Flintshire has Struck Oil, 1865

type: Beyond Scotland - Wales

Western Daily Press
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"Looker-on," in " Rylands' Iron Trade Circular,"' November 11, 1865, states that " having some personal experience of petroleum, its discovery, its raising, and its refining," he gladly accepted instructions to proceed to Flintshire on Monday last, for the purpose of examining certain statements respecting the production of oil in Flintshire.

Passing Cefn, he says, without stopping, although strongly tempted to halt - not by the beauties of the vale of Llangollen, but by a remarkable pit of Cannel coal at Plas Kynaston, just the railway side - l pushed for Padeswood, a small station about two miles from Mold, in Flintshire, and landed at once in the very heart of the mineral oil region. T'was as if I had fallen asleep in the train at Chester, and woke up amongst the "Oil Wells" at Enniskillen (Canada West) or Pennsylvania.

There was the identical mud, about the same quantity of smell (slightly diminished in strength), the same run of land, the same rough people, the same sort of fires and furnaces, cauldrons, retorts, kettles, stew-pans for oil and distilleries – the same heaps of lime, the same carboys of sulphuric acid, everything the same but the primeavel forest, for the trees are fast disappearing. Here were the "oil wells", will all their wealth of production, minus their uncertainty in production, and the never-failing crop of open, cheating and miscellaneous roguary that spings up from the fattening soil around them. The stuff they make here is actually petroleum. It has the green colour, the smells and gives out to the same treatment, the same products, saving that it less rich in turpentine, or that the turpentine it contains has less volatile spirit. The taste is the same, and - well I know it - the effect of tasting it exactly similar; again reserving the medicinal effect of extr. terebinth, which my medical readers will comprehend.

Curiously enough, at the door of the very first refinery I visited there stood a young girl who had been sent by her mother to beg a small phial of coal-oil for her chest. Now, I remember seeing the Mayor of London (Canada West) sell a bottle of it for a shilling to a girl at the door of his refinery for similar purpose; and I have over and over again known it to be taken for chest and lung diseases, and heard it almost sworn to as having curative effects equal to cod-liver oil. The Indians, indeed, use it for their spavined horses, and those rheumatisms to which the uncomfortable dwelling savage (a weedy lot are those Red Indians, in spite of all that novelists and travellers tell you) is always liable. It was known a century ago in our Pharmacopaeia as " Seneca Oil," and if you sleep in a shirt saturated with it, as they do in the Toronto Hospital, your aches and pains will surely disappear. There it was in Flintshire, running out of the receiver from the retort, unmistakeably crude petroleum; and this, in my opinion, settles the question for geologist as to its character, and the method of its original production in nature.

The Coppa Company's works, which lie close to the Leeswood Colliery, from whence, believe, they draw a portion of their great supply, are neighbouring to the station, and cover seven acres of ground. They are like gas works on a small scale, only the tanks are underground. They have 198 retorts, each of 15 cwt. capacity, and 16 stills, so that they possess a capacity of producing 1,500 gallons, equal to 120 tons of oil weekly. The shares of this company are chiefly held, I think, in Birmingham, and they have been doing a comfortable 10 per cent, business for the last three years, through all the difficulties attendant on the first experiments.

The Western Daily Press, 17th November 1865