Report - - British Celanese, Spondon, Feb 2015 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - British Celanese, Spondon, Feb 2015


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I was asked by Acid-Reflux to explore this place last year but never did and regretted it when I saw the shots from the place, so when the chance came again to explore it I had to get there as soon as before too much was demolished

When I got there I couldnt believe how big the whole site was, no way was we going to explore the whole thing in a day, just get what we could and come back another time. When we started walking through different levels, up and down ladders and a maze of doors I can honestly say the place confused the frig out of me, good thing Acid-Reflux knew where he was going

After spending hours there taking shots of the place and accidentally opening a door to the live part of the site, which was quickly closed and walked away from in haste haha, we tried to see that bit that demo had started on already but couldnt see it from where we was

After we left the site we went down the road near the railway lines to see what demo had been done and was surprised how much had gone already, such a shame

So, fast forward 5 weeks and we decided to hit the place up again. Went to go in and theres a new fence all the way around the place as well as some cctv cameras and a lot of "keep out" signage knocking about the place. Couldnt find a way in, well as easy as it was before anyway lol so we left and maybe come back for a 3rd visit in the future if its still there


When World War 1 started, aircraft technology was in its infancy. A product called dope was used to tighten and stiffen the fabric stretched over airframes and render them airtight and weatherproof. An essential component of dope was cellulose acetate. Only three factories produced this product, these were based in Germany, France and the Dreyfus factory in Switzerland.

In September 1914 the first contact was made with the Dreyfus factory. Negotiations commenced in June 1915 with Camille and Henri Dreyfus and a company was registered in 1916. On the 19th September 1916, Derby Corporation Development Committee granted an honorarium in recognition of special services in connection with bringing the British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company to Spondon. Erection of the factory commenced in August 1916, with the main contractor being Robert McAlpine and Sons. In January 1917 problems were reported concerning delays in building the works and no cellulose acetate was produced until April.

The factory was spread over a large area in order to avoid total destruction in the event of an air raid. This was expensive, according to the 1920 Balance Sheet, the Spondon Works had a value of over £3million. It was dedicated to producing products relating to the war effort. When the government contracts ended, it was in considerable financial difficulties and almost closed.

Henri Dreyfus remained in Britain and his brother Camille moved to found “The American Cellulose & Chemical Manufacturing Company” (known as “Amcelle” for short), in New York in 1918.

The Company continued to develop into different areas and in 1921 the first celanese filament yarn was produced. In 1923 the name was changed to British Celanese. The move into fabric and dyes continued. The 1930s was a period of expansion; the 20s & 30s fashions suited celanese materials. Acetate drape was in competition with silk and used widely in haute couture.

The Company moved into war work again, including parachutes and underwear for the Wrens. The site was also used as an Army Storage Depot. In December 1944 Henry (Henri) Dreyfus died. The site employed over 20,000 people by the end of the war.

There was an expansion into chemicals and chemical derivatives. This was in addition to producing a wide range of fabrics. In May 1957 British Celanese was purchased by a competitor, Courtaulds, however the name of the works was unaltered. Further diversification into the production of vinyl acetate for emulsion paints occurred. The production of nylon based materials expanded and tow production started. At this time acetate tow was mainly used for cigarette filters.

The 80s saw a change in the name of the works and a change in fashion towards natural fibres. The demand for acetate and celon yarn (nylon) reduced. The fabric printing operation Bonshawe closed, followed by the knitting and dyeing unit Furzebrook. Gradually other companies moved on site to use redundant buildings, including Steel Cords and National Plastics.

World demand for filter tow grew and to meet the demand, a new £50million plant was opened to produce Cellulose Diacetate Flake in 1998.

Links with the community were developed in different ways including a Community Liasion Panel, the giving of grants and support to local organisations and charities. In 1987 the SWANS (Spondon Wildlife and Naturalist Society) was formed to develop the nature reserve on site.

In September 1998 Courtaulds plc was acquired by Netherlands based Akzo Nobel and the name changed to Acordis.

Acordis was divested to CVC Capital Partners in 1999 and production continued to run down. The south end of the site was sold for development. In February 2007 the site was purchased by American Celanese, set up by Camille Dreyfus and final production at Celanese was in November 2012. Clarifoil, a subsidiary of Celanese continues production on site
















28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
They"ve come out nice matey :thumb

It was a long day that one, especially with no sandwiches for me lol

Hopefully the whole of Network Rail for the Midlands won"t be watching us next time :banghead

Cheers fella :thumb cant tell how they are with this laptop and only just realised the brightness had been lowered by the kids lol

I have no idea how you eat your sandwiches while out exploring, would freak me right out lol

We will have to get some orange hi vis for next time ;)


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Interesting to hear about a new fence. What does it encircle?
The new fence continues from the previous one near the dudes house and goes all the way up to the edge of a building closer to the railway crossing

Also looks like there is new fencing at the back where demo is going on, which looks like it is coming down quite quickly as well as. Also new secca huts round the back, possibly for protection of the demo equipment


Got Epic?
Regular User
Humm yeh, i never went in the front but the buildings along the front fence there are one of the unseen parts so it would be nice if someone would make the effort for those.

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