John Blundell

BSc, AMI Chem Eng
01/09/1929 – 21/06/2017


John Blundell Born Rayleigh Essex.


Burnage High School, Manchester.


National Service in Royal Marines.


Won first prize in the string class for his cello playing in the competition run during the Festival of Britain at the Wigmore Hall run by the British Federation of Music Festivals.


Laboratory assistant attending night school.


Received BSc in Chemistry at Manchester University.


Joined Lankro chemicals as a junior research chemist . Studied chemical engineering at night school at UMIST.


Married Jean Soni.


Awarded AMI Chem. Eng.


Appointed Assistant Plant Manager at Lankro.


Manger of the General Chemicals Dept.


Son Christopher born.


Left Lankro to become Technical Director at Manro Products, North Manchester.


Started own business: Crewe Chemicals, Ettily Heath near Sandbach, in 1970. This company proved extraordinarily successful for a number of years, winning many awards, during this time he set up Crewe Pac 1975 which was intended to be owned by the employees, also he built Pentagon Chemicals, a large factory in Workington as well as building a factory in India.


Crewe Chemicals went bankrupt with John losing the other companies too. John’s vision of running his own chemical company was however undimmed and for a year another suitable site was sought and John engaged in research work in a laboratory at his home in order to raise finance. An end plot on a semi derelict site in Middlewich was purchased and through the eighties a new company, Agrotech, which focused principally on chemical recovery work was built.


Agrotech international was sold to BIP in 1992. Funds from the sale of Agrotech enabled the building of Centec International Limited, a showpiece factory aimed to be an active demonstration of good practice to the industry and with a large concert hall intended to be of benefit to the community. John and Jean also embarked on a marine research project based at Fort Belan near Caernarfon on the coast in North Wales.

1990’s 2000’s & 2010’s

During Centec’s initial year’s a frustratingly limited amount of work was found, also a reluctance was encountered by larger companies to any assumption of suggestions of change to the often less than perfect practices inherent in the industry. In time however Centec International has become a successful firm, particularly in dealing with the recovery of petrol mixed with diesel, a process which has been a mainstay of Centec’s work, together work on fine chemicals integral to the Chemical Industry.

Centec is the culmination of John’s life’s work, a vision realised through his own dedication and perseverance along with that of a number of colleagues who have shared his vision and worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition. A debut concert in March 2011 was held in the community concert hall seated within Centec’s newly finished North Wing.

Sadly in 2017, John died of heart failure after a brief period of illness. His legacy continues at Centec and Fort Belan.

John had many interests, particularly music, he, his mother, father and sisters had at one time formed the hub of a small orchestra in Manchester. He was a keen cellist who loved playing chamber music and he and his wife Jean played music with friends and constituted the ‘bottom half’ of a string quartet. John particularly loved playing Beethoven quartets, also at one time he played the French horn in an amateur orchestra and at a later time turned enthusiastically to, (attempting to) learn difficult pieces of music on the piano. His interests included gardening, which was done with an experimental twist and water gardening which led him to design a spectacular water garden at his home, he took a keen interest in the fish with which he filled the ponds he designed, both at his home and at Centec. At one time he was also a keen chess player.

John’s interest in fish led to the purchase of Fort Belan by the Menai Strait in North Wales initially this was set up by John to research the possibility and effectiveness by which the restocking of bass fry may be undertaken using natural resources. Within the Fort a room was set aside as a schoolroom and a teacher employed to further the seas studies of the local children.

Many concerts and many chamber music weeks have taken place at the Fort, these and other events have been largely organized by Jean, with John typically playing cello with friends late into the night.

Centec remains a family company looking forward to fulfilling John’s original vision.