Modern British Art by Frank Oldham: Hydrogen Peroxide Production, KingswayWorks Luton, 1940 |





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Frank Oldham:
Hydrogen Peroxide Production, KingswayWorks Luton, 1940

Framed (ref: 2593)


Oil on canvas, 28 x 36 in. (92 x71 cm.)

Tags: Impressionnists interiors war work

Provenance: Laporte plc 1940s–2004; private collection since 2004.
Literature: Paul Liss, Laporte, A History in Art, Laporte plc, London, 2000, illus. p. 8.

By the end of the 1930s,much of British industry was geared to the production of war materials. Laporte, a chemical manufacturer based in Luton, commissioned these paintings to record their contribution to the war effort: the production of barium peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, essential ingredients for the manufacture of explosive, incendiary and pyrotechnic compositions.

Barium peroxide was produced using a long tunnel kiln, a process  first introduced during the FirstWorldWar when supplies of naturally occurring barium peroxide were in short supply. Barium peroxide is the main ingredient for the production of hydrogen peroxide.The kiln used by Laporte, shown here, was finally dismantled in the early 1950s.

The second painting depicts the distillation of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidising agent, which at high strengths causes instantaneous ignition (at 97% concentrate it is used for rocket propulsion). At the end of the SecondWorldWar the government handed over to Laporte as part of a reparations programme theV-1 andV-2 production plants in Munich, where weapons incorporated high-test hydrogen peroxide in their launch and propulsion systems. Laporte sold the plants back to Germany in 2003.

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