BPB plc


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BPB plc

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BPB plc (British Plaster Board) is a British building materials business: it is the world's largest manufacturer of plasterboard. It used to be a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but was taken over by Saint-Gobain of France in 2005.


Inter-war period

The development of plasterboard (a sandwich of gypsum plaster between two sheets of paper) dates back to the late nineteenth century in the USA. The first patent was granted in 1894 but it was not until an American, Frank Culver, persuaded his new employer, Thomas McGhie and Sons, to buy a plasterboard plant from the USA that this new product was introduced to Britain. A site was acquired at Wallasey Cheshire and building started in 1916. However, McGhie’s shareholders could not supply sufficient funding and in 1917 the plasterboard assets were sold to a new company, British Plaster Board Limited .

The British building industry was initially slow to adopt the new product. Helped by a more modern plant, purchased in 1927, sales gradually increased and by 1932 the Company was able to float on the London Stock Exchange.The additional capital enabled BPB to build a new factory at Erith in 1934. The Erith plant had the capacity to manufacture the gypsum plaster (the core of the plasterboard product) and BPB began importing gypsum rock from Canada. This encouraged negotiations with other gypsum companies in Britain and a “breath-taking series of take-overs” followed in the next two years, making BPB the dominant...
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