Scottish shale Scottish shale

West of England Fire Clay, Bitumen & Chemical Co. Ltd.

Company number:
Registered in England No.5903 re-titled Cornwall Chemical Co. Ltd. 1876
Share capital:
wound-up 1877
Registered office:

perhaps 8. Old Jewry. London, E.C,

An ambitious enterprise established to combine the mining and processing of ores, the manufacture of bricks, tiles and fireclay products, and production of a patent asphalt paving material; all taking place in the Calstock area of Cornwall. Kimmeridge shales were to be shipped to Cornwall to provide bitumen for the paving material, and to produce oil products. The company was promoted by Stephen Henry Emmens who also served as the company's managing director. Emmens, Brothers & Co, who held the lease to the Kimmeridge mines, were to supply shale and other products.

The company, subsequently re-titled the Cornish Chemical Co. Ltd, developed an Arsenic works at Greenhill near Calstock, supplied by its local mines, and also a substantial fireclay works. No evidence has been found however that significant quantities of bitumen and oil products were manufactured by the company.

Following failure of the company, the Greenhill works were taken over by Henry Gibson Lord.

  • Newspaper references

      Registered under the Companies' Acts, 1862 and 1867.

      Capital— £200,000. in 40,000 shares of £5 each, payable as follows :— £1 on Application, £1 on Allotment, £1 on 29th February, 1872, £1 on 31st March, 1872, £1 on 31st May, 1872.

      Applicants wishing to pay up in full on allotment will receive discount at 5 per cent, per annum.

      Should no allotment be made the deposit will be at once re-turned in full.

      The Dividends for five years, from the 1st January, 1872, are guaranteed by the Vendors (with deposit of Securities in the hands of Trustees) to be not less than 10 per cent, per annum.


      • The Right Hon. Lord Wentworth.
      • Horatio Nelson Lay, Esq., C.B.


      • The Right Hon. Lord Wentworth.
      • Sir Charles T. Van Straubeazee, K.C.B.
      • Horatio Nelson Lay, Esq., C.8., 89, Gloucester-terrace, Hyde Park.
      • Samuel Saunders, Esq., Director of the Merchants' Marine Insurance Company, Limited.
      • (With power to add to their number.)

      Consulting Engineer. G. Preston White, Esq., C.E.. 18, Park-street, Westminster, London.

      Solicitors. — W. Tatham and Son.

      Auditors. — Messrs. Turquand, Youngs, and Co.

      Bankers. The National Provincial Bank of England and its Branches.

      Secretary (pro tem.)— W. C. Crane, Esq.

      Offices. 8, Old Jewry, London, E.C.



      This Company is formed for the purpose of acquiring and consolidating several valuable mineral estates and other properties, with the view of developing the same by the establishment of a Chymical Manufactory upon a scale sufficiently extensive to ultilze the whole of the available products. The properties thus agreed to be purchased consist of—

      1. Two estates situate in the neighbourhood of Calstock, Cornwall, and containing extensive deposits of a mineral, from which is being manufatured the best description of Fire-Bricks and similar articles, and which has been recently discovered to be suitable for the production of extremely hard and durable Asphalte Pavements, as well as of various chymicals. These estates contain about eight and twenty acres respectively, and are of freeliold and copy-hold tenure respectively.
      2. A large establishment, recently erected on the estate of eight acres for the manufacture of Fire-Bricks, and now in full operation, consisting of Engines, Tramway, Drying Sheds, Patent Kilns, Pressing Machines, &c. The produc tion of the works on their present scale may be reckoned at 5,000,000 Bricks and Pipes annuall ; yielding at the moderate estimate of 30s per 100 a nett profit of £7500 per annum.
      3. Two Patents for the manufacture of Artificial Stone and Asphalte Pavements from the Calstock Mineral. By these processes (invented by Stephen H. Emmens,CCL) a bituminous rock may be produced from particles of granite superior in tenacity and durability to most of the Asphaltes now in use the basis of which is limestone. Also, where from considerations of convenience it is desirable to use the ordinary Asphaltes, Dr. Emmens's system of construc- tion is still applicable as affording the means of providing a practically indestructible foundation, and a surface upon which horses may retain a sure foothold in all states of the weather. Accordingly, it is reasonable to anticipate large returns from this branch of the Company's operations ; more especially as owing to the advantages possessed by a material manufactured wholly from English products, instead of being brought from foreign countries, as is the case with existing Companies, a large portion of the trade can be commanded at profitable rates, and looking to the fact that in addition to roadways the Asphalte can be applied to the construction of floors and roofs impervious to fire or damp, as well as to railway platforms, foundations of houses, and many other purposes.
      4. A Patent for the Purificition of Bituminous and Carbonaceous Distillates, a process also invented by Dr. Emmens, and dealing with a subject, not only of the greatest commercial importance, but of special value to this Company, as enabling them, whilst manufacturing the Bitumen required for Asphalte work, to obtain large supplies of lucrative chymical products, such as Naphtha, Benzol, Paraffin, Lubricating and Burning Oils, Dyes, &c. A satisfactory and economical method of accomplishing this object has long been sought for ; and there can be little doubt of an enormous profit being realized to the Company from this source.
      5. A Contract for the yearly supply during 5 years of 10,000 tons of the celebrated Blackstone, Shale, Alum Mine, and Reniform Limestone found at Kimmeridge, in the Isle of Purbeck. The Lessees of this property have contracted to deliver the above quantity at Calstock Quays on payment of 10s per ton, being the estimated cost price, including freight ; and the value of this contract to the Company will at once be seen when it is mentioned that the minerals in question, besides producing large quantities of Bitumen, Cement, and the articles enumerated above, will also yield several bye-products of great value in the preparation of metallic pigments and other substances, while the refuse of the manufacture forms a rich manure equal in fertilising value to many varieties of Guano.
      6. A Contract for the yearly supply for a similar period to the Company of 300 tons of Crude Antimony and 1000 tons of Argentiferous Lead and Copper, yielding not less than 15 ozs. of silver to the tou. This supply, which is required for the utihsation of matters that would otherwise be treated as waste, will be delivered at Calstock Quays at the price of £2 per ton beyond freight, an arrangement which leaves a large margin of profit to the Company.

      It will thus be evident that the whole of the proposed operations of the Company are intimately allied, and that the system upon which they have been arranged is to proceed from the raw material to the manufactured article, and at every step to utilize the waste products. By this means a two- fold effect is produced ; on the one hand a maximum rate of profit is attained, and on the other the subdivision of results is rendered similar to that which obtains in the most successful chymical establishments of the day, where, as in the present Company, the area of production is so extensive as to be practically independent of the ordinary vicissitudes of com- merce.

      The Directors refer generally to the Reports and Explanation, to be obtained on application, as justifying them in putting for- ward the above grounds as those upon which they confidently anticipate a highly successful business ; but they may here summarize the careful estimates which have been made as to the probable yearly profit of the Company's workings, viz :

      • Fire- Ware and Bricks and Tiles for Ornamental Architecture ---- £12,500
      • Artificial Stone and Cement -------------------------------------------------- £6,028
      • Asphalte Work-------------------------------------------------------------------- £5,300
      • Mineral Oil and Allied Products and Manure from ditto ------------- £10,411
      • Smelting and Miscellaneous Chymicals-------------------------------- £12,550
      • ................................................................................................................... £47,389
      • Allowance for bad debts, depreciation of Plant, &c, say-------------- £7,389
      • Profit ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- £40,000


      The sum which it has been agreed to give for the properties described above is £100,000 ; one-half to be paid in cash, and one-half in fully paid-up Shares. It has also been agreed that the Vendors shaU guarantee dividends of 10 per cent, per annum upon the paid-up Capital for the time being during five years from the 1st of January next. The Vendors have con- sented to this, on condition that they shall be entitled to-one- half of the Royalties or purchase moneys derived from any Licenses tbat may be granted to other Companies or persons for employing the Patent processes above described ; and they have agreed, as a material security for their guarantee, and for the due execution of their contracts, to transfer to the Com- pany a Copyhold Mineral Estate of 32 acres (valued at £32,0.0), situate near Calstock, and a similar property of 20 acres (valued at £20,000), together with Consols to the amount of £12,000. It will, accordingly, be seen that every care has been taken to protect the interests of the Shareholders in the matter.

      The Directors have also the pleasure of stating that, as a part of the Contract. Dr. Emmens has agreed to act for five years as Manager of the Company with a seat on the Board, and to advise the Directors upon all matters connected with his Patents and their allied processes. The Contract entered into is dated the 20th day of December, 1871, and is made between Stephen Henry Emmens of the one part, and William Camp Crane, on behalf of the Company, of the other part.

      Application for Shares must be made upon the printed Form, which, together with the Deposit, may be lodged at the Bankers of the Company, or may be forwarded to the Local Broker, MR. GEORGE BRIDGER, 33, EAST PARK TERRACE, SOUTHAMPTON, or to the Secretary at the Offices of the Company.


      Mr. Bridger having, while personally inspecting the Mine with the General Manager on Saturday, the 30th ultimo, inquired what would be the position of the Company under the most unfavourable circumstances that could by any possibility arise, has much pleasure in publishing the following satisfactory reply : —

      West of England Fire-clay, &c, Company, Limited, 8, Old Jewry, London, E.C, Oth January, 1872.

      George Bridger, Esq., Southampton.

      "My dear Sir,— ln reply to your inquiry respecting the position of this Company in the worst possible case that could happen, i.e., in the event of the Vendors failing before any profits were made, I have to point out that the affair would stand thus : —

      • "Cash paid to Vendors £50,000 "
      • " Less cash value of £12,000 Consols, say £11,000
      • " Net cash payment £39,000
      • " Property in Company's hands : —
      • " Ist Estate in Trust, valued at £32,000
      • "2nd " " " 20,000 "Ist „ purchased 20,000
      • "2nd " " (with Brick Works) ?? 26,000
      • "3 Patents " " 29,000 "
      • 2 Contracts " " 55,000
      • (total) 182,000 "
      • " Deduct one-half for chances of forced sale 91,000
      • " Nett cash realisation £91,000 "

      "In addition to this . it must be borne in mind that the contracts mentioned operate as first charges upon the Leases and the Concessions under which the Vendors are working the valuable properties producing the Blackstone, Metals, &c, and therefore the Company would, in all probability, be able to enforce an assignment of such Leases and Concessions in priority to all other Creditors, as up to the present time no other charge has been given or contract entered into by the Vendors."

      " Under these circumstances you will, I think, agree with me that the Shareholders are protected in the amplest manner. "

      I remain, dear Sir, yours very truly, (Signed)

      Stephen H. Emmens, General Manager.

      "P.S. — I may mention that negociations are in progress for securing to the Company a perpetual continuance of the supplies of raw materials beyond the first five years, and on advantageous terms. (Signed) " S. H. E."


      The Directors of the West of England Fire-clay, Bitumen, and Chymical Company, Limited, have fixed the PUBLIC VIEW DAY for SATURDAY, the 20th instant, when the attendance of any gentlemen desirous of viewing the property is respectfully invited. Cards to view, explanation of the Company's processes, estimates, prospectuses, and every information can be obtained on application to GEO. BRIDGER, Local Broker. 33, East Park-terrace, Southampton, January 12, 1872.

      CLOSING OF SHARE LIST. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that all applications for Shares in the West of England Fire-clay, Bitumen, and Chymical Company, Limited, must be forwarded to me on or before WEDNESDAY, the 24th instant. GEO. BRIDGER, Local Broker. 33, East Park-terrace, Southampton, January 12th, 1872.

      From the Hampshire Advertiser, 13th January 1872


      The Southampton papers announce the arrival that port of the first cargo of Kimmeridge coal, on its way to one of the London gas-works.

      Western Gazette, 12th April 1872


      A Cornish Industry Developed.—About three years since, when the demand for labour in the mines near Gunnislake decreased, and times were said to gloomy, an energetic company with a heavy capital, knowing of the deep beds of good fire clay which abound in the locality of Hingston Down, purchased a sett, erected kilns, and commenced fire-brick burning. Since then other companies have been formed, one of which, with a capital of £200,000, are combining with brick-burning, general smelting, the extraction of mineral oils from shale, and the manufacture of bitumen, asphaltes, and other substances; extensive works for this purpose being erection. There are now four fire-clay firms in full work manufacturing clay into fire-bricks, gas retorts, tiles, crucibles, and various other articles; while a fifth company has nearly completed the erection of a large Hoffman's kiln on their own estate for the same purposes. The total number of operatives already employed at these various works amount to nearly 400.

      The Celebrated Stourbridge clay gradually becoming exhausted, great demand is being made on the fire-clay found in this neighbourhood; the quality is now acknowledged equal to Stourbridge, and great difficulty is found by the companies supplying the orders as quickly as they are received. The trade has aided considerably by the construction of the East Cornwall Mineral Railway, running from Kelly Bray, near Callington through some and near others of the fire-clay setts to Calstock on the Tamar, thus affording easy means of transit for the conveyance of the manufactured goods to the river, whence they are shipped to all parts; and for the supply of the works with coal, a commodity very largely consumed.

      The employment of horses in drawing heavy loads to and from other directions is to a certain degree superseded by a traction engine belonging to the Calstock Fire-clay Company, which, with its two waggons, takes a load of 10 tons over the steepest hill at a rate of three to four miles hour.

      The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 26th April 1873


      WEST OF ENGLAND FIRE CLAY BITUMEN and CHEMICAL COMPANY (Limited). Second Half-yearly Dividend at the rate of 10 per Cent, per Annum. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, That the above mentioned DIVIDEND will be PAYABLE at the offices of Messrs Emmens Brothers and Co., 8. Old Jewry. London, E.C, on and after MONDAY the 24th day of February inst, between the hours of twelve and four, who are also authorised to receive applications for shares. By order of the Board. GEQRGE EMMENS. Secretary. COAL at 25s. per TON.

      The DIRECTORS of the WEST of ENGLAND FIRE CLAY, BITUMEN and CHEMICAL COMPANY (Limited) are prepared to CONSIDER APPLICATIONS for KIMMERIDGE COAL at the above rate delivered in London, or at 15s. f.o.b. at the Mines of the Coast of Devonshire. Full particulars may be obtained at the offices of the Company. No. 8, Old Jewry, London, E.C. GEORGE EMMENS, Secretary.

      The Morning Post, 15th February 1873


      Failure of a West Country Miner, with Liabilities of £200,000.

      Dr. S. H. Emmens, of the Emmens United Mines, near Callington, well known in connection with what is termed the Nascent process of treating ores, of which he is the patentee, and the founder of the West of England Fire, Clay, and Bitumen Works, near Calstock, having got into financial difficulties, a first meeting creditors in proceedings for arrangement by liquidation or composition was held on Thursday, at the Cannon-street Hotel, London. The liabilities of the estate are very heavy, amounting in the aggregate over £200,000, and although the statement of accounts presented shows a balance of £20,000 nominally in Dr. Emmens's favour, it has yet to be seen how the matter will work out. The affairs are of a very complicated character, and more or less involve the interests generally of the whole district of Calstock, Gunnislake, and Callington, where a number of heavy debts, chiefly for goods supplied, are owing. Should the estate not realise the expectations which are entertained, the results in that locality will be disastrous.

      North Devon Journal 3rd June 1875


      A Batch of Claimants at Callington.

      Messrs. D. Horndon and C. N. Marshall held a special meeting at Callington, on the 17th inst., for the purpose of disposing of 85 summonses taken out by men employed at the Greenhill Chemical works, 46 of which were against the Cornwall Chemical Company, and 39 against Mr. Henry Gibson Lord, of London, the present proprietor of the works. Mr. Nicolls, of Callington, appeared for the men; and Mr. Smith, solicitor, of London, represented Mr. Lord. Mr. Nicolls, said that on the 19th of June an apparent transfer was made in the affairs of the company, and a board was affixed bearing the name of H. B. Lord and Company.

      Up to that date a large sum was owing to the men for wages, but what he now sued for was the amount due subsequent to the 19th of June. A few days after the transfer the men received a subsist with a bill headed the Cornwall Chemical Company, and no reference whatever was made to Mr. Lord. The next payment was also made without referring to the subsist paid, but at a subsequent payment the subsist was deducted from the amount, it being stated that such subsist was paid by Mr. Lord and not by the old company, while the men contended that no reference was made by Mr. Lord when the subsist was paid that it was on his own account. They believed it to be towards money due to them from the old company.

      Several witnesses were examined and stated that Dr. Emmans, the manager, and Mr. Lord were at the works when Mr. Lord addressed the men expressing his wish that they would continue to work on for a time and that he would treat them well, as he had lent the money to the old company for their benefit. This money the witnesses stated referred to the subsist which had been deducted from Mr. Lord's account. Mr. Smith complained of the manner in which Mr. Lord had been treated in the matter, and said that without any expostulation with Mr. Lord he had been served with a large batch of summonses. He did not deny that the men had done the amount of work — the only question was whether the subsist deducted in Mr. Lord's account with the men was paid on account of work done for Mr. Lord, or whether such subsist was money advanced by Mr. Lord for the old company. He, Mr. Smith, submitted that subsist paid was on Mr. Lord's own account, and in support of his case called Dr. Emmans and Mr. George Emmans, the former stating that Mr. Lord had advanced money for the old company on previous occasions, but the present advance was on his own account, proceeded to read copies of the correspondence to which Mr. Nicholls objected. The bench, having sat until half -past six o'olock, adjourned the cases to Monday.

      The magistrates, Messrs. D. Horndon and C. N. Marshall, met again at ten o'clock on Monday. The same solicitor appeared', Mr. Nicholls, of Callington for the men, and Mr. Smith, of London, for Mr. Lord. The respective advocates were engaged for several hours in examining and cross-examining witnesses, when the Bench adjourned for luncheon, In the interval it was agreed by the parties interested to pay the men the sum in dispute against Mr. Lord with costs, and the cases against the Chemical Company were adjourned to the next Petty Sessions, the representative of the company stating that means would be taken to settle the matter by paying the said the money due to them before that time.

      The Royal Cornwall Gazette, 26th August 1876


      In the Matter of the Cornwall Chemical Company Limited (late the West of England Fire Clay, Bitumen, and Chemical Company Limited), and in the Matter of the Companies Acts, 1362 and 1867.

      NOTICE is hereby given, that a petition for the winding up of the above-named Company by Her Majesty's High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, was, on the 22nd day of July, 1876, presented to Her Majesty's High Court of Justice by Samuel Root, of Rosindell-terrace, Leytonstone, in the county of Essex, Merchant, a creditor of the said Company; and that by leave given by the Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Malms, the said petition is directed to be heard before him, the said Vice-Chancellor Sir Richard Malins, on the 2nd day of August, 1876; and any creditor or contributory of the said Company desirous to oppose the making of an Order for the winding up of the said Company under the above Acts, should appear at the time of hearing by himself or his counsel for that purpose; and a copy of the petition will be furnished to any creditor or contributory of the said Company requiring the same by the undersigned, on payment of the regulated charge for the same.

      Crook and Smith, 173, Fenchurch-street, London, Solicitors for the Petitioner.

      The London Gazette, 25th July 1877