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1964 Imperial Chemical Industries

 

 

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Stock Code ICI01

 
Company Imperial Chemical Industries, a chemical manufacturing company, formed in 1926.
Description Certificate  for 500 ordinary shares of 5% cumulatiive preference stock. Imprint of company seal.
Issued To Miss Amy Beckett, of 57 Berwick Road, Little Sutton, Wirral, Cheshire.
Issue Date 24th August 1964
Company Officers
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Size 26cm wide x 20 cm high

Framed Certificate Price : £65.00

Certificate Only Price : £25.00

 

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Imperial Chemical Industries PLC was formed in 1926 from the merger of four British chemical companies to challenge the rest of the world’s chemical producers.

The four were alkali company Brunner, Mond; Nobel Industries, a major explosives concern established in 1870 by Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite; United Alkali; and British Dyestuffs. The agreement to create ICI was made during a transatlantic voyage aboard the Aquitania and the company was formally incorporated on 7 December 1926, with 33,000 employees.

The principal products of the new company included chemicals, explosives and accessories, fertilisers, insecticides, dyestuffs, non-ferrous metals and paints. In its first year of business, 1927, ICI sold £27 million worth of products and made a pre-tax profit of £4.5 million.

The company’s labour relations policies, with recognised works councils, an employee shareholding scheme and profit sharing, were advanced for their time. ICI’s roundel, familiar today, was based on that of Nobel Industries.

In 1928 ICI moved into its newly built head office at 9 Millbank, London, not far from the Houses of Parliament and on the site of an ancient trade route which carried pre-Roman traffic to and from Europe across the River Thames at its lowest fordable point.

ICI entered the 1930s dealing with the consequences of the 1929 global financial crash. Profits had fallen and by 1932 it had lost 10 per cent of its capital employed. ICI’s founding commitment to research – and some luck – would prove its salvation.

The word ‘plastics’ was coined by ICI in 1927, but it was a 1933 laboratory accident that led its scientists to discover a new polymer that was a landmark in its development – they created polythene, the first plastic, now used in products ranging from food wrapping and film to moulded plastic items and squeezable bottles.

ICI gained more immediate commercial success in the 1930s with another plastic, ‘Perspex’ acrylic sheet. It was first used in windscreens for cars and aircraft, but today has applications from neon signs and furniture to intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery.

Work by a small team in medicinal chemistry research in the dyestuffs organisation in the mid-1930s was to lead to drugs primarily to control bacterial or parasitic infection. This was the start of ICI’s pharmaceutical activities that would see the development of some of the most important medical treatments of the 20th century.

The 1939-45 war had a major impact on company’s operations, and production efforts were diverted and the focus for R&D was almost entirely on the war. Materials developed during this period were quickly adapted for post-war use, including ‘Perspex’ acrylic sheet and medicines, as well as pesticides and weedkillers.

Despite raw material supply problems that continued until 1947, ICI continued to develop other products we still use today, such as polyester fibre. Initial discoveries led to ‘Terylene’, the first polyester fibre. The general demand for polythene – used in the development of radar – was such that by the end of the decade, despite increased production, ICI could not meet demand.

The first really effective synthetic treatment against malaria – ‘Paludrine’ – was developed by ICI scientists in research that was hastened by anticipated wartime needs in the Mediterranean and Asia Pacific, when supplies of the natural quinine treatment for malaria were expected to be cut off to Britain. ‘Paludrine’ was to prove the most effective anti-malarial available for more than four decades.

A major ICI product in the 1950s was diphenylmethane di-isocyanate (MDI), a key ingredient in the manufacture of polyurethane foam that was safer and more efficient than existing materials. MDI was quickly adopted for use as insulation in domestic refrigerators and freezers, and by the late 1950s, in cold stores and refrigerated transport. Applications then expanded into building insulation and soft furniture, including automobile seats and shoe soles.

‘Fluothane’ was introduced in 1953 as a replacement for chloroform and ether, and was to become the most commonly used anaesthetic in the western world .

The 1950s – and the early part of the 1960s – saw continued pioneering developments by ICI in polyamide (nylon) and polyester fibres. Products included ‘Procion’ reactive dyes, a breakthrough that complemented the development of polyester fibres in clothing.

From the end of the 1939-45 war until the late 1950s, ICI was faced with an urgent need to build new plants to meet demands for products from customers in the UK and around the world. The period was marked by heavy capital expenditure on new plants and on increasing capacity at existing facilities.

ICI’s pharmaceuticals research continued to develop effective drugs for the treatment of common health problems. ICI scientists in the early 1960s, notably Nobel-prize winner Sir James Black, pioneered the development of beta-blockers, which were effective medical treatments for heart problems, including angina (heart-related chest pain) and high blood pressure.

The Old English sheepdog appeared in  ‘Dulux’ advertising for the first time in 1963, as ICI Paints began appealing to the new DIY market. ‘Dulux Brilliant White’, a breakthrough in home decorating, was a success from its launch in the mid-1960s. 

The ICI paraquat pesticide ‘Gramoxone’ was launched in 1962. Pesticides today are considered risky, but at the time ‘Gramoxone’ was a breakthrough – quickly effective and then quickly inactive, it left little residue, was harmless to wildlife, inactive in soil, and helped prevent soil erosion by not affecting soil-retaining grass or weeds surrounding the treated crop.

The 1960s saw the development of a new family of plastics that ICI would lead with the introduction of PES (polyethersulphone), a tough engineering plastic, and then PEEK (polyether ether ketone) for the electronics industry.

The acquisition of Atlas Chemical Industries in 1971 was significant in that it gave ICI a base for expansion into the US. The UK-based company had ventured into continental Europe during the previous decade and now it was seeking to extend its operations.

Other highlights the decade included the launch of ‘Aquabase’ decorative paints, for which ICI Paints re-formulated its coatings base from solvents to water as part of a growing commitment to environmental protection.

In treatments for heart disease, ‘Tenormin’ was launched in 1976 and would become the best-selling beta-blocker in almost every market around the world. Together with ‘Inderal’, launched in the 1960s, ICI’s dominance in this therapeutic category was strong – the two treatments became the most subscribed beta-blockers in the world.

In the UK, the 1970s saw a major oil find in the North Sea by a consortium of which ICI was a member; the sale of ICI’s holding in Imperial Metal Industries; and the start-up of an olefins plant at Wilton, jointly owned with BP Chemicals.

The launch of ‘Pruteen’ single-cell protein in the 1970s, although not a commercial success, led to the development of other ICI technologies such as fermentation technology and biotechnology in general.

ICI’s innovation in pharmaceuticals continued with the launch of ‘Diprivan’, an intravenous anaesthetic that allowed the level of sedation to be precisely controlled. It had the benefits for patients and anaesthetists of speed and quality of recovery following surgery. The prostate cancer treatment ‘Zoladex’, an injectable, was also launched in this period.

In 1984, while the chemical cycle was ‘up’, ICI was the first UK company to achieve £1 billion in annual pre-tax profits. The £1 billion mark was achieved several times during the decade, with more than £1.5 billion reached in 1989.

ICI became the first company in the world to market solid emulsion paint for application by roller by the domestic consumer. With the purchase of Glidden of the US in 1986, ICI became one of the largest paints companies in the world.

Expansion into the USA continued with the acquisition in 1985 of the chemicals interest of Beatrice and of Garst Seed, a major corn seed company. In 1987, Stauffer Chemicals of the US was acquired to further strengthen the agrochemicals business, and the Board of Directors met in New York, the first time it had met outside the UK.

A new and challenging list of environmental objectives was announced, the first of its series of five-year series of Challenge improvement objectives, which continue today with Challenge 2010. Another first, in 1991, was the appointment of the first woman to the ICI Board. Even more significant events, however, were to come.

First was the demerger in 1993 of the Pharmaceuticals and Agrochemicals businesses to form Zeneca (today AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceuticals company; the agrochemicals business joined Novartis to form Switzerland-based Syngenta).

Then, in 1997, ICI continued its momentous portfolio shift with the acquisition of the Speciality Chemicals businesses of Unilever and the divestment of its bulk and intermediate chemicals businesses. These divestments were to total more than 50 separate deals over a period of just five years.

By becoming a leading specialty chemicals and paints producer, ICI’s strategy was to move away from cyclical bulk chemicals and up the value chain to be a higher growth, higher margin business.

 

 

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