150 years of progress

Object number

LDVAL 2007.24.1




Booklet produced to celebrate 150 years of the May and Baker Compnay, 1834 - 1984.

May & Baker has its origin in the United Kingdom. In 1834 John May, Joseph L. Pickett and Thomas S. Grimwade started a business manufacturing chemicals for pharmaceuticals products. Known as Grimwade, May & Pickett, this business was located at Battersea, England.
When Pickett died in 1835 and Grimwade left the partnership in 1839, May was joined by a young chemist, William Garrard Baker. The new partnership was called May and Baker.

At the Great Exhibition, 1851, the company was awarded the prize medal for its acids, metallic salts and other preparations used in Pharmacy. The medal was awarded for “excellent quality”.

For years the company continued to manufacture chemicals for pharmaceutical products until 1889 when it introduced its first drug, Sulphonal, a sedative.

In December 1890, May & Baker was registered in the United Kingdom as a limited liability company. Thereupon, it became May & Baker Limited.
May & Baker Limited became the subsidiary of a French pharmaceutical company in the early 20th century. It entered into an agreement with Poulenc Freres, whereby the former was selling the latter's products in the United Kingdom. This relationship was further cemented in 1927, when Poulenc Freres bought into May & Baker, owning 85 per cent of the company's total capital and over 90 per cent of its ordinary shares.
In 1928, Poulenc Freres merged with another French company, Rhone, forming Rhone-Poulenc.

Following the company's acquisition by the French company and the need to expand and build a modern factory, may & Baker moved to its present site at Dagenham. This was in April 1934. The door to May & Baker's fame in Sulphonamides was opened in November 1937 with the successful synthesis of M&B 693 from Sulphapyridine. The company was, for many years, best known for M&B 693 which provided a cure for the hitherto killer-disease, bacterial pneumonia. Other Sulphonamides like the M&B 760 were soon to follow.

Although it passed through several hands, the name May & Baker has remained till today because of the goodwill created worldwide by the use of “M&B” trademark.

Physical description

12 page A4 booklet recounting the 150 year history of the May & Baker company. The front cover shows a gold embossed globe with the M&B logo at its centre set on a dark blue background. Below this are 6 coloured photographs illustrating the various uses of May and Bakers products. Pages i and 1 give an introduction to the company, set on a large coloured aerial view of the Dagenham plant. There are also thumbnail coloured images of the May & Baker properties in Australia, Bangladesh, India, Norwich and Nairobi. Page 2 and 3 provide information on the pharmaceutical side of the company, with 9 accompanying coloured photographs. Pages 4 & 5 concern agrochemicals, with 11 associated colour photographs. Page 6 describes animal health products with 5 colored photographs. Page 7 concerns chemicals, with 4 coloured photographs. Page 8 describes photographic processing products, with 3 coloured photographs, and information technology with 2 coloured photographs. Page 9 describes laboratory chemicals, with 6 coloured photographs. Pages 10 & 11describes research at M&B, with 8 accompanying coloured photographs. Page 12 describes landmarks in M&B history and page 13 lists M&B offices around the world.






Whole length: Arraymm
width: Arraymm

Collection type


Alternative reference

Entry Number 1694 (2007-05-23)

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InstitutionValence House Museum
Collection typeEphemera