and the factory was built at Ilford (ACC/1037/743-753). Changes in world prices for raw materials and other factors led to the company going into liquidation in 1909. In the meantime Edmund White, general manager of Hopkin and Williams, had been working on the development of thorium and in 1914 a separate company, Thorium Ltd., was established to process the raw materials (ACC/1037/730-731). In 1915 Hopkin and Williams (Travancore) Ltd. was set up to mine monazite sand at a site in Travancore to secure supplies of the raw material to Thorium Ltd. (ACC/1037/732-735). A later successful development overseas was the purchase of the Sadarehe planatation in Java which was intended to secure supplies of cinchona bark for the production of quinine. Another company, James Anthony and Co. Ltd. (ACC/1037/790) was set up to run it, which it did until the planation was seized by the Japanese in 1943. War-time and post-war conditions made it impossible to revive production. In contrast the purchase of the Agatash plantation in British Guiana to grow limes for citric acid (ACC/1037/739-740) was a short-lived and unsuccessful venture.

The company had a long history of uninterrupted production and its products developed and changed over the years in large measure as the result of experimental work done by members of the Howard family and by their employees. It began by producing fine chemicals, many for the pharmaceutical industry, and by the 1830's Howard and Jewell's work on quinine was beginning to expand. For most of the remainder of the nineteenth century quinine production was the greatest profitable enterprise of the company (for which see ACC/1037/316-364 and especially B.F. Howard's treatise "Howards 1847-1947"). After the First World War it became clear, despite the success of Howards' Aspirin, that the company no longer led the market in chemicals for pharmacy, and a research laboratory was set up in 1919 to explore new fields. This resulted in the development of Howards' solvents and technical chemicals which became the mainstay of the company.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Howards and Sons, manufacturers of pharmaceutical chemicals, 1798-1950, including records relating to the formation of the company; records of partnerships; memoranda and articles of association; notices of resolutions; papers relating to formation of company in 1903 and its reconstruction in 1920; records of shareholders; records of debenture stockholders; Company seal and Board memorandum books.

Papers relating to property owned by the Company, including leases and related papers; insurance records; records of building work and plans of the laboratories and factories at Plaistow, Stratford and Ilford. Financial accounts and bank statements; records relating to staff including wages books and pension papers.

Papers relating to manufacture and trade including papers relating to patents, licences and agreements; records of experiments; records of stock, production and trade, including accounts, correspondence, price lists, advertisements and newscuttings and papers relating to exhibitions. Papers relating to the manufacture of quinine, including patents and agreements; records of production and trade, including records of supply of bark, accounts, technical and business reports, correspondence, price lists and newscuttings.

Records relating to subsidiary companies including Hopkin & Williams Ltd.

Hopkin and Williams Ltd., Thorium Branch; Thorium Ltd.

Hopkin and Williams (Travancore) Ltd.

Hatton Contract Co. Ltd. and Golden Eagle Syndicate; James Anthony and Co. Ltd.

Agatash Estates Ltd.

Barking and Ilford Navigation Co. Ltd.

British Camphor Co. Ltd.

Demerara Development Co. Ltd.

Drogueria de la Estrella Ltda., Buenos Aires; Methylators Ltd. and O. Wallis and Co. Ltd.

Papers relating to the Howard family and associates, including John Williams, Joseph Jewell, R. J. Law. Also photographs and drawings; and a collection of printed technical and historical works relating to the work of the company, including a history of the Company, biographies and local history.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections: Company formation and organisation; Property; Finance; Staff; Manufacture and trade: various products; Manufacture and trade: quinine and related products; Subsidiary and other companies; Family and other papers; Photographs, drawings etc. and Technical and historical works and related papers.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received in 1969.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for biographies of Luke Howard and his son John Eliot Howard.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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