Coal Oil in North Wales, 1866

type: Beyond Scotland - Wales

Liverpool Daily Post
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On the Manufacturing of Coal Oil as conducted in North Wales


(A. Norman Tate was a member of the Liverpool Geological Society, and worked for the Coppa Oil Co. Ltd.. In 1863 he published "Petroleum and its products")

Mr. A. Norman Tate read a paper "On the Manufacture of Coal Oil as conducted in North Wales," remarking that oils were not recent production. Mr. Tate proceeded to say that mineral oils were known and used by the ancients for illumination and other purposes, that these were probably the oils which exist ready formed In the earth and which we know petroleum. Patents for manufacturing oil from coal and bituminous minerals were granted as early as 1694, bat the oil was not manufactured on an extensive scale until Mr. James Young of Manchester, secured his patent for manufacturing paraffin oils; but the production did not increase to any great extent until the expiration of this patent, Mr. Young instituted legal proceedings against those persons who infringed his rights. The patent expired in October, 1864, and this was the signal for the commencement of numerous works in Scotland, North Wales, and North Staffordshire.

The pioneer of the oil trade in Flintshire was Mr. Hussey Jones, who had the cannel on his property at Fryddyn carefully investigated, and, finding it suitable for oil making, started a company, and made contract with Mr. Fernie, who erected the works now the property of the Flintshire Oil and Cannel Company Limited. The example of Mr. Jones was soon followed by other coal proprietors in Wales and oil works sprung in all directions in the quiet, beautiful vale of Mold, transforming it into a busy manufacturing district

During the latter part of 1864, and all through 1865, there was fever of anxiety to embark in the oil trade, and the greatest activity was observable in the district; but the general stagnation of trade, and also the large import of petroleum during the present year have for a time cooled the ardour of intending oil makers, and instead of rushing into the trade with the full expectation of making a fortune in " lees than no time," persons not in the business are cautious how they embark in it, and of those who are in it many wish themselves out it. Mr. Tate remarked "to the former I would say, don't abandon the idea of going into the business; and to the latter, be direful not to relinquish a good thing. The oil trade of North Wales will prove sound and profitable business yet, and no long time will elapse before this takes place. Like most new businesses, its early days have been characterised by seasons of extreme buoyancy, and seasons of great depression. It is now passing through the latter, but unless I am very much mistaken, a bright day will soon begin to dawn, and the trade will find itself upon a safe and certain basis.

There is, however, one point of considerable importance, which should not be overlooked, and that is the price the raw material—the cannel. At the time the colliery proprietor appear to to be getting the greatest share of the profits, more than their fair share. The price paid for cannel in North Wales is higher in comparison than prices paid for oil minerals in other places, for instance, in Scotland and Staffordshire, and it strikes me forcibly that unless the colliery proprietors the Wales oil district reduce their tariff, they will compel oil manufacturers to select other places they will find themselves in more favourable position. It should be understood that only one or two oil makers raise their own cannel. These, of course secure both the profits of the coal proprietor and the oil manufacturer, and stand in very favourable position; but the majority of the oil makers in Wales have to purchase their own cannel. After these introductory remarks, the various forms of apparatus employed in the manufacture were described. and the processes of manufacturing the crude oil and refining it were also spoken of, and the properties of the products described.

Mr. Tate illustrated his subject with a number of drawings, and exhibited various specimens of coal oils.—A cordial vote of thanks was passed to the talented lecturer, after which the proceedings terminated.

The Liverpool Daily Post, 9th November 1866