Scottish shale Scottish shale

E.W. Binney & Co.

Operations commenced in 1850
The Bathgate partnership was dissolved in 1864
Registered office:

Bathgate Chemical Works

Oil works:

One of three companies established to operate the Bathgate Chemical Works (the others being James Young & Co. and E. Meldrum & Co.), The firm of E.W. Binney & Co. appears to have been principally concerned with the operation of the Bathgate works and the manufacture of oils. On dissolution of the "Bathgate partnership" in 1864, Edward Binney maintained ownership, on his own account, of colliery and oil works interests at Methil and continued to do so until his death in 1881.


  • Newspaper references
    • PARTNERSHIP DISSOLVED - Bathgate Chemical Works, December 31, 1864.

      THE Copartnership hitherto subsisting between the Subscribers, the sole Partners, in the business of Paraffine Oil and Paraffine Manufacturers, &c., at Bathgate, Glasgow, and elsewhere, under the Firms of E. W. BINNEY & CO., and E. MELDRUM & CO., respectively, Expires this day, and is now DISSOLVED. The business will in future be carried on by Mr Young on his own account, and he is authorised to collect all outstanding debts and discharge all outstanding liabilities of the Copartnership now Dissolved.

      ED. MELDRUM.
      EDW. WM. BINNEY.

      JOHN GAIR, Writer, Falkirk, Witness. ALEX. BIRNIE, Book-keeper, Bathgate Works, Witness.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 3rd January 1865


      To the Editor of the Scotsman

      SIR, In your paper of the 7th inst is a report of a speech of Dr Lyon Playfair M.P. Made at a dinner at Addiewell wherein the gentleman is reported to have said - "He must add that the whole success of the industry has been due to the indomitable energy and the science, as well as the practical aptitude of his friend Mr. Young." Now, as a late partner of Mr Young and Mr. Meldrum, I think it only a matter of duty and justice on my part to state that the success of this manufacture from coal is fully as much due to the indomitable energy and the science, as well as the practical aptitute of Mr. Meldum as of Mr. Young, for the former was the managing partner of the firm of E.W. Binney & Co. at Bathgate for fourteen years, whilst Mr. Young and myself were partially of wholly non-resident partners.

      I remain yours & C.

      E.W. Binney

      Ravenscliff, Douglas, Isle of Man, August 9, 1871.

      Scotsman, 14th August 1871


      In his thesis "The Social History of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry" Dr John McKay writes:

      Before the end of 1850 a new works was under construction at Bathgate for the firm of E W Binney & Company. This was composed of Young, Meldrum and Edward Binney, a Manchester lawyer who had assisted in the establishment of (Young's earlier) enterprise, and who had, directly and indirectly, provided much of the capital for the new works.

      The success of the enterprise may be attributed to the blend of available talents. Binney was a lawyer and was able to provide or secure the necessary capital. Young and Meldrum were practical chemists. Young had identified the opportunity and the process necessary to exploit it. Meldrum was in charge of the day to day management.

      In the first ten years of its existence the firm enjoyed a virtual monopoly of the oil trade largely because of rigorous enforcement of Young's carefully drawn patent specification. The firm had the advantage of a rising market. Industrial growth and the development of railways and steam navigation provided outlets for lubricating oils while the lighter fractions found uses in the growing rubber and paint industries. Burning oil was used for domestic lighting and this was encouraged by the development and sale of suitable lamps".

      The cannel coal, on which the business depended, was a limited resource and disagreements between the partners arose. Young, acting independently of his partners, leased mineral rights to oil-shale near West Calder as an alternative resource. This action created further ill-feeling and the partnership was dissolved in 1864. Young bought the Company's Bathgate Chemical Works and began building Addiewell Chemical Works to exploit his oil-shale rights near West Calder.