Spill 2016-12-06T05:35:20+00:00


(1832 – 1887)


Daniel Spill was born in Winterbourne in Gloucestershire, England on 11 February 1832. He married at the age of 18, his bride was 15.

Although he trained as a doctor he joined the business of his brother George. The firm of George Spill & Co. manufactured waterproof textiles in Stepney Green, East London by spreading rubber onto cloth. The material was much in demand for capes and groundsheets for soldiers in the wet conditions of the Crimean War.

Spill became aware of Parkes’ claim for the waterproof qualities of Parkesine probably at the 1862 exhibition. Negotiations led to an agreement not only to use it for waterproofing but also to develop Parkesine in the works of George Spill at Hackney Wick.

In 1866, the Parkesine Co. was established with Daniel Spill as works manager and Parkes as managing director. The Company did not prosper and was wound up in 1868, Spill taking over most of the stock. He formed the Xylonite Co. in 1869 to carry on the business but that did not fare much better and was wound up in 1874.

Undaunted by these failures, Spill established Daniel Spill & Co. in Homerton, continuing to make Xylonite and Ivoride. This enterprise succeeded in that others entered into an agreement with Spill in 1877 to form the British Xylonite Co. in the same premises. This company did go on and prosper.

Spill’s later years were largely occupied in a long legal battle in America with Hyatt and the Celluloid Corp. for infringment of his patents. The lawsuit was filed in 1875, found in his favour in 1880, but reversed in 1884. Spill returned to England and in 1887 died of diabetes at the age of 55.

For more than 20 years Spill had doggedly pursued the goal of making a successful business from Parkes’ invention.