Scottish shale Scottish shale

Binnend Oil Co. Ltd.

Company number:
Scottish Company No. 837
Share capital:
24th July 1878
1st June 1888
Registered office:

21 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh

Oil works:

The Company was created to purchase and acquire the shale oil works at Whinnyhall, near Burntisland.

The Binnend Company was one of George Simpson's enterprises: incorporated with a nominal capital of £130,000 in 1878, all of the share were issues with £3 called on each, but unpaid calls totalled £3,480. In 1880 the shares were reduced to £3 each, fully paid. On 17th October 1881, a special resolution to wind up was adopted, and the winding up was complete on 1June 1882. In 1881, the works and associated lands were sold to John Waddell for £60,000: £20,000 for the lands and £40,000 for the works. It seems possible that money was available to enable the shareholders to recover their investment. Scotland's First Oil Boom, The Scottish Shale-Oil Industry, 1851-1914 by John McKay, Pages 103-104.

In a number of cases, imprudence on the part of directors was compounded by vendor cupidity. The career of George Simpson is illuminating in this respect. The Binnend company in 1878 paid Simpson £22,000 in cash and £12,900 in shares for works and mines capable of dealing with only 80 tons of shale per day. Scotland's First Oil Boom, The Scottish Shale-Oil Industry, 1851-1914 by John McKay, Page 215.


  • References

      During the summer sitting of the Court of Session, their Lordships of the First Division on various occasions heard counsel on the application of Mr Kerr, a proprietor of ground in the neighbourhood of Burntisland, Fifeshire, to interdict the Binnend Oil Company from polluting the waters of a stream which passes their works, and runs through his property. After a great deal of litigation, the company undertook to adept such measures as would obviate the nuisance complained of by Mr Kerr, and accordingly a remit was first made to Mr Cunningham CE, and latterly owing to Mr Cunningham's absence in London, to Mr Carter, CE to report upon the works necessary for this purpose. One of the schemes recommended by these gentlemen was the erection of evaporating tanks, but these the company were only willing to erect upon the failure of another scheme which they thought would more thoroughly remove the offensive matter than evaporation. This scheme was to convey the matter by pipes from the works along the public road to Burntisland, and there discharge it into the sea at the point where the sewage of the town is got rid of. Negotiations were entered into between the company and the Local Authority of Burntisland in order to obtain the necessary permissions, but as this was said to have been refused, the First Division, during the expiring days of the last session granted the company two months in which to erect the evaporation tanks, and they remitted to Mr Carter to report upon the new works to the Lord Ordinary on the bills, who was empowered, if the work was not satisfactory, to grant interdict.

      The period granted having now expired, Mr Pearson, who appeared for the Complainer (Mr Kerr), yesterday moved Lord Rutherford Clark, the judge presiding on the bills, to grant interdict in respect Mr Carter had now reported that the Binnend Coal Company had failed to carry out the necessary works. In his report Mr Carter said the respondents had informed him that the reason of this was that they had now got the consent of the Town Council of Burntisland to lay the proposed pipe through their lands to the sea, and also of the Road Trustees to lay the pipe along the public road from the works to the lands of the Town Council. He reported, however, that certain works which he believed to be necessary in the event of the pipe being laid to the sea had not been executed by the respondents, and that on two or three occasions since the rising of the Court, when he had visited the works, the stream had been considerably polluted.

      Mr DRUMMOND of Drummond & Reid SSC who appeared for the company, stated that after the rising of the Court he had resumed negotiations with the Town Council, and that the latter body had resolved to agree to the laying of the pipes through the lands of the town to the sea, and that the company had fallen back on what was admittedly the getter of the two schemes for doing away with the pollution. They had at the same time taken measures by temporary evaporation to prevent new polluting matter reaching the stream. Mr Drummond further stated that Mr Wallace, Town Clerk of Burntisland, was the son-in-law of the complainer, and that therefore the necessary writings for giving effect to the agreement resolved upon by the Town Council had been going through the hands of the Council not in tone with the settlement of the question; but that latterly a draft agreement had been submitted by the company to Mr JPB Robertson, and the revised draft was to be considered by the Council that (Thursday) evening.

      Lord RUTHERFORD CLARK said he was not inclined to do more than continue the case till next day to allow the company to get a certified copy of the resolution at which the Council might arrive, and although the production of the resolution of the Council agreeing to give the required power would not necessarily make him refuse interdict, the non-production of it would make him grant it.

      The Glasgow Herald, 17th September 1880

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