Scottish Agricultural Industries
Fertiliser manufacturers -
Chemical Plant at Leith Docks
I visited the Scottish
Agricultural Industries (SAI) plant at Leith Docks in August 1991,
the year that the plant closed. It was due to be cleared
SAI was founded around 1880. In the 1940s it merged with
several other firms, and became a subsidiary of ICI (either then or
later). The SAI plant at Leith Docks was last remaining SAI
plant to operate in Scotland. However, its closure was
announced on February 28, 1991.
- phosphoric acid
- sulphuric acid
- nitric acid
- sulphur from Mexico, Holland, France and elsewhere
- phosphates from Russia, Senegal, Morocco and elsewhere.
SAI reached a peak in 1984, then employing 2,000 workers in
Scotland, including 340 in Edinburgh.
The spheres in this
photo were built to store ammonia.
At the time of my visit
in 1992, there were only three SAI employees left in Edinburgh to
decommission the plant, including Douglas Gillespie, seen standing
in front of the plant in this photo. Douglas had worked for
SAI since 1958. He helped to install both the previous nitric
acid plant and the new nitric acid plant at Leith Docks
The new nitric acid plant was described as 'state of the art'.
It was only 4 years old and had worked well. The company hoped
to sell it for further use in Southern Ireland. It was
estimated that it would cost £8m to move the plant, as against £30m
to build a new plant.
Thank you to James Greig
"I came across the page
about SAI in Leith ...
but I couldn't see
any mention of the large area of land that the SAI used to occupy in
front of the building faced onto Bowling Green Street. I can
remember it well as a child as they used to have a bell at the front
entrance. I remember, as kids, we used to try and hit the bell
with stones to make it chime."
Edinburgh: June 24, 2014