Photo Technology Ltd

The following account is incomplete and I'd welcome hearing from anyone who can add further information. It contains personal surmise to compensate for more detailed knowledge. Parts appear on other pages of this site (especially pages devoted to A.R.Pippard and Colour Printing) but I thought it best to bring the various parts together to improve continuity.

Johnsons of Hendon had been involved with colour chemistry since the 1950s. Apart from manufacturing a range of colour chemistry chemicals, they were also responsible for the Ferraniacolor transparency film home processing outfit and for the Pakolor colour negative film developing and printing outfits. Its also quite likely they were involved with the Paterson-Pavelle home colour print processing outfits marketed from 1963.

Johnsons bought out their own 'colour head' enlarger (with a filter draw and tri-colour filter slide; variable dichroic filters had not yet been applied to colour printing), with an associated colour analyser and print processing equipment, in late 1963 or early 1964. At that time Johnsons did not have their own brand colour negative printing chemistry, so their equipment was intended to work with the newly introduced Kodak home colour print processing chemicals.

An actual Johnsons Colour Enlarger is shown left and below, though its additive tri-colour filter slide and subtractive 'white light' filter drawer are both missing.

Notice affixed to the constant voltage transformer

It is quite possible that Johnsons saw that home colour processing might become a strong competitor to their long standing black & white home processing chemicals and decided to embark upon new R&D to fill the gap in their product range. More surmise is that this was a prime incentive explaining why Johnsons decided to build a new research laboratory in the early to mid-1960s.

Antony.R.Pippard ('Pip' Pippard), who had worked for Johnsons since c1944, was given responsibility for the design and building of Johnsons' new research laboratory, which was completed around 1966. At that time 'Pip' had just been promoted to Chief Chemist, consequent on Sydney Ray leaving that post. 'Pip' Pippard subsequently, in 1970, became Technical Director for Johnsons of Hendon.

By 1972 Johnsons of Hendon had been acquired by Hestair who proceeded to asset strip it by selling the Hendon site itself, which was worth a lot of money. It became the Brent Cross shopping centre. The 'new' (in 1966) Johnsons laboratory, in just ten years, became the car park of the Brent Cross shopping complex ! However, during the time the new research facilities were in existence it is likely that the R&D foundations were laid for some (at least) of the later world class Photo Technology Ltd home use colour chemistry products. The clue may be an article in 'Photography' magazine for May 1973 which refers to Johnsons having "recently introduced an easy-to-use outfit to suit Agfa paper and formulated for the small-scale home user."

Having lost their Hendon site, Johnsons moved to the old Handley Page aircraft factory at Radlett, Hertfordshire, which itself had closed in 1970. Then, in spring 1974, Johnsons ceased photographic chemicals production and 'Pip' lost his job, was rehired but lost his job again and then couldn't find work. He approached various companies, including Ilford, but they had their own problems! By then, aged in his 50s, 'Pip' Pippard felt he was on the scrapheap and it was a difficult time for him and the family. Fortunately, in 1975 he met up with S.Adrian Willis (formerly of the Regent Chemical Company; the S stood for Sidney), who wanted to re-establish the Johnsons' chemicals business. Adrian, with the backing of his boss from the Regent Chemical Company and his dentist, yes his dentist, who was a keen photographer and worked in Harley street, he came up with a plan to buy Johnstons.

The Willis' house was sold to pay for Adrian's part of the deal, so the family had to rent in Hatfield for three years until things started to go right.

Adrian and 'Pip' obtained Rights to the well-known Johnsons of Hendon 'Scales Brand' trademark logo from Hestair, in its familiar orange colour scheme, and also the famous Johnsons monchrome chemistry brand names such as Unitol, Definol etc, but Hestair would not sell the company name 'Johnsons of Hendon'. Hence, 'Pip' and Adrian settled on a new name for their products, being Photo Technology Ltd. They set up their operations at Cranbourne Industrial Estate, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. 'Flask End' was the name of the holding company formed by Adrian Willis of which Photo Technology Ltd was a part.

Alongside are two examples of the Johnsons of Hendon 'Scales' trade mark, which subsequent to 1976 was applied to Photo Technology Ltd products.

A gentleman named Richard Stevens e-mailed to say that he was also part of the team which formed Photo Technology Ltd out of the discarded chemical production section of Johnsons of Hendon in 1976. Johnsons' staff who joined this new venture were 'Pip' Pippard, Bill Smith and John Butcher from production and Malcolm Band who worked with 'Pip' in the laboratory. The Test Paper division was also bought into Photo Technology and Martin Burnside came to run it.

Malcolm Band has emailed to tell me "Like many of the staff at Photo Technology Ltd., I came from a background of working at Johnsons of Hendon Ltd. I worked at Johnsons for about 3½years but left when the Brent Cross developers took over the site at Hendon. After working at various other companies, I spotted an advert for staff wanted at Photo Technology, met Adrian (Willis), and served the company for 20 years thereafter. Unfortunately, I was unable to move to Tipton (the late 1980s), so I took redundancy at that time".

Another person who claims technical input to Photo Technology Ltd's colour chemistries, is Alan Frame. Alan says that "Back in 1966, to supplement my meagre income, I devised a 2-bath colour negative process which at that time reduced the processing of a Kodak C-22 emulsion from approximately 1½hours to approximately 25minutes (C-22 was Kodak's near globally standard colour negative process at that time, though competing with Agfa's CN process). These process times are 'dry film start to dry print finish'. By utilising this process it was possible to photograph e.g a wedding, and return the same day with high quality colour photographs of the event. This concept led, in discussion with several leading photo chemists at the time, to what was to become Photocolor II". This claim of Alan's is uncorroborated.

{Alan further comments: The Agfacolor CN colour negative process was relatively minute in global terms within the colour market. However, until circa 1969 Fuji (then still based entirely within Japan) and Ferrania were also utilising the Agfacolor system as the basis of their colour materials. Subsequently, senior management at Fuji made the marketing decision that all their colour film products would, in future, follow the Kodak processes. After Fuji went both C-22 (colour negative) as well as E-4 (colour reversal) film compatible, the Kodak processes became fully global. It wasn't until the late 1970’s, due to market pressures, that Agfa, by then Agfa Gevaert, also switched to the Kodak system, which were then the C-41 and E-6 processes.}

Photocolor II was the world's first workable '2 bath' process capable of both developing C-41 (Kodak process) colour negative film and also processing EP-2 (Kodak process) colour printing paper. Much to 'Pip's annoyance, however, the print developer required a 3rd bottle, a UV brightener to improve print contrast. Practical Photography magazine (April 1984 edition) claims Photocolor II first appeared on the market in 1975 and a 1984 Photocolor advertisement in Amateur Photographer magazine, 31st March 1984, confirms this.

Notwithstanding Alan Frame's claim (above), Malcolm has independently told me that his understanding is that "Photocolor II was solely invented by 'Pip' Pippard". It was later enhanced by Malcolm working with ‘Pip’, "whom I had the pleasure to work with up until his sad death at the age of 64years (actually 66years according to Pip's son). Thereafter, I took over from him as Chief Research Chemist".

Photocolor II was featured on Tomorrow's World (around autumn 1976) and 'Pip' was very pleased to attend the recording session, although he was not on TV himself.

Adrian Willis believed in honesty and hard work and some years later, when he learned the history of 'Pip's working life, he was so impressed that he put Pip Pippard's name foreword for an OBE.

Philip Weston in his 1977 (?) book "How to do your own Developing & Printing" wrote:
"About a year ago, lechers waiting for 'Top of the Pops' on BBC1 would be delighted to find photography featured on Tomorrow's World', with William Woollard demonstrating to the viewers the Photocolor II process. For about an hour afterwards my phone was red-hot with people ringing up asking if I had seen it and how it works? - doubtless the reaction was the same nationwide. Although Photocolor II had been on the market for about a year before being featured on TV, it seemed to have attracted less than the amount of attention warrented by so novel a concept - you can process your films and then, with the addition of a small amount of a print additive, process your prints in the same chemicals."

Photo Technology also remarketed the monochrome chemicals that used to be sold by Johnsons i.e. Definol, Unitol, Bromide, Universol. Contrast, 326, Indicol, Fix-Sol, Redifix and Speedwash. In 1976, they advertised Definol, claiming that 4p was all it cost to develop a 35mm b&w film.

Photochrome R, for making positive prints (using Kodak 14RC paper) direct from colour transparencies, first appeared on the market in late 1976 costing £8.50 for solutions enough to process 30 10"x8" prints (or 60 using dish processing). The main competition to Photochrome R was Ilford's Cibachrome A (in 1976) which produced very good results, arguably superior to Photochrome R, but its use could appear daunting because a kit included six chemicals, two being powders, while Photochrome R just required the dilution of liquid concentrates. Cibachrome was also a more expensive process. In spring 1980, Photochrome R was simplified by the expedient of chemical reversal being built into the colour developer. Previously, the print required removing from the processing drum for reversal exposure to light, before colour development.

In August 1979 (see Practical Photography magazine) they added their Photocolor Chrome-Six kit into the Photocolor range for processing E6 compatible colour transparency slide film. It used just four chemical solutions, all mixed from concentrates - "just add water to make up only as much as you need". Originally sold just as a 1 litre kit, by early 1982 Photo Technology also marketed a 4 litre version, capable of processing the equivalent of 40 36-exposure 35mm films. It cost £26.93p + VAT, working out at about 77p per film. Photo Technology claimed Chrome-Six "costs only around half the price of other E6 kits". Chrome-Six had been simplified by 1990 to Chrome-Six 3, requiring the use of only three solutions instead of the original four. It had been improved again by 1995 to Chrome-Six 3+ "for brighter colours".

At Photoworld 1983 they unveiled Photocolor RT Printmaker, a room temperature colour print processing chemistry (tested in AP, 28th May 1983; click here to download it as a pdf; and by Practical Photography, April 1984). This chemistry eventually acquired a name change to Photocolor Printmaster around 1988, when improvements to the chemistry led to the colour developing time at 21°C reducing from 5min 5sec down to 3min 15sec (though I always preferred to add 20% to the development time for maximum contrast and colour vibrancy). Photocolor Printmaster II appeared around 1989, though possibly the 'II' was just to distinguish a new type of bottle seal used to prevent deterioration of the three developer concentrates once the manufacturers seals had been broken.

Jon Pippard (son of 'Pip' Pippard) has sent the picture alongside of a 25 sheet 8x10 inches (203x254 mm) packet of Photocolor RC (Resin Coated) colour negative printing paper. This paper was manufactured for Phototechnology by the Italian company Ferrania, which become part of 3M from 1964. The paper was available in Glossy and Lustre surfaces.


'Pip' Pippard had been involved with Ferrania since the 1950s, on behalf of Johnsons of Hendon, in formulating home processing chemistry for Ferraniacolor transparency film (see here and scroll down). He set up this new relationship between PhotoTechnology and 3M probably around 1983-84. After a few teething troubles the paper became quite well respected. (Author's note: I sometimes used Photocolor paper in the late 1980's as a lower cost alternative to Kodak Ektacolor paper and found it gave equally pleasing results).

Although 'Pip' had not always been well paid for his efforts, he was eventually rewarded by receiving an OBE from the Queen in 1983 for services to the photo-chemical industry. ‘Pip’ had worked for many years in the photographic industry, setting exams and invigilating, during the years when apprentices working in Photographic Outlets needed qualifications. For this and other services to photography, ‘Pip’ was awarded the OBE (proposed by Managing Director, Adrian Willis). Malcom Band says "Pip was very humble about the whole episode". Then, having stayed at Photo Technology until a little past his 65th birthday retirement age (in 1984), 'Pip' Pippard died very unexpectedly from a stroke at the young age of 66 in 1985.

Adrian Willis' son, Gary, tells me that his father, who was the originator of the Photo Technology Ltd company (see above) died aged 65years in 2001.

In mid-1984 Photo Technology Ltd were still at Cranborne Industrial Estate, Potters Bar, Herts, EN6 3JN. They advertised their range of monochrome chemistry, ex-Johnsons of Hendon, in Practical Photography magazine's April issue. The linked picture showing that range of monochrome chemistry includes the old Johnsons' 'Unitol' film developer but named as 'New Unitol', which perhaps reflects the announcement at Photoworld April 1983 (AP magazine 23rd April '83) that Unitol had been given a 'facelift'. Photo Technology had improved the formulation enabling it to be used at different dilutions to give optimum results with films of differing speeds. It was also claimed to give finer grain, improved sharpness and to have better keeping properties, assisted by being capped and ultrasonically sealed, like other Photocolor / Photochrome products.


This pack of Glossy Photocolor RC colour negative printing paper is believed to date from around 1984 or just slightly later. Photo Technology are still an independent company at this time, still located at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England.

Unlike the pack of paper shown above, this pack was made in West Germany, hence not by Ferrania/3M.

Open only in total darkness or using a Kodak No.13 safelight.

In the list on the reverse of the pack, of 'Other Photo Technology products', the black & white developer 'Unitol' is said to be a 'modern formulation', suggesting it was benefitting from the 'facelift' announced at Photoworld in April 1983.

The full product list can be read in a close up image, shown a short distance further down this page.


Paterson / Photax / Photo Technology purchased by the Arley group
In an e-mail, Richard Stevens relates how, in the mid-1980s (hence around the time that 'Pip' retired and then died) the Photo Technology group of companies that had been formed in 1976, was purchased by the ARLEY group, who also purchased Paterson and Photax.

Tim Norgate, who joined Paterson in 1974 and was their Midlands Sales Representative for 10 years from 1979, tells me that Paterson were at Bedford Row, Holborn (London) when he joined but a few weeks later they moved to the Boswell Court address (see below). He left Paterson employment soon after Paterson was taken over by Photax.

Paterson headquarters, located at 2-6 Boswell Court, London, WC1N 3PS until 1984, relocated to 301-311 Rainham Road South, Dagenham, Essex, UK, where they remained until 1990.


This pack of 25 sheets of 5insx7ins Paterson branded colour printing paper, lustre surface, is from the mid to late 1980s, a time when Paterson were based at 301-311 Rainham Road South, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 8DH, east London.

Michael Talbert says:
This packet of Paterson resin coated paper was given to me by a photographic dealer in 1994, and was for processing in Kodak's EP2 chemistry or equivalent. I tried making prints on it but as the paper was out of date by 1994 it exhibited a red cast in the shadow areas of the prints and a slight cyan cast in the highlights, red to cyan cross over. The contrast was normal, unusual for outdated paper, and the red to cyan cross over was not obtrusive in most prints, except subjects with mainly shadow areas.

This Lustre surface was almost identical to the Kodak 'E' surface, called Lustre Luxe. There would also have been a glossy surface.

The label on the reverse shows the Exposure Factors, Red 37, Green 41, and Blue 23, for use with Tri-Colour (Additive) printing, and used when changing from one batch of paper to another.


Michael Talbert has also sent me the images alongside, showing the front and rear of a 25 sheet packet of Photocolor N, 5"x7" colour negative printing paper from a time when Photo Technology was "A Member of the Paterson Photax Group Ltd" with the address of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England. It possibly dates from the late 1980s.

Michael was given the paper by a photographic dealer in 1994. By this time the packet is believed to have been two or three years out of date, seemingly pre-dating mid-1991 when the independent company name Photo Technology appears to be 'lost' within the Paterson Photax Group reorganisation.

Photocolor N colour paper was for making prints from colour negatives, and a very helpful instruction sheet was enclosed in the packet. The sheet gave not only a test print starting filtration but also a comparable difference in starting filtrations between Photocolor N paper and Kodaks’ Ektacolor Plus paper.

A printer who was using Ektacolor Plus could apply the filtration change when exposing a first test print on Photocolor N. There is also a rough comparative exposure guide for the two papers.

The filtration difference between Ektacolor PLus and the Photocolor N papers was Minus 20 Yellow, Plus 10 Magenta when changing from “Plus” to “N”. Thus:
Starting filtration for Photocolor N: 70 Yellow, 70 Magenta (70 70 --)
20 seconds at f/11
Starting filtration for Ektacolor Plus: 90 Yellow, 60 Magenta (90 60 --)
14 seconds at f/11

Unfortunately, there is no mention of the make of filters to be used for the starting filtrations, but as one of the papers is Ektacolor Plus, it could be assumed that the filters to be used are Kodak Colour Printing filters, (CP filters), or filters in a colour head of about the same strength.

In early 1995, Michael Talbert attempted to make a few prints on this outdated Photocolor N paper. The test filtration was dialled into the colour head on a LPL 6700 enlarger and a stepped test was exposed. He was very surprised to find that the test print was almost correct in colour balance, and the final filtration came to 61 71 --, (61 Yellow, 71 Magenta), which gave a “pleasing” result, taking into account the age of the paper. The print had a poor colour rendering, with brown shadows, which if corrected would have made the highlights green or cyan, and it was considered better to leave the red/brown shadows than to render the highlights green.

The contrast was slightly soft. The paper had a resin coated base, with a high gloss surface, and was processed in a Tetenal Mono PK EP2 processing kit, the equivalent of Kodak Process EP-2.

The list (left) shown on the reverse of the Photocolor N (and R) paper packet, is titled "Other Photo Technology products" available at the time. The 'Monocolor Range' would have been derived from the earlier Johnsons of Hendon b&w chemistry.

The 'Photocolor Range' was subsequently (after mid-1991) assimilated into the Paterson Photax Group Ltd re-organisation (see below) and Photo Technology became part of Paterson Photax Group's chemical division, named Phototechnology (seemingly written as a single word).


Alongside are scans of the Photocolor N instructions. The notes read:

1. Storage: High temperature and relative humidity can damage colour paper. It is best to store the paper, when not in use. in a refrigerator at 10°C (50°F) or lower, protecting the packet with polythene to keep out moisture. Allow 2 to 3 hours after removal Irom the refrigerator for the paper to reach room temperature before use. For longer storage, the paper may be stored in a deep freeze, but allow 5 to 6 hours warm-up time before use
2. Safelights: The paper is best handled in total darkness, but a salelight utilising the 600nm sensitivity gap in the emulsion can be used. Suitable safelights are ones fitted with a Kodak No.13 (dark amber) filter and a 15watt bulb, or a Photax Safelite with 'D' dome (MSM 034). The red, orange or amber filters, used in black and white photography, are not suitable.
3. Filtration: In general, only yellow and magenta filters will be needed to correct colour casts. The actual values needed will depend on the equipment and films, but a useful starting point is 70Y + 70M, using an exposure of 20 seconds at f/11. Once a good pnnt has been made, by varying the filtration accordingly, note the values and use these as the basis for other negatives.
4. Processing: Photocolor N paper gives excellent results with Photocolor II, Photocolor II Professional, RT Pnntmaker and Printmaster Processing Outfits. The processing sequence is the same as that recommended in the appropriate instructions provided with the outfits. The paper may be processed in other chemical outfits recommended as compatible with the Kodak "EP-2" process.
5.Drying: Remove surface water from both sides of the print using a print squeegee or soft absorbent material, such as paper towels. Prints may be left to dry on a clean surface or dried using a drying cabinet or hair-dryer, being careful not to overheat the emulsion. Glossy paper dries to a natural gloss and must not be glazed.

6. Assessing Prints: The colour balance of the prints changes considerably on drying, so that it is best to assess the colour when prints are dry and in suitable lighting conditions.
7. Mounting: Water-based adhesives should only be used on porous surfaces, which allow drying through the back of the print. Rubber-based adhesives, double-sided tape and dry-mounting may all be used. Dry-mounting temperature should not exceed 100°C (212°F).
8. Storage of Prints: The dyes used in Photocolor N paper are specially selected tor stability but may, like other photographic dyes, change in time. Prolonged exposure to daylight, direct sunlight or artificial light with high ultra-violet content, should be avoided. Prints are best stored in a dry place, in the dark or in subdued lighting.
Photo Technology Ltd. The Gate Studios, Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts. WD6 1DQ


This pack of Photocolor R(eversal) colour printing paper is for making positive prints directly from postive slides (transparencies). It is the complimentary product to the colour negative printing paper shown above.

While various chemistries would have been suitable, Photo Technology no doubt hoped a user would purchase 'Chrome R'. Also compatible with the Kodak R3 Process.


Alongside are scans of the Photocolor R instructions. The notes read:

1. Storage: High temperature and relative humility can damage colour paper. It is best to store the paper, when not in use, in a refrigerator at 10°C (50°F) or lower, protecting the packet with polythene to keep out moisture. Allow 2 to 3 hours after removal from the refrigerator for the paper to reach room temperature before use. For longer storage the paper may be stored in a deep freeze, but allow 5 to 6 hours warm-up time before use. Photocotor R paper is supplied In a moisture-resistant package. When the packet has been opened, double-fold the plastic bag to protect the paper from light and moisture.
2. Safelights: Photocolor R paper must be handled in total darkness, since the paper is extremely sensitive to light of all wavelengths. There is no suitable safelight and it's very important to minimise stray light from the enlarger and any reflections.
3. Filtration: In general only yellow and cyan filters will be needed to correct colour casts, but since colour slides have a wider range than negatives, it is possible that any combination of yellow, magenta or cyan may be required with some slides. A useful starting point is 40Y + 30C. using an exposure of 10 seconds at f/16. Once a good print has been made, by varying the filtraton accordingly, note the values and use these as the basis for other slides.
4. Processing: Photocolor R paper gives excellent results with Photocolor Chrome 'R' processing outfits. Important Note: The processing sequence is the same as recommended in the Chrome 'R' instructions, but the Colour Developer time must be increased by 35% of the time given. For example, at 38°C the Colour Development time would be 2 minuts and 15 sec + 35% = 3 minutes. It this is not done, unsatisfactory results wilt be obtained. The paper may be processed in other chemical outfits recommended as compatible with the Kodak "R-3/R-3000" process (with a similar increase in Colour Development time).

5. Drying: Remove surface water from both sides of the print using a print squeegee or soft absorbent material, such as paper towels. Prints may be left to dry on a clean surface or dried using a drying cabinet or hair-dryer, being careful not to overheat the emulsion. Glossy paper dries to a natural gloss and must not be glazed
6. Assessing Prints: The colour balance of the prints changes considerably on drying, so that it is best to assess the colour when prints are dry and in suitable lighting conditions.
7. Mounting: Water-based adhesives should only be used on porous surfaces, which allow drying through the back of the print. Rubber-based adhesives, double-sided tape and dry-mounting may all be used. Dry-mounting temperature should not exceed 100°C (212°F).
8. Storage of Prints: The dyes used in Photocolor R paper are specially selected for stability but may, like all other photographic dyes, change in time. Prolonged exposure to daylight, direct sunlight or artificial light with high ultra-violet content should be avoided. Prints are best stored in a dry place, in the dark or in subdued lighting.
Photo Technology Ltd, The Gate Studios, Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts. WD6 1DQ

Photax, previously at Eastborne, Sussex, relocated to Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1DQ and assimilated Photocolor chemistry (i.e. Photo Technology) into their product line. By early 1990, Photocolor had a trading address at the previous Photax address of 54, Brampton Road, Hampden Park, Eastborne, Sussex, BN22 9BG.

Paterson monochrome chemistry was seemingly already produced, or at least packaged, from the same Borehamwood address that Photax moved to in the mid-1980s, but before Paterson and Photax were purchased by the Arley Group. Paterson chemistry instruction leaflets give the address of 'The Gate Studios', Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1DQ from (at least) 1981 and through to (and maybe later than) July 1991. Possibly this address became the base for all Paterson and Photo Technology chemistry production prior to it being relocated to Vaughan Trading Estate, Tipton, West Midlands, UK.

The previous 'Johnsons of Hendon' monochrome chemistry, with its distribution Rights purchased by Photo Technology in 1976, was marketed by Photax as Monocolor, though still with the (originally Johnsons) 'Scales' trademark on the bottle labels. There is suspicion within the photographic press (Practical Photography, January 1994, p120) that Jessop's own brand Econotol developer might also have been repackaged Unitol, as originally marketed by Johnsons of Hendon from December 1950.

Presumably it was convenient to market the Photo Technology colour chemistry under the Photax name because Paterson had its own range of colour chemistry that competed with the Photocolor products. Paterson's '3E6' processing kit competed with Photo Technology's Chrome Six and Paterson's 2NA universal colour processing chemicals competed with Photocolor II. Indeed, since 'NA' stood for 'No Additive', Paterson effectively claimed a technical advantage over Photocolor II with the latter's need for the addition of the 'UV brightener' additive when using Photocolor for making prints. However, the reality was that Photocolor products were perceived as being superior.

The Photax Monocolor range of monochrome chemistry was in competition with Paterson's highly respected 'Acu' range of chemistry, typified by the famous high definition Acutol developer, formulated by Geoffrey.W Crawley and first appearing in Autumn 1963.

The Paterson Photax Group Ltd
The Arley Group went into administration in November 1990 and was the subject of a management buy-out in 1991 (before July). The Paterson name amalgamated with Photax at this time and the two became The Paterson Photax Group Ltd. Paterson's headquarters was at Elstree House, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1SD, UK, displaced a short distance from Photax Ltd based at The Gate Studios, Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1DQ though the latter was also the address for Paterson's chemistry production (until at least mid1991).

In mid-1991 (see AP magazine, June 22nd) the Paterson Photax Group's chemical division, Phototechnology (now, seemingly, written as one word), released a new C41 compatible processing kit aimed at press photographers. Dubbed the Photocolor Press Kit, the developer pack was based upon Photocolor chemistry and was capable of procesing up to nine 36exposure colour negative or monochrome chromogenic films. At the recommended 38°C, developing time was 3mins 15secs. Price was £10.

In November 1991 (and for some years before), Paterson Photax's marketing director was Mike Elsdon. The Group announced that it was providing 60 new jobs at its Tipton plant in the West Midlands. The additional workforce was required in production and assembly due to the popularity of the new Benbo Trekker tripod along with the 1991/92 Interfit and Courtenay studio lighting ranges, both being in great demand.

In mid-1992, AP for June 27th reported that Paterson Photax was starting a new photo school for amateurs and pros on August 22-23 at Studio Accessories of Blackpool. Courses to feature all aspects of photography, with prices at £75 for one day of £150 for a weekend, incl. accommodation. The full product range available for use and purchase.

By 1993, the Paterson Photax Group had apparently amalgamated at what had previously been the Photax HQ address, viz: Gate Studios, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1DQ, but this address was vacated by 1996 and the total business was then consolidated in Tipton, in the UK West Midlands. But part of the Group's operations had been located in Tipton for some time prior to 1996; certainly they were connected with the town of Tipton in November 1991 (see announcement by Mike Elsdon, above) and maybe as early as 1988?

Richard Stevens comments that cash flow continued to be an issue within the Group and Paterson Photax folded again in 1996 (though he had left in 1995). On 5th June 1996, PR Newswire, on behalf of the Paterson Photax Group, announced "RECEIVERS APPPOINTED AT PATERSON PHOTAX"

"Stephen Hancock from the St Alban's office of Price Waterhouse has been appointed joint administrative receiver of The Paterson Photax Group Limited. The business manufactures and distributes, both in the UK and overseas, a wide range of photographic products and darkroom equipment. The business is based in Tipton in the West Midlands and employs approximately 125 people. Operations in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, ceased earlier this year when the company consolidated its business in the West Midlands. The company was formed through a management buy-out in 1991. Annual turnover is approximately £5.5m. including sales under the Photax, Paterson, Courtenay, Benbo and Photocolor tradenames. Mr Hancock said:"We are hoping to continue trading whilst seeking an early going concern sale. We believe the products are good and the tradenames well regarded. We already have interest in the business and I am hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved."

By 1998, Paterson (with Photax and Photo Technology) was trading as the Paterson Group International, an IMPRESS GROUP company, and the Group's offices were located at Stafford Park 1, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3BT. I believe the remnant Photo Technology chemistry was distributed from Telford, but other Group offices remained in Tipton, W.Midlands. A 1998 Paterson Acuprint FX-17 instruction leaflet bears the address: Paterson Group International Ltd, Vaughan Trading Estate, Tipton, DY4 7UJ, England.

The previous Photax (née Photo Technology, née Johnsons of Hendon) Monocolor monochrome chemistry was marketed as 'Scales Brand' chemistry, apparently packaged as an economy range, to avoid direct conflict with Paterson's own 'Acu' range. "Aimed at students and other users on low budgets", the Scales Brand range appeared in January 1994.

Interestingly, the 'Scales Brand' monochrome chemicals also had the brand name 'Phototec', but this is believed to be an abbreviation of 'Phototechnology', and not related (?) to the 'Phototec' that operated as an independent Group in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Phototec bottle of Unitol (shown right) was referred to, within the 1998 Paterson catalogue, as being "the well known developer from the long discontinued Johnsons' chemical range."

At this time, the Photo Technology colour formulations entirely supplanted Paterson's own colour chemistry, and the well known and respected Photocolor name was being fully exploited. The Photocolor range had expanded to also encompass the new RA-4 colour print process (starting from early 1992) as well as still suppporting the previous EP-2 colour print process.

The range of colour chemistries advertised by the Paterson Group International was then Photocolor II, Photocolor FP, Printmaster RA, Printmaster RA Ambient, Photocolor Chrome Six 3+ and Photocolor Chrome 'R'. These were individually described as below:

Photocolor II - the original formulation for C-41 colour negative film developing. By adding a few mls of print additive to the developer it can also process EP-2 colour paper. "Suitable for C-41 films and EP-2 paper... still a very popular process."

Photocolor FP - Suitable for developing C-41 films and RA-4 process colour paper. 'FP' stands for 'Film and Paper'. This chemistry was available in early 1992 from (then) The Paterson Photax Group Ltd, The Gate Studios, Station Road, Borehamwood, Herts, WD6 1DQ, who claimed it to be one of the first products suitable for home processing of the 'new' RA-4 paper. "The same solutions used to process RA4 prints can be used to process your next film or more any order with no additives. British chemistry at its best ! A real breakthrough". Tested by Practical Photography magazine in April 1992 "A terrific process. Easy to use, performs marvellously & gives super results".

With regard to Photocolor FP, Alan Frame informs me that "In the late 1980’s I approached Mike Elsdon at, then, Phototechnology, to tell him that I had developed an advanced system which would process not only C-41 colour negative films (a near universally applied Kodak process), but could also process the relatively new RA-4 colour negative papers. This system had been deemed impossible, for technical reasons, by both Wesley Hanson of Eastman Kodak ('the father of Kodacolor film') and Robert Hunt, head of research at the Kodak Research Laboratories at Harrow".

The technical difficulties that had to be overcome, were:

Fujicolor negative film was not entirely compatible with the Kodak C-41 process.

Chemicals used for processing C-41 film poisoned the workings of RA-4 colour paper.

You could get a colour image on Kodak RA-4 colour paper, however with Fujicolor RA-4 paper there was hardly an image at all.

If colour papers were processsed first, the resultant solution was unsuitable for subsequently processing C-41 colour negative films.

"These problems were overcome with the release of Photocolor FP". There was no print additive with Photocolor FP, as was required with Photocolor II, and this made possible a processing cycle of e.g. prints-film-prints or film-prints-film i.e. in ANY ORDER. The earliest kits required the use of a very small additive which corrected and adapted the FP chemistry for Fuji use. Subsequently, because of the advances made in Fujicolor, possibly spurred on by its non-compatibility with Photocolor FP and consequent loss of sales, the Fuji film and paper emulsions were slightly 'tweaked' by them.

Printmaster RA - Only for RA-4 paper and fully exploits the paper's fast processing time, viz. 45secs at 35C, though useable between 30C and 40C. 'RA' stands for 'Rapid Access'. Introduced autumn 1995; a 3litre kit can process 180 10" x 8" prints (9m2 of paper area). Cost £14.99 incl. VAT. By spring 1996, Printmaster RA chemistry was available as Printmaster 'RA PROFESSIONAL' in a fully replensihable 6 litre kit.
Printmaster RA Ambient - Similar to the earlier EP-2 process Photocolor RT. Just for RA-4 paper but can be used between 15C and 25C. Photocolor Printmaster RA Ambient Temperature was introduced in January 1996. Sold in 1.5litre kits for £9.99 and 3 litre kits for £17.99. Previously, from winter 1992, there had been Photocolor Masterclass for developing RA paper
There is also:
Photocolor Chrome Six 3+, a new formualtion of the original Chrome Six, for all E6 process slide films. The improved 3+ was introduced in autumn 1995, a quick and easy 3-bath process (with optional stabilizer). 35mins from start to finish. Available in 600ml, 1200ml, 5litre and 15litre kits. The 3 bath process combined the reversal and colour developer baths, plus combined the bleach and fix baths.
In Winter 1992 Photo Technology introduced a full Six bath 'Masterclass' kit (six-bath E6 is the 'standard' way of processing E6 films).
Photocolor Chrome 'R' a 3-bath porocess compatible with R3 papers for making direct positive colour prints from slides.

By 2002 the Paterson Group International had become Paterson Photographic Ltd, located at 4 Malthouse Road, Tipton, West Midlands DY4 9AE (mid-2006 becomes 2 Malthouse Lane). At that time, Photocolor colour chemistry was still available together with an extensive range of darkroom equipment and 'Acu' monochrome chemistry. However, the Phototec 'Scales Brand' economy range monochrome chemistry was no longer mentioned and Phototec was just a name for 100ASA and 400ASA 35mm b&w films, suited to the "quality but economy conscious photographer". The pictures below were extracted from Patersons web site in April 2005.

Paterson (née Photocolor) colour chemistry

Paterson monochrome 'Acu' chemistry changed to this new red packaging from Spring 2001 while sold by The Impress Group, Stafford Park 1, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3BD

Phototec as a monochrome film brand.
Paterson Acupan 200ASA bridges the gap.

During early 2006, Paterson's Technical Manager Roger Parry reported that:
".. our chemistry sub-contractor has closed down its manufacturing plant. We are attempting to find an alternative contractor to mix our formulations. News of the problem has resulted in a run on demand for our chemistry and we now have only stock of a very limited range of our chemistry products. Hopefully our search for a new supplier will be successful and the chemistry will re-appear."
This hope must have extended to all the Paterson chemistry range, because both 'Acu' monochrome and Photocolor colour chemistry was still shown on the Paterson website as late as May 2007.

Then, in Amateur Photographer magazine for 21st April 2007, there appeared an announcement "Germans save British photo chemistry."
"Paterson has re-launched its Acu range of black & white chemistry thanks to a German manufacturer. After the closure of its contractor's UK manufacturing plant last year, Paterson has been inundated with calls from photographers concerned at the loss of their favourite chemistry. A new German contractor has now been appointed to mix the unique 'Geoffrey Crawley' formulations. These include an improved version of Aculux that produces fine-grain negatives for both conventional enlarging and scanning." There are three types of developer, all available in 1litre botles priced £6.99. They are Aculux 3 (fine-grain film developer), FX-39 (high-definition film developer) and Acugrade print developer. There is also Acufix, the 'High Speed Fixer' at £5.99.

But no Photocolor colour chemistry any longer. Photo Technology Ltd products seem to have disappeared. Subsequently, the Paterson website was modified to reflect this change in chemistry supply.




This page last updated: 17th January 2019