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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 B/WHF
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1752-1972
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 8.46 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Whiffen and Son Ltd | manufacturing chemists
St Amand Manufacturing Co Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1854 a London pharmacist, Thomas Whiffen (1819-1904), joined a small firm manufacturing chemicals run by Edward Herring and Jacob Hulle at Trinity Square in the Borough. After the withdrawal of Herring in 1858 and the retirement of Hulle in 1868 the business was continued by Whiffen at his house in Lombard Road, Battersea. Chief products were of medical application, including poisons and alkaloido, mostly prepared from raw material that the firm imported. Whiffen claimed his trade in strychnine to have been the first of its kind in Britain. Overseas trading, including much re-exporting, became an important part of the firm's activity. A short-lived laboratory was set up in 1858 and was re-established by Frank Moul in 1884.

In 1887 Whiffen formed a partnership with two of his sons, Thomas Joseph (1850-1931) and William George (1852-1934). In the same years the firm moved to Southall, where it acquired the Aldersgate Chemical Works, and it also took over the business of George Atkinson (est. 1654). Another concern with which Whiffen was associated was the St Amand Manufacturing Co. Ltd, which had been set up jointly with T and H Smith and JF Macfarlan and Co for the preliminary processing in Belgium of an extract used as a source of salicin.

By the 1890's Whiffen and Sons had become one of Britain's leading fire chemical businesses. It became a limited company in 1912 with a nominal capital of 200,000. In 1947 it was acquired by Fisons Ltd.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Whiffen and Son Ltd, manufacturing chemists, 1752-1972, including history of the company; articles of partnership and other contracts and agreements; legal documents relating to property; correspondence; circulars; financial accounts; papers relating to shares and shareholders; stock records; newspaper cuttings; photographs; staff wages books and pensions papers; records relating to staff associations and sports clubs including minute books; reports on chemical manufacture, laboratory notebooks and chemical analyses; papers relating to sales; papers relating to imports and foreign suppliers; advertisements; registers of product labels; samples of packaging; rules, regulations and legislation regarding factories and safety measures; papers regarding the Second World War including war damage to factories and papers relating to staff on active duty.

Also records of Saint Amand Manufacturing Company Limited including ledgers, letter books and journals.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In 3 sections: Corporate, financial and production records; Supply records; Printed material.

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:

Deposited in several accessions in 1958 and 1979 (AC/58/080; AC/79/020; AC/79/001).

Allied Materials

Related material:

Additional records of Whiffen and Sons Ltd are deposited in the library of the Wellcome Institute.

Publication note:

Rupert S. Law, The end of the chapter : the story of Whiffen & Sons Limited, fire chemical manufacturers (Fisons : 1922)

John Graham Smith (ed.) Archives of the British Chemical Industry, 1750-1914 : a handlist (British soc. For the History of Science : 1988) {library 60.43 MOR}

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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