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Published: 25 July 2020

By Andy Ross

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The Atlas Dyeworks

The colour we now know as "magenta" was created artificially by chemists working with new aniline dyes.

Almost simultaneously created in France and England in 1859, the dye was originally called "fuchsine" in the former and "roseine" in the latter. The English version was renamed "magenta" after the Battle of Magenta in Lombardy and became a commercial success.

Walking around London in the lockdown and subsequent easing we are finding many new things. This week the discovery was of the blue plaque variety, this one celebrating the site of The Atlas Dyeworks near Elephant and Castle which is where magenta was created. Nothing of the original building remains, from what we could see, but the site is commemorated with the blue sign, and here on the London Remembers website. The text on the sign reads: "1859-68, at Victory Place. The Atlas Dyeworks helped start a world industry under Simpson, Maule & Nicholson, who pioneered a family of dazzling Magenta-based dyes; thus showing a way to create both families of useful compounds, & new jobs here in science." A fascinating titbit of London's history.