Our history

First 100 years distilled...

Today the Saltend site is a symbol of technological modernity. Yet until the early years of the twentieth century, the site was a windswept saltmarsh, illuminated only by its twin lighthouses.

The first significant development took place in 1914 when a wooden jetty was built. This led to the arrival of the first tenants and, years later, the start of a new enterprise - a distillery which produced industrial alcohol from molasses. 

In 1930, the production of vinegar began which was the second event that shaped the future of the site. The initial process involved trickling industrial alcohol over beechwood shavings, infected with a suitable culture. In the early seventies, Saltend welcomed the arrival of new technology. This came in the form of a switch from the reliance on alcohol produced from molasses to oil-based feedstock. 

In 1967, BP took over the chemicals sites from Distillers Company and took it to the next level. In 1982, the A4 plant was commissioned to produce acetic acid, making Saltend Europe’s number one producer of acetic acid. The A5 acetic acid and anhydride plant followed 7 years later – this prestigious and largest engineering project in the UK at the time pushed Saltend to the very forefront of the chemical industry.