Scottish shale Scottish shale

Mineral Oil Co.

1860 or 1861
Registered office:

Saltney Works?

The partnership of Fernie, Robinson, and Carter were referred to as the "Mineral Oil Company" throughout the "Great Paraffine Trial" of 1864 in which James Young and his partners took action again Ebeneezer Fernie, (and subsequently Joseph Robinson and William Carter), for infringement of his patent. It is unclear whether the partnership had used the the Mineral Oil Company title prior to the court case.

Joseph Robinson was Deputy-Chairman of Ebbw Vale Company while William Carter was a director of the Millwall Iron Works Company and the Ebbw Vale Company. Both appear to have business associates of Fernie since 1860 when plans were first laid for oil works at Leeswood and Saltney but seem to have had little practical involvement in operation of the business. Agreements signed in 1861 and 62 to purchase cannel coal from William Charles Hussey Jones were signed only by Fernie and Carter. Ownership arrangements for the various properties seems unclear, some accounts suggesting that the Saltney and Leeswood were separately owned. Perhaps this confusion was a deliberate ploy as James Young was put to considerable effort to identify Fernie's business associates in order to bring charges.

Fernie's testimony at the trial stated that the initial intention of the Mineral Oil Company was to produce only crude lubricating oils, rather than refined paraffin, however other evidence pointed towards a clear intent to directly compete with Young in the production of refined oil products. Crude oil appears to have been produced from plain cannel at Leeswood and taken by rail to Saltney for refining. Curly shale was also sent to Saltney for retorting.

All three partners subsequently became directors of the Flintshire Oil & Cannel Co. Ltd formed in 1864 to take forward the interests of the Mineral Oil Company.