It was founded in 1933 by Albert Younglove Gowan (8/5/1883-6/1/1965), of the Alpha Portland Cement Corp., one of the largest American cement companies. According to Cook, "it is said that he came over here on holiday, saw the disorganized state of the industry, decided that there were opportunities for profitable reorganization and stayed. Although he was probably concerned to become an efficient manufacturer of cement in this country, it appears that he saw an opportunity for fairly rapid profits to be derived from entering an industry prior to its effective organization. . .".
Gowan began with the acquisition of Rodmell in 1933. He bought Oxford in March 1934, and changed his company name to Alpha Cement Ltd. In July 1934, Cliffe was acquired, and Kirton Lindsey in 1935. In May 1936, Metropolitan, still under construction, was acquired. Having thus acquired a company that was of about the same size as Tunnel, second in size to Blue Circle, Gowan in March 1938 sold the company: 26% to Tunnel and 74% to Blue Circle. The company continued as a joint subsidiary until 1949, when the Tunnel share was acquired by Blue Circle. The plants were immediately completely assimilated into the Blue Circle organization although Alpha continued on paper as a subsidiary until 1964.
Gowan went on to become president of the Lehigh Portland Cement Co.