Scottish Dyes Ltd.

Scope and Content

Company minutes for 1918 to 1942, which are complete.

Administrative / Biographical History

Scottish Dyes Ltd. was an innovative dye company, set up by Sir James Morton (1867-1943). Morton was a member of a long-established family of Scottish textile manufacturers, and he had developed a new colour range of dyes for the family firm, known as "Sun dour" dyes. Success in the venture encouraged Morton to establish his own dyeing firm in Carlisle, which manufactured vat dyes (for dyeing textile pieces, rather than yarn).

Morton's firm was soon seen as one of the most innovative in the industry, and it invested heavily in research facilities. It also benefited from restrictions on the import of German vat dyes during and after the First World War. As a result, the firm had a strong position in the domestic market by the early 1920s, having become a fully independent firm, Scottish Dyes Ltd. in 1918. James Morton built a new plant at Grangemouth in 1918, and linked up with US firms, National Aniline and Chemical Company and the Newport Chemical Company (which later became part of Du Pont) to enter the US market.

In the early 1920s, the firm developed a phthalic anhydride plant (for which Morton had paid a huge sum for the rights) to produce the intermediate anthraquinone at a much lower cost than extraction from coal tar derivatives. This investment boosted company profitability in the 1920s, and made it a target for acquisition. BDC unsuccessfully tried to do this, but ICI proved more successful and it took a large shareholding in the firm. Having become part of ICI, the company was formally wound up in 1938. Grangemouth continued to be a major operational site for the Dyestuffs Division for the duration of its existence.