British Celanese was a chemical plant in Spondon near Derby, UK, specialising in cellulose acetate fabrics, nylon based material and vinyl acetate. The factory closed in 2012.
History of the British Celanese Plant, Spondon
British Celanese was established during World War One, when aircraft technology was in its infancy. The company was established to produce cellulose acetate dope, a substance used to stiffen the fabrics stretched over airframes and make them airtight and watertight.
Negotiations began in 1915 with the Dreyfus family who had previously established similar facilities in Germany, France and Switzerland; construction of the factory in Spondon began in 1916. Main contractors Robert McAlpine and Sons built the factory spread over a large area to minimise damage during an air strike. This method proved to be costly, totalling £3 million to build.
After the war the company began to diversify into different areas and in 1921 began to produce a filament yarn. Celanese materials suited the fashion of the 1920s and 30s and Acetate drape was very popular as an alternative to silk.
The Second World War saw the company move back into war work, focusing on parachute production and underwear. By the end of the war the company employed 20,000 people.
Expansion after the war saw the company further develop chemical products and chemical derivatives. In May 1957 British Celanese was purchased by Courtaulds and production of vinyl acetate for emulsion paints began, along with the production of nylon based materials. Tow production also began, and acetate tow was used for cigarette filters.
World demand for filter tow grew and to meet the demand, a new £50 million plant was opened to produce Cellulose Diacetate Flake in 1998.
In September 1998 Courtaulds plc was acquired by Netherlands based Akzo Nobel. Production was run down and finally ceased in 2012. Clarifoil, a subsidiary of Celanese continues production on site.