Henry Phillips
an employee of Illingworth and Ilford Ltd

Jessica Trethowan has sent me two pictures of her grandfather, Henry Phillips.

Henry was born in 1898. So he was 18 in 1916. He started his Chemistry Degree at University College, London (UCL) before being conscripted into the Armed Forces. He was in Italy as a soldier during World War 1 but returned to UCL to finish his BSc degree in chemistry after the war.

Its understood that he started worked at the photographic company of Thomas Illingworth at Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal, London NW10, during the 1920s.
The first picture is thought to have been taken in the early 1930s, at a time when Illingworth's had been taken over by Ilford and Henry Phillips became an Ilford employee. He is believed to have worked as a chemist on the composition of the light sensitive emulsions used for coating photographic paper. From 1928 the Illingworth company was progressively absorbed into the Ilford organisation. The site at Park Royal was fully used for paper production until the mid-1930s when the emulsion-making and coating operations were transferred to Mobberley, Cheshire, the factory of the old Rajar company. Hence, the first photograph might have been taken at Park Royal or Mobberley, though most likely Park Royal.

The 2nd photograph of Henry (scroll down) is believed to date to the 1950s, taken at the Mobberley factory laboratory.

Henry continued his employment with Ilford Ltd at Mobberley, Cheshire, the current home of Ilford Photo. In the 1950s the Mobberley site was Ilford’s centre for photographic paper research, manufacture and packaging.

Henry Phillips is named in an Ilford Patent dated December 16th, 1947, entitled "Treatment of Developed Silver Images with Mercapto-Tetrazole and Triazole Compounds". This treatment was found to enhance the tonal quality of the printed image.

Jessica Trethowan also tells me that a famly friend was the wife of the chief chemist, Olaf Bloch.

From 'Silver by the Ton' page 63:
Olaf Frederick Block, 1872-1944, was an unusual personality: a chemist, a wit, a practical joker and an exponent of publicity in science. After attending Finsbury Technical College and Birkbeck Scientific and Literary Institute, he became a research assistant at the Royal Institution, London. He joined Ilford in 1910, working under Renwick on emulsion chemistry and dye sensitisation; he became chief chemist in 1931. Block was associated particularly with the development of special plates of value in scientific work: 'Q' plates, for F. W. Aston's mass spectrometer, the first nuclear plates; R1 and R2 plates for astronomy and infra-red sensitive plates.
Not content with normal activities in middle age, he took up mountaineering at the age of 51, surviving a slide of several hundred feet in the Pyrenees when escaping from the Spanish Civil War in 1936. For his services to science, he was made an Hon. LLD of Aberdeen University and awarded the Royal Photographic Society's Progress Medal.

Henry Phillips


This page last updated: 10th November 2014