Reported in the News Letter on September 26, 1962: Just 10 staff needed to run £2.5m hi-tech fertiliser factory


Automation in Northern Ireland has rarely achieved a higher degree of efficiency than is to be found at the new Belfast Harbour factory of Richardson’s Fertilisers Ltd, which is to be formally opened by the Prime Minister, Viscount Brookeborough, on Friday [September 28].

This immense £2,500,000 factory built on reclaimed land is mechanised to such a degree of efficiency that 10 of the 150 round-the-clock employees can run it in one shift.

The factory is only a stone’s throw from the Herdman Channel itself and the raw materials are brought in cargo vessels to Richardson’s Wharf, which is a hundred yards from the plant and was specially built to serve the factory. Although the wharf is so close, lorries are used to convey the raw materials and the distance between wharf and factory must surely be the shortest transport route in Northern Ireland.

Mervyn Hadden, head of sales, said yesterday that the building of the factory was an achievement of which the management were very proud.

Started in January 1961, no fewer than 2,000 piles were necessary to provide solid foundations, yet the plant was handed over on the completion date 18 months later.

Richardson’s have great hopes for the new factory, which is already in full production and whose workers are nearly all Ulster people.

The demand for the firm’s range of fertilisers has steadily risen from 50,000 tons in 1938-39 to 250,000 this year.

The new factory occupies 15-and-a-half acres, but the company have leased an additional seven-and-half acres, which they hope to develop at a future date.

Only about 30 per cent of the factory’s output will be exported to Great Britain, as the major share will be used for agriculture in Northern Ireland.