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A Recognised Collection of National Importance

Home > Family Histories > Occupations & Trades > Coolerman


Henderson's Paraffin Wax Cooling Apparatus R10-00364 Henderson's patent paraffin wax cooling apparatus. The wax-rich oil fraction was refrigerated within the main drum of this apparatus, causing wax flakes to form which were physically removed by rotating scrapers. A coolerman worked in the wax extraction department at the oil refinery.

Crude shale oil had a high proportion of wax which had to be separated from the heavier fractions of oil. This was usually achieved by refrigeration of the mixture allowing the physical removal of flakes of wax from a rotating drum.

Many paraffin process workers suffered from skin disorders as a result of working in clothes saturated with oils and waxes. Upper arms and ankles inevitably became heavily soiled, resulting in skin infections, growths and cancers. Scrotal and facial cancers were also reported, often with fatal consequences.

Wages & Working Hours

In 1958, an Agreement Between the Scottish Shale Oil Companies and the National Union of Shale Miners & Oil Workers records that a coolerman earned between 29s 4d and 30s 4d per shift. Day workers worked an average of 44 hours per week (5 days one week and 5.5 days the next week). Three shift or double shift workers worked a 6 day week of 48 hours.

Paraffin Wax Cooling Shed at Pumpherston Refinery R10-00299 Paraffin wax cooling shed, Pumpherston Refinery, circa 1950. Molten wax was cast into slabs within galvanised trays. The flow of wax would cascade from tray to tray until all trays were filled then left to cool and form solid wax slabs.



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We are happy to licence use of many images, extracts, and other resources of this website under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial licence (Scotland). See full copyright statement. Such material should be attributed to Almond Valley Heritage Trust and, where practical, a hyperlink provided to www.scottishshale.co.uk.