Beautifully engraved certificate from the Native Guano Company Limited
issued in 1872. This historic document has an
ornate block border with the company's name on top center. This item has the signatures of the Company's Directors and is over 141 years old.
The Native Guano Company had a monopoly of the manure market in England. They convinced cities they could transform their foul wastes from sewage into a profitable ‘artificial fertilizer.’ In retrospect, therefore, these original treatment plants were frankly not built for environmental or sanitary gain. Instead, the prime goal for this company’s patented technology, known as the "ABC Process,’ was considerably more focused on nutrient recovery (nitrogen and phosphorus).
In retrospect, though, the ABC Process started a sanitary revolution whose technical prodigy would eventually lead us to full-fledged waste water treatment facilities. This original procedure, using alum, blood, and clay (i.e., "ABC") to optimistically promote a sort of natural ‘coagulation,’ no doubt qualifies as the seminal prototype for physical-chemical sewage treatment. Undoubtedly, this scheme was a malodorous first step, but the precedent had been established against which future engineers could measure their success.
Southampton's first sewage system - Southampton's 1000th archaeological recording project was a unusual one. The Council archaeological team was told of the imminent destruction of an 1870 sewage facility by John Horne, who assisted in the recording (reference code SOU 1000). The tanks had survived in the Northam Gas Works for 100 years because they were too massive to be worth destroying. Trees and bushes had grown around them. The record was made in September 1999. The new St Mary's football stadium occupies the area now.
Disposal of sewage had become a series problem in Southampton by the mid-19th century. There were four outbreaks of cholera in the town between 1849 and 1866. However, the corporation were unwilling to do anything because of fear of the cost. The Native Guano Company Ltd convinced the Corporation in 1870 that they could solve the town's sewage problem, and at least cover their costs by turning it into fertilizer.
A site in Northam was obtained next to a main sewer that flowed into the River Itchen. The company built huge tanks into which the sewage was pumped from the sewer below by steam engines. By addition of a secret ingredient patented by the ABC Company a rich fertilizer would result. The scheme was a failure, apparently the sewage was too wet! The land was sold, part to the London and South Western Railway, and the rest to the Southampton Gas Light and Coke Company.
History from Wikipedia.