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Home > Companies & Works > Scottish Oil Companies > Walkinshaw Oil Co. Ltd.

Walkinshaw Oil Co. Ltd.

Constitution Limited company,
Company number Registered in Scotland No. 993
Share Capital Established with a share capital of £120,000, increased to £160,000 in 1884
Date of Incorporation 14th October 1880
Date of Dissolution 27th February 1890
Registered Office 104 West George Street, Glasgow, (43 West Regent Glasgow from 17th June 1887)

The Walkinshaw Oil Co. Ltd was established on 14th October 1880 through an amalgamation of James Liddell & Co., proprietors of East Fulton oil works, and the Abercorn Oil Co., proprietors of the Inkerman Oil Works. The new company took possession of both oil works, various mines, mineral leases, workers housing, railways, Inkerman brickworks, and other assets of the old companies.

The prospectus of the new company was widely advertised. John Wilson, a Glasgow tube-maker and subsequently MP for Govan, was the major shareholder and served as Chairman throughout the life of the company. Large shareholdings were also maintained by Walter MacLellan, the Glasgow iron merchant (who was also on the board of the Abercorn Oil Co.), and by other members of Glasgow merchant community.

The company invested substantially in re-building the Inkerman works site, establishing a refinery with capacity to process crude oil bought in from other producers as well the that produced in the Inkerman retorts. Following two years in which dividends were paid, preference shares were issued to raise additional funds, which were applied to acquire ironstone interests at Abercorn and Douglas from Merry & Cunninghame, supposedly to increase their stock of workers housing. Dealings with Merry & Cunninghame over mineral rights were later to result in legal action that threatened to wind up the Walkinshaw Company.

Deteriorating market conditions, and problems with the output and quality local shale quickly led to financial difficulties. The company were keen to establish a base in the richer shales of the east of Scotland, from where crude oil might be manufactured and shipped back to Inkerman for refining. In 1884 newspapers reported negotiations to secure shales in the Shotts area held by the Shotts Iron Co. (perhaps Hillhouserigg?), the next year there were discussions to secure Whitehill shale (perhaps Whitehill near Airdrie, or more likely in Whitehill, Rosewell, in Midlothian). Neither reached a conclusion.

Crude oil production appears to have ceased at East Fulton in about 1885, and the site cleared by 1889. From c.1886 there was no further crude oil production from Inkerman works, and the refinery there fell silent from c.1887, remaining on a care and maintenance basis until wind-up of the company.

The aspiration to link with shale interests in the east of Scotland was finally achieved through a merger with the Hermand Oil Company Ltd based at Briech Oil Works. The Walkinshaw Oil Company was dissolved on 27th February 1890 (and wound-up 17th March 1892) and its interests taken over by a new company; The Hermand Oil Company Ltd. on 11th March 1890. Walkinshaw Chairman John Wilson became a director of this new company.




Company Logo and Seal

No letterhead or official seal known. Possibly a cartouche on a mining plan was more widely employed.




The Walkinshaw Oil Company are known to have produced lubricating oils, burning oils, and paraffin scale, much of which was sold under contract. No evidence has emerged of their marketing oil products directly to a domestic market. The company's household coal was however advertised (presumably to ship-owners) in the Belfast Newsletter during 1885

The company pioneered the use of acid tars as boiler fuel in their own locomotive and for a fuel for shipping. It might be imagined that oil-firing trials on the steamship "Fern" were arranged by director Walter MacLellan, who was also chairman of the Glasgow & Londonderry Steamship Company.

Additional Resources


It is currently reported that the Walkinshaw Oil Company has acquired a lease of a new shale field in the Shotts district. The ground was formerly held the Shotts Iron Company. The dip of the shale is said to be very great, and present men are engaged boring in order to learn the capacities of the field.

The Dundee Courier, 22nd August 1884


The directors of the WALKINSHAW OIL COMPANY (LIMITED) have issued the following report to their shareholders:-

The directors of this company, and the directors of the Hermand Oil Company (Limited), have had under consideration a suggestion of joining the undertaking of this company with the undertaking of the Hermand Company. The Hermand Company have shalefields at Breich, and other extensive shalefields at Hermand and on properties adjoining. These are held on leases, with the exception of the Mid-Breich property, which belongs to them as proprietors. They have 120 retorts erected and at work at Breich, and 160 retorts erected and now at work at Hermand. They recently created an additional share capital to erect a refinery, but while the shares were all taken up at a premium of £5, only £1 per share has been called up on these additional shares. This company have their refinery but no shalefield. The directors of the two companies have, after some negotiations, agreed to terms to be recommended to their respective shareholders. To carry these out, it is proposed to incorporate a new company, to be called "The Hermand Oil Company (Limited)," with a nominal capital of £350,000, consisting of 350,000 shares of £1 each. The Hermand Company will receive in respect of its undertaking 75,000 of the shares of the new company, issued as fully paid up, and 200,000 shares issued a with 15s per share paid up. This company will receive 40,000 shares of the new company, to all be issued as fully paid up. The capital of this company in issue consists of 12,000 ordinary shares of £10 each, all paid up, and 2800 preference share of £10 each, all paid up (except a small arrear of call, payment of which is expected at once), and the shares of the new company falling to this company will be divided by giving the holders of the preference shares ten shares of the new company for each preference share, and the holders of the ordinary shares one share of the new company for each ordinary share of this company. The uncalled capital on the 200,000 shares of the new company will amount to £50,000, and the two companies have on hand balances forming working capital of about £15,000. If the unappropriated 35,000 shares of the new company were put in issue, a further sum of £35,000 would be provided. The directors consider the position of the new company will be very strong, and that the undertaking may be expected to earn satisfactory dividends on the capital of the new company. The formal procedure will be under section 161 of the Companies Act, 1862.

Glasgow Herlad, 4th February 1890


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