Brief History of Deanshanger Oxide Works 1934-1999
Abraham and Hertha Wreschner with sons Hans and Kurt fled, like many others, from Nazi Germany to Britain and eventually to settle in Deanshanger. They bought the home of the Roberts family who had recently owned the Iron Foundry in the village.
Then in 1935 they went into joint partnership with the London firm, Morris Ashby.
A partnership that was to last for 40 years, formed 'Ashby Smelting, a company that produced Red Lead. This was a scarlet crystalline powder used as the pigment in paint. It was in use in as far-flung countries as India where it was used as face paint. In later years, the toxic properties were realised and it was then confined to use as a protective coating for structural iron and steelwork only.
Click on image to see short video Over the Rooftops of the Works (116K)
Two years later, in 1936, the company diversified into the production of Iron Oxide, which was of such fine quality as to lead to European and world-wide sales. Abraham Wreshner opened the company with a staff of 20, which grew 10 fold and the firm was the biggest producer of iron oxide dye in the country. The village was ideally located for transport routes being close to the A5 and the factory was situated by the side of the Buckingham arm of the Grand Union Canal, by which, for 25 years, the coal for production was delivered.

In 1979, the Billington Division of Shell became joint owners of 'Morris Ashby' and finally in 1982 'Harrisons & Crosfield' purchased Deanshanger Oxide Works from the Wreshner family and Shell and named it 'Deanox'. Their products were as diverse as furniture and toy finishes to automotive finishes and colorant systems. The Red Lead production ceased in December 1991 and the buildings were decontaminated and demolished in December 1995-96.

Later on the 20th October 1997 the Harrisons & Crosfield site was renamed 'Elementis'. Work continued on the site, until 1999 when the decision was taken to close the factory because cheaper imports of Iron Oxide Pigments were more readily available. It has now been demolished in favour of further housing.

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