Oral Histories

Derek Palgrave

Oldbury remained the headquarters of Albright & Wilson for most of the company's existence, eventually becoming known as the Oldbury Division. The Oldbury site was also the location of its central Research Laboratories. Derek Palgrave recalls working there:

“My first job was in the Research Department at Albright & Wilson. I joined Jack Such’s Group, which was researching the use of inorganic phosphates in detergents and toothpastes. We also made some fluorophosphates as there was a developing interest in adding fluorine compounds to toothpaste. This was a great success story as most dentists will now confirm.

We also spent quite a lot of our time exploring the best way to use so-called wet process phosphoric acid and I undertook a lot of experiments to generate fertilizer solutions. I was eventually head-hunted by a fertilizer manufacturer.  I kept in touch with some of my former colleagues including Norman Nicholson who was a keen cricketer and played in the firm’s team.

I managed to find a few photos taken in the Research Dept at A&W. I cannot name everyone. The lady with the helmet is Patricia Hill, the gentleman near the blackboard is Norman Nicolson. The two blokes wearing aprons and goggles are myself and my assistant handling hydrofluoric acid.  The group is the works cricket team – all pictures date from around 1960-64.”

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