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Fisons Ammonium Nitrate Factory

January 2011


The Fison company name originates from the early nineteenth centaury, the company was established by James Fison & sons as a producer of animal feeds and bonemeal fertiliser. The company grew quickly and by the 1840's had annual sales of over £100,000. The company further expanded with the establisment of manuer works and a chemical fertiliser plant.

During the first world war the company produced war matirels for use in the creation of munitions. After the first world war there was a big fall in demand for fertilisers and prices dropped. In 1919 the company was bought by rival firm Packards an Ipswich based chemical fertiliser company. By the 1930's the new merged company was expanding rapidly acquiring 32 rival producers. The onset of the second world war saw a huge boost demand for home produced fertiliser. By the end of the war two thirds of all the UK's fertiliser was being made by Fisons.

After the war the company expanded with new plants, They opened this new Ammonium Nitrate factory in 1959. It produced chemical fertiliser from pure ammonium which was supplied by pipeline from the neighboring Shell oil refinery. In the production process pure Ammonia is blended with oil, this is then exposed to a catalyst which creates a reaction between the Ammonia and nitrogen in the air. The resultant gas is absorbed in water to form nitric acid. Further ammonia is added to neutralise the acid, making a hot solution of Ammonia Nitrate in water. This was then sent to other Fisions plants by road and rail for further processing.

The following pictures are mostly from the cooling plant which cooled the water used in the process. The remainder of the works is being used to store demolition equipment. The remains of Fisons are some of the grimmest industrial buildings I've visited, on a cold day in January the landscape of post industrial Essex feels like barren wasteland devoid of life...





Pump House,




Cooling pond,



Pump Room,








| Cooling towers |


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