EH 390 Dissertation in Economic and Social History
The German and British Portland cement industries 1850-1913: A comparative study
Balthazar van Roosendaal
Abbreviations • APCM – Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers • AGPCM – Association of German Portland Cement Manufacturers (Verein Deutscher Portland Cement Fabrikanten) • FCF – Fixed Capital Formation • UK –United Kingdom • WWI – World War One Terminology • A cement factory can also be called cement works or cement plant. • Germany in this paper is defined as the area covered by the Second Empire of 1871-1918 (see figure 1). E.g. Germany in 1850: in this paper makes reference to the area of the Second German empire (1871-1918) in the year 1850. • In this paper, the United Kingdom covers the area ofEngland, Scottland, Wales and the whole island of Ireland. Great Britain is defined as England, Wales and Scottland. Britain is equivalent to the United Kingdom.
Figure 1: German Empire 1871-1918. Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
I report the present time as, in many respects, a very critical period in the history of the cement trade. Our own country, the original seat of the manufacture,has been distanced in certain directions in consequence of superior scientific skill and the energy of foreign rivals. The supremacy we have long enjoyed has undoubtedly been to some extent wrested from us by the products of Continental industry and enterprise, and in the absence of some united action and intelligent leading, our manufacturers are threatened with a competition which they are notadequately armed to encounter G. R. Redgrave, 18951
Introduction Portland cement is a key element in today’s world. It is used in most new houses, in commercial buildings, in infrastructural projects of all sorts. World cement consumption in 2006 was about 2.5 billion tons2. The patent for Portland cement dates from 1824, deposed by Joseph Aspdin from Leeds, UK3. The ascent of the Portland cementindustry as such started in the 1840s and 50s in England. Many new Portland cement works were being erected. Already in the 1850s, the Portland cement technology found its way across the channel to the continent with the creation of works in France and Germany. A few decades after its inception, the British Portland cement industry fell behind other nations. In the 1870s, Germany took the lead inquality. It also overtook Britain in terms of quantity produced in the 1880s and export quantity in the 1890s. The British Portland cement industry is another testimony to Britain’s loss of industrial leadership in the second half of the 19th century. This paper will investigate the reasons behind Germany’s ascent to European leadership in the industry compared to the United Kingdom.
1Redgrave G., Calcareaous Cements. Their Nature & Uses,preface. U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, (2007) p. 41. 3 Francis A., The Cement Industry, p. 16.
At first, this paper will go into the general background of the period and present the historiography on the subject. Part II will briefly introduce the reader to the technical and chemical aspects of cement production.Part III will lay down some basic economic aspects of the cement industry. Part IV will analyze different aspects of the Portland cement industry in Germany and the UK during the period of study. Part V will investigate the use and demand for Portland cement in both countries. Part VI will conclude this paper.
1. Historical Background and Historiography The period 1850 to 1913 was a period ofeconomic, technological, colonial expansion for Germany and the United Kingdom. Both powers’ mainland population approximately doubled in the period4. In real terms, the GDP per capita increased by about 100% in the United Kingdom and 160% in Germany5. Britain by 1850 was much more advanced at almost any level than Germany. Its real GDP per capita was 63% higher6 and its industrial base was also...
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