History

Over four generations Thomas Swan has established a proud tradition of innovation. The company was founded in 1926 by ‘Tommy’ Swan and to this day we maintain the flexibility of an independent, family-run business despite our growing presence in the UK and international chemicals markets.

1901

‘Tar Macadam’ discovered by E.P. Hooley county surveyor of Nottingham. A barrel of tar had burst over a road lightly covered with slag from local blast furnaces, and formed a dust free, hard-wearing surface – tar macadam.

1920

Tommy Swan portrait

Tommy Swan sets up mixing plants at from the Crookhall Works in Consett, County Durham to utilise cheap and readily available blast furnace slag to produce tar macadam.

1926

Thomas Swan & Co Ltd founded at Crookhall.

1931

Office block opened as operations expand with large-scale contracts throughout the UK and abroad.

1945

Bitumen, rather than tar, macadam becomes increasingly prevalent after World War 2, but has inherent problems as it is not as adhesive.

1947

Robert Douglas Swan, Tommy’s son, marries the daughter of an American associated with the development of Nostrip, a wetting agent which solves the adhesion problem. Thomas Swan acquire the licence to produce their own version, Wetfix – for their own macadam, other manufacturers and bitumen suppliers like Shell Oil UK.

1950s

More advanced wetting agents are developed, leading to the introduction of Swancote, a range of specialised industrial paints. Dialkyl amino amines introduced.

1958

Macadam manufacture ceases, as other products become more important.

1960s

The Wetfix chemistry leads to the development of synthetic waxes, curing agents for epoxy resins and Slurry Seal – a specialist sealing material for aircraft runways and other surfaces. Alkyl imidazolines and Casamids introduced.

1962

Robert Douglas Swan takes control of the family business. ‘Tommy’ retires in 1966.

1968

Tom Swan, grandson of the founder, joins from Dow Chemicals. The company emerges as a chemical company focusing on performance chemicals, fine chemicals, contract manufacture and technology licensing.

1970s

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a range of unique water dispersible epoxy curing agents with world wide applications are developed. This technology was sold to Air Products (USA). Polyurethanes, Tri-butyl tin fluoride, Casathenes, Casabets, Casaquets and Casaterics introduced.

1976

Tom Swan takes control of the business. He has been largely responsible for its modernisation and diversification into new and innovative technologies. Toll manufacturing is introduced.

1980s

Powder compositions begin to evolve as the new ‘green’ technology for coating metal, reducing the use of wasteful and harmful solvents. Thomas Swan enter this market in the early 80’s. Since then, products such as Casamids 1416, 1457, OTB and 2228 have been introduced.

1984

Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment founded. In conjunction with a UK university, the company start to manufacture a range of organo metallics for use in semi conductor research equipment. PCMX production also starts.

1985

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty refurbishment uses Thomas Swan epoxy curing agent Casamid 360.

Fungicides introduced.

1986

The growing importance of semi conductor research equipment leads to the creation of a new division, Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment, while production of the chemicals themselves cease.

1990s

Semi conductor research equipment products like Epitor, Epifold and Epison become world leaders as innovative semi conductors are used in many areas of electronics. Ink Resins, Casabond rubber adhesion and Pepton rubber peptising agents introduced.

1999

Thomas Swan acquires dye specialist Organic Specialities Ltd. and Fort James Speciality Chemicals. Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment sold.

2000

Thomas Swan becomes the first company in the world to gain external verification of its Responsible Care Management system and launches the world’s first continuous-phase Supercritical Fluid Plant.

2001

Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd’s 75th Anniversary. New offices opened, and named a ‘Top 20 World innovator’ by leading American Chemical publication.

2002

Chemical Industries Association Responsible Care Award Winner.

2003

Chemical Industries Association UK Green Chemical Technology Awards Winner.

2004

Carbon Nanomaterials Business launched, with a plant at Consett designed with the University of Cambridge. The company become the first in the UK to manufacture commercial quantities of single-wall carbon nanotubes for use in a wide range of academic and industrial applications. Colours Division launched.

2006

Harry Swan, great grandson of Tommy Swan, becomes Managing Director. Tom Swan remains Executive Chairman. Thomas Swan acquires Rhodia’s Tolcide business and starts to sell TCMTB Leather Biocides under the Casacide brand.

2007

BioDynamics Research Ltd. is sold to Quotient BioResearch Group Ltd.

2010

New Rotary Carbon Nanotube furnace announced to scale up production of single wall carbon nanotubes to 50kg per month capacity.

2011

Thomas Swan invests seed funding in Cella Energy Ltd. a hydrogen storage company spun out of the Science and Technologies Facilities Council at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

2012

Graphene development programme announced with £625K four year collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Keystone Project completed. £2M investment in flexible glass lined capacity commissioned at Consett site to support the growth of the Custom Manufacturing Division and general capacity upgrade for the Chemicals Business.

New brand, marketing suite and website launched to give greater exposure of the three divisions - Performance Chemicals, Custom Manufacture and Advanced Materials - and a commitment to customer service excellence and outstanding quality. The new Swan logo unveiled.

Thomas Swan continue to go from strength-to-strength, as we build upon our position as a major supplier to the global chemicals market through excellence in service and product quality - and a commitment to innovation.