Wellcome Chemical Works, Dartford

  • Wellcome Chemical Works, Dartford
Part of:
Wellcome Foundation Ltd
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


These records relate primarily to the first half of the 20th century and focus mainly on:
- management of staff and the site, including factory rules
- chemical formulae and processes
- quality control.
There are also some written reminiscences of working at Dartford [WF/CW/28] relating to the early history of the site.



Physical description

45 boxes and 1 volume


All original order had been lost by the time the material was transferred to WT and, in many cases, it is difficult to determine the originating department. Where possible, original series have been identified and reconstructed.

Biographical note

Burroughs Wellcome & Co (BW&Co) originally began manufacturing in London in 1882. In 1884 the factory site at Bell Lane Wharf at Wandsworth was opened. By 1888 this site was too small and another, the former Phoenix Paper Mills in Dartford, was identified. This was originally purchased by SM Burroughs and leased back to the company, only becoming BW&Co property in 1892. Although officially known as Wellcome Chemical Works, the site is often referred to as the Dartford site, or the Works.

From early in its history the site had the
* Tabloid Manufacturing Department, responsible for all Tabloid and Soloid branded products except for Tabloid dressings (inc Compressing, Grinding and Sugar Coating Sections),
* Pharmaceutical Department, responsible for preparation and packing of Kepler, Enule, Dressings, Pastilles, Capsules, Hazeline branded products, Hypoloid and Vaporole.
* Chemical Department (responsible for securing chemicals for the site)
* Analytical Department (from 1897) - set up to provide quality control over raw materials and products after rivals in Germany questioned the quality of BW&Co products.

In 1905 the Experiment Department was formed, thus providing an experimental lab for the site, and in 1904 the Materia Medica farm was set up.

Non-production departments also moved from London to the site: 1903 Leather Working (which produced the medicine cases amongst other work); 1907 the Printing Department (responsible for all packaging used in WCW and Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories, as well as BW&Co Stationery and advertising material).

In the 1950s the factory was reorganised into a divisional structure, including: Chemical Division; Training and Education; Work Study Division (set up as its own division in 1960, a department from 1957); and the Engineering Division.

Over time further non-production departments moved down, including the IT function and in the 1970s the site was renamed the Wellcome Production Centre.

Appraisal note

Routine administrative records of low informational value, such as the Store Records cards were deaccessioned. As a matter of course duplicates and drafts have been weeded.

Ownership note

Please see main WF collection description (ref. 'WF').

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