Scottish shale Scottish shale

Linlithgow Oil Co. Ltd.

Company number:
Registered in Scotland No.1351
Share capital:
26th April 1884
15th December 1904
Registered office:

122 George Street, Edinburgh (from 26th April 1884)
4a St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh (from 16th January 1886)
123 Hope Street, Glasgow (from 10th October 1890)
7 Royal Bank Place, Glasgow (from 16th November 1896)

linlithgow prospectus.jpg

The Linlithgow Oil Company Ltd was one of a number of new oil enterprises established during the prosperity of the early 1880's, inspired in part by the success of the Broxburn Oil Company Ltd. The promoters of the Linlithgow Oil Company were mainly Fife coalmasters including Andrew Landale, previously a director of the Capeldrae Coal and Oil Co. Ltd. The company set out to exploit reserves of shale in the Ochiltree and Champfleurie estates to the east of Linlithgow - the first time that shale had been worked in the lands north of the Bathgate Hills. These seams were described in the company prospectus as being similar to those worked profitably at Broxburn and Dalmeny, and the decision was made to adopt the Henderson retort, which had been critical to the success of the Broxburn company, rather than the more modern Young and Bielby retort that was being adopted by most other new works at that time.

The Company's operations were planned on an ambitious scale with a share capital of £200,000. This funded the construction of a crude oil works and refinery at Champfleurie, coal and shale mines, housing at Kingscavil and Bridgend, a four mile branch railway, and the lease of Champfleurie House with associated shootings. The refinery was built with a generous capacity and from the outset crude oil from other companies was processed alongside the output of Champfleurie crude oil works. Initially crude oil bought from Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd was processed; later the works were to refine much of the output of Holmes and Breich oil works. A candle works were added to the refinery soon after opening.

The decision to adopt the Henderson retort proved an unfortunate mistake. The local shales proved less rich in oil that those of the Broxburn area, or had been anticipated in early tests. While the Henderson retort extracted slightly more oil that the Young and Bielby retort, it failed to recover much of the ammonium sulphate which became the major source of profit from shale. By the time this was recognised and acknowledged, the company had little remaining capital to replace retorts and efforts to raise additional capital through preference shares met limited success.The company paid a 10% dividend on ordinary shares in 1885, but no dividend was declared throughout the rest of the company's existence.

The company continued piecemeal repairs and experimental improvements to the existing retorts for many years, but by the turn of the 20th century these were worn out. The failure to raise capital to construct new, efficient retorts ultimately led to the collapse of the company. The Linlithgow Oil Company's problems also affected crude oil suppliers - the Holmes Oil Company Ltd closed in 1901 and the New Hermand Oil Company Ltd collapsed in 1903. Many of the mineral rights of the Linlithgow Oil Company were acquired by James Ross & Company and mining resumed to supply shale to the Philpstoun Oil Works.

  • Directors, Officers, and Shareholders
      • THOMAS SPOWART, Esq., of Broomhead, Coalmaster, Dunfermline
        • Board member 1884- 88, Chairman 1885-88
      • ANDREW LANDALE, Esq., Coalmaster, Lochgelly
        • Board member 1884-1902, Chairman 1888-1900
      • WILLIAM DRYSDALE, Esq. of Kilrie, Kirkcaldy
        • Board member 1884-?
      • Dr. ARTHUR DRYSDALE, Esq. Dunfermline
        • Board member 1895 -1902, CHAIRMAN 1900-1902
      • THOMAS GILL, Esq., Dunstane, West Coates, Edinburgh
        • Board member 1884-?
      • JOHN BROWNLIE, Esq., Elgin and Lassodie Collieries, Dunfermline
        • Board member 1884-1902
      • WILLIAM PATERSON, Esq., Publisher, Edinburgh
        • Board member 1884-?
      • Sir CHARLES TENNANT, Baronet, The Glen, Innerleithan
        • Board member 1890-1902. Sir Charles Clow Tennent (1823-1906), Scottish businessman, industrialist and Liberal politician. President of the United Alkali Company and Chairman of the Union Bank of Scotland, Grandson of chemist and industrialist Charles Tennant
      • ROBERT RUSSELL PRENTICE, 6 Mayfield Terrace, Edinburgh, Retired Farmer
        • Board Member ?-1902
      • JOHN YOUNG, Duntrane, Bearsden, Manager
        • Served as Company Secretary prior to election to the Board 1900-1902


        • Recruited as Works Manager c.1890, but left the company's employment c.1892 following blame for major deficiencies in operating practice. Described as "a trained chemist who came with a good reputation". A James Snodgrass is a named as works manager of the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd's Tarbrax Oil Works in a description published in April 1890
        • Previously Mining Manager, appointed as Works Manager c.1892 following the departure of James Snodgrass. A photograph of James Beveridge and his wife Margaret is held in the collection together with a tray presented to him by the Chamfleurie and Ochiltree Workmen's Friendly Society


      List of principal shareholders according to the last list lodged with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies prior to suspension of shares - Reproduced in The Scotsman, 5th February 1902.

      ORDINARY SHARES - number of shares

      Charles Anderson, Fettykill, Leslie, Papermaker - 240

      William W. Anderston, Greenside, Edinburgh, bank agent - 170

      John Brownlie, Lassodie, colliery manager - 280

      Dr. Broadfoot, 6 West Blacket Place, Edinburgh - 100

      William Bissett and another, 47 Hollybank Terrace, Edinburgh - 150

      J. Balmain and another, British Linen Bank, Glasgow, agent - 200

      R. Cox (Cheine & Tait), 67 George St. Edinburgh - 512

      Adam Clapperton, Gorebridge, merchant - 280

      Thomas W. Clapperton, W.S., 4a St Andrew's Sq. Edinburgh - 150

      James Dewar, Lassodie - 72

      Arthur Drysdale M.D., Dunfermline - 212

      Mrs R. Dennis, Brixwold, Bonnyrigg- 100

      A. Drysdale, surgeon, and others, Dunfermline - 480

      Mrs Jane Easton, The Square, Penicuik - 110

      A.D. Ferguson, Pentland View, Dunfermline - 75

      Alexander Fraser, Violet Bank, Dunfermline - 337

      William Fraser, 47 Maxwell Drive, Pollockshields - 196

      D. Ferguson and another, 191 Ingram St. Glasgow - 250

      Thomas Gill, West Coates, Edinburgh - 100

      Thomas Gilles, Woodside, Linlithgow - 100

      R. Gourlay and another, Bank of Scotland, Glasgow - 90

      R. Gilmour and another, 18, St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh - 90

      James Haldane, 24 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh - 72

      James Houston, Marchfield House, by Dumfries - 100

      Captain A. Howling, 24 Albany St. Leith - 230

      D.R.W. Huie and others, Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh - 430

      C.H. Cuthbertson, 92 St Vincent St. Glasgow - 140

      David Hamilton, 224 St vincent St. Glasgow - 100

      James Inglis, Margate St. Dunfermline - 160

      Rev. D.B. Jardine, Thornhill - 202

      James Lindsay, 20 Market St. Edinburgh - 80

      Andrew Landale, coalmaster, Dunfermline - 202

      William Leishman and others, Cauldie House Linlithgow - 143

      Mrs George Leishman, W. Newbigging, Norham - 90

      James Lindsay, Drydenbank, Loanhead - 250

      Alexander Mathewson, Constitution Rd. Dundee - 100

      James Martin, Priestfield, Ladybank - 80

      Henry Mungall, 20 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh - 115

      R.T. & A.J. Moore, 156 St Vincent St. Glasgow - 350

      Edward Maughan, 5 Randolph Terrace, Edinburgh - 70

      James McRosty, solicitor, Crieff - 70

      J.A. Nasmyth, coalmaster, Dunfermline - 100

      R.R. Prentice, 6 Mayfield Terrace, Edinburgh - 280

      John Paton, Tillicoultry - 150

      Gavin Paul, &, Ravelstoun Park, Edinburgh - 100

      Lord Roseberry, Dalmeny Park, Edinburgh - 500

      Walter G. Rough, 24 George Square, Glasgow - 150

      Alexander Rennie, Sandbridge Villa, Innerleithan - 100

      William Stewart, St. Mary's St Kirkcudbright - 200

      Rev. R.D. Shaw, Lauder Rd. Edinburgh - 70

      John Saunders, 71 High St. Dunfermline - 200

      James T. Smith, Dulloch, Inverkeithing - 2472

      J.M.S. Shaw, 18, St Andrew's Sq. Edinburgh - 180

      Francis J. Tennant, Hindford House, North Berwick - 126

      Sir Charles Tennant, The Glen, Inverkeithing - 1455

      Robert Thomson, 34 Upper Kirkgate, Aberdeen - 205

      David J. Wilson, Bank of Scotland, Perth - 127

      Wilfred Williams, 52, Newhall Street, Birmingham - 150

      Peter Wilson, Broxburn - 262

      James Wood, 28 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow - 100


      Charles Anderson of Fettykil, Leslie - 420

      James Anderson, North, Leven- 300

      Edward Bruce, W. Mayfield, Edinburgh - 294

      John Brownlie, Lassodie, Dunfermline - 405

      John Christie, 8 North Lindsay St. Dundee - 201

      John H. Cooper and another, Commerial Buildings, Dunblane -250

      Charles Carlow, 20 Eglinton Crescent, Edinburgh - 70

      Mrs. E.L. Dods, Hedderwick, Dunbar - 105

      James Dalrymple, Woodhead, Kirkintilloch - 140

      John Dennis, Dalkeith - 300

      Arthur Drysdale M.D., Dunfermline - 1994

      Thomas Gill, W. Coates, Edinburgh - 175

      Henry Gourlay, Bank of Scotland, London - 140

      Hugh Gilmour, 18, St Andrew's Sq., Edinburgh - 709

      James Haldane, 24, St Andrew's Sq., Edinburgh - 126

      Rev J.B. Jardine, Thornhill - 126

      W.F. King, Russell Place, Trinity, Edinburgh - 150

      David Lamont, Dunfermline - 100

      William Leishman, Islington, London - 200

      Andrew Landale, Coalmaster, Dunfermline - 220

      William Mercer, Rose Place, Earlston - 125

      Dr. James Morris, Dunfermline - 175

      Henry Monteith 39, Castle St. Edinburgh - 150

      Alexander Mathewson, Terrace House, Dundee - 175

      R.T. & A.G. Moore, 155 St Vincent St.n Glasgow - 613

      Robert Morrison, Accountant, Perth - 149

      James McFarlane, Canmore St. Dunfermline - 370

      William McLellan, Morningside, Edinburgh - 2300

      James A. Nasmyth, Middlebank, Dunfermline - 175

      James Ogston, Norwood, Aberdeen - 100

      James Paton, 177 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh - 100

      James Paton, Tillicoultry - 600

      John Paterson and brother, 42 Blacket Place, Edinburgh - 300

      Robert R. Prentice, 6, Mayfield Terrace, Edinburgh - 333

      John Paterson , 42 Blacket Place, Edinburgh - 100

      A.F. Roberts, Thornfield, Selkirk - 200

      David Russell, Silverburn. Leven - 500

      Lord Roseberry, Dalmeny - 1465

      C.S. Romanes, 50 Frederick St. Edinburgh - 200

      Christian Salvesen, 29 Bernard St., Leith - 300

      James T. Smith, Dulloch, Inverkeithing - 4425

      E.T. Salvesen, 40 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh - 100

      John Sanders, 71 High St. Dunfermline - 100

      R.H.J. Stewart of Physgil, Wigton - 505

      Robert Tullis, Auchmuty, Markinch - 500

      Sir Charles Tennant. The Glen, Innerleithen - 4000

      Mrs R. Wilson, Maxwelltown - 250

      J.L.W. Watt & Sons, Partickhill, Glasgow - 125

      John Young, 7 Royal Bank Terrace, Glasgow - 100

  • Products
    • It was announced at the 1886 AGM that "agents had been appointed in Ireland and England, as well as Scotland", but nothing more is known of these arrangements. Throughout the 1890's advertisments appeared in Scottish provincial newspapers for "Imperial White safety burning oil".


      Advertisment from The Falkirk Herald, 3rd January 1894

  • Prospectus and registration records
    • Prospectus of the Linlithgow Oil Company Ltd, dated September 1883

      Registration Records transcribed from dissolved company records held by the National Archives of Scotland.

  • Transcripts of public meetings of the Linlithgow Oil Company Ltd
    • Outline

      • 1885 AGM - Two shale mines, a colliery, four benches of retorts, and the mineral railway were now in operation, 112 houses (at Kingscavil) had been built and the refinery was under construction.
      • 1886 AGM - Sales agents had been appointed throughout Britain, consideration was being given towards establishing a candle works. A dividend of 10% announced
      • 1887 AGM - Market conditions were difficult due mainly to overseas competition; a wax sweating plant was now complete and candles were being produced
      • 1888 AGM - Conditions remained difficult throughout the industry and much production had been lost to strikes. Agreement over the market price of wax was a cause for optimism - a new mine had been sunk to the Dunnet shale
      • 1889 AGM - It was recognised that the continued use of Henderson retorts was limiting the income from sale of Ammonium Sulphate. A shareholder's committee would investigate the situation.
      • 1890 EGM - The shareholder's committee report that construction of new Young and Bielby retorts was the only sensible course of action. There were calls that Sir Charles Tennant become Chair
      • 1890 AGM - Two benches of Young and Bielby retorts were to be constructed. Sir Charles Tennant joins the board and appoints as advisor, William Fraser of the Pumpherston Oil Company Ltd. Company offices had been moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow
      • 1891 SGM - A meeting to call for additional capital
      • 1891 AGM - The new retorts were increasing ammonium sulphate yields, market conditions were improving, but savings were needed in the cost of production and further working capital was required.
      • 1892 AGM - The expectations of the previous year had been unfulfilled. The Works Manager was blamed for the shortcomings and had been replaced. A shareholder described the company as a disgrace.
      • 1893 AGM - The market was depressed due to the collapse of the Mineral Oil Association, but conditions were improving and the works were in good order
      • 1894 AGM - Market conditions continued to deteriorate
      • 1895 AGM - A small surplus had been made, but no dividend declared. The coal-miner's strike had added considerably to costs
      • 1896 AGM - There had been an improvement in prices, but the volume of materials sold had declined
      • 1897 AGM - A loss was announced due to the low prices of ammonium sulphate and wax products, however savings were being made in wages and royalties paid.
      • 1898 AGM - Market conditions remained depressed, but it hoped to operate without a loss that year. Improvements made possible by adoption of Bryson or improved Henderson retorts were being considered.
      • 1899 AGM - Continuing market difficulties and the company had been unable to install new retorts, unlike many of its competitors
      • 1900 AGM - A net profit had been achieved for the year, and an experimental set of retorts were to be built and, in response to rising coal prices, the company would re-open the Houston Coal.
      • 1901 AGM - It was warned that the future of the company was bleak unless retorts were completely renewed.
      • 1902 Circular - Calling an extraordinary general meeting to consider wind-up of the company.

      1885 Annual General Meeting

      The first annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company, Limited, was held yesterday in Dowell's Rooms. Edinburgh - Mr Thomas Spowart, chairman of the company, presiding. There was a good attendance. The report, which was held as read, stated that the directors had to congratulate the shareholders on the progress that had been made in the opening and fitting of the shale and coal mines, and also in the erection of the plant and machinery required for the works. Regarding the erection of the works and machinery, the directors had exercised considerable care, visiting the works frequently, and taking a personal supervision of the contracts and accounts. The retorts and refining works had been erected with all the most recent improvements, and meantime were capable of distilling 250 tons of shale, and of refining the products of 500 tons of shale daily. The two shale mines now completed were capable of yielding an output of over 500 tons per day. After mature deliberation, the directors resolved to have direct railway communication with the works, and a line had now been constructed which intersects the whole mineral fields belonging to the company. Acting on the principle which they were assured would be commended by the shareholders as judicious, the directors had not taken credit for the value of the stock of shale or coal which was on hand at 31st March, when the balance-sheet was made up, in a revenue account, but had credited capital with the value of these; due provision being thus made for any possible depreciation on the plant or on the minerals worked. The report then proceeded to refer to the proposed issue of the remaining 6000 shares of the company, which the directors recommended should be issued pro-rata to the existing shareholders at par.

      The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said he had to congratulate the shareholders on the progress the works had made since last year. They had had some few little difficulties to contend with, but none of them of a very serious character. The chief difficulty was the railway - opening up the works with the North British system at Linlithgow. The failure of the health of the contractor caused a delay of about three months, but now they had got their line completed by Messrs Stratton. It extends to nearly four miles, and was a very heavy part of the undertaking; but they could not avoid it, and they now had the advantage of having their fields opened up by a line belonging to themselves, thus securing a better outlet at more moderate rates than they otherwise could have been obtained. The railway had been open since May and was working most satisfactorily. The mineral field, which was the most important part of the whole business, had turned out entirely satisfactory. They had two, mines in full operation- one; on the estate of Champfleurie, and the other on the estate of Lord Rosebery at Ochiltree. These had been in operation for a long time. He then went on to quote from a report which the directors had obtained from Messrs Landale, Frew & Landale, mining engineers, during this mouth. It stated that one of the mines was capable of raising 350 tons of shale per day. The thickness of the shale in the two mines at present in working order is 6ft. 3in. and 6ft. They had now a colliery on the Ochiltree property, from which they expected to be able to supply the present necessities of the works in the way of fuel. That was a very exception thing regarding an oil work; but he was glad to be able to say that they were able to get coal, which meant a very considerable saving to them. (Applause.) They had four benches retorts going, and they had made arrange with Young's Company to take their crude oil. It a very good certificate as to the quality of their crude when Young's people said they wished a very much larger supply. (Applause.) They had also sold sulphate of ammonia. The refinery being erected would, he thought, be ready, with good weather, in October. The two shale mines were capable of yielding 500 tons per day; the crude shale retorts were capable of producing 250 tons per day; and their own refinery would be capable of refining 500 tons per day. (Applause.) He then adverted to the proposal by the directors to issue the remaining shares, remarking that, as they only intended to call up £8 as in the case of the existing shares, they would then have an uncalled capital of 240,000, while their borrowing powers would remain intact.

      In conclusion, the Chairman said that they had 112 houses at their Champfleurie works, and they were about to erect others on the Ochiltree property. Mr Jamieson, Elie, seconded the motion, which was adopted. Mr Thomson, Edinburgh, seconded by Mr Russell, Cupar, moved that the directors' remuneration to 3lst March last be £500. Mr Alex. Murray, Edinburgh, said such a proposal would be all very well if they were getting a large dividend, but he though; they should feel something in their hands before they voted so large a sum. The Chairman said he had no wish at present to receive any money from the company, but it had been suggested that seeing that they had given a large amount of time to the interests of the company the shareholders might take up the matter, the directors had no wish to press the matter.- It was all the same to him whether they were voted anything for their services out of the prospective profits of the company or waited until the profits were realised. (Applause.) I might tell them, not by way of; boasting, that the directors had spent in the company's business two or three days a week during the past 15 or 16 months. Mr Murray thought the matter should be left over in the meantime. Mr Thomson said he adhered to his motion, The Chairman said the directors If I would not be warranted in accepting any kind of acknowledgement on the part of the shareholders unless they were perfectly,unanimous. Mr Murray said that if the chairman put it that way he would withdraw his motion. Mr Thomson said he thought it would be better, after what I had passed, that the matters should be allowed to stand in abeyance. (Applause.) On the motion of Mr Drysdale,Mr Robt. Prentice, Skedoway, Fifeshire, and Mr Win. Paterson, publisher, Edinburgh, were appointed directors. Messrs Lindsay, Jamieson & Haldane, C.A., were re-elected auditors at a fee of £40. A Shareholder asked if it was not time the directors were putting the shares on the Stock Exchange. The Chairman said the directors had had that question under consideration, and they had thought it more desirable not to do so, as the interests of the company might be made to suffer from hostile speculation. (Applause.) A vote of thanks to the chairman terminated the meeting.

      The Glasgow Herald 29th August 1885


      1886 Annual General Meeting

      The second annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday afternoon in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh - Mr. Thomas Spowart, of Broomhead, presiding. There was a fair attendance. The Chairman moved the adoption of the report, recommending a dividend of 10 per cent. per annum, a summary of which has already been published. He said that since last meeting in August the directors had been going on with the completion of the works. The works had not been in full operation till January last, and he was happy to say that since that time everything had a been going on well and comfortably. Their products were giving every possible satisfaction. They had taken a place in the market equal to those of any other oil company. (Applause.) The accounts showed a credit balance of £6284 on the three months' working to 31st March last, and he thought that for an infant company that was not a discreditable state of matters. The costs continued to be moderate, and the work was going on steadily. The directors had set aside six per cent. for depreciation, and they thought that for a new work this was an ample allowance, when another company of very old standing only wrote off seven per cent. The proposed dividend was at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum, after carrying forward a sum equal I to £4568 per annum. The works to the extent of £45,000 had been insured, and the directors considered this amply sufficient.

      Agents had been appointed in Ireland and England as well as in Scotland, and he believed they would have as good a chance in the market as their neighbours. Their lubricating and burning oils bad already taken a high standing. The capital expenditure up to 31st March had been £135,922, and he believed their works were very well worth the sum expended on them. They had £40,000 of uncalled capital to fall back upon, and they had their debenture borrowing powers untouched, so, he thought, financially they were in a safe and sound position. It was now a well-established fact that in regard to supply of shale they could compare favourably with any similar undertaking in the country. (Hear, hear.) - They had been developing the Broxburn seam for the last two years, and so successfully that they had a very large stock of shale lying on the ground. The two mines were now in a position to put out 800 tons a day whenever it was required. Just now they were putting out over 400 tons. During the two years they had not had a single trouble or difficulty in opening up these mines. (Hear, hear.) They had got to a depth of 50 fathoms. The shale was in a very good position for working, and it was of first rate quality. Then they had the Dunnet and other seams in the Champfleurie estate, close to the retorts and near the surface, ready to be opened up whenever required. The Ochiltree estate coal mine was putting out about 80 tons a day of coal of very fair quality. The refinery, which had been supplied with the most improved machinery, was capable of putting through 700 tons a day, which meant the production of 7,000,000 gallons of crude oil per annum when required.

      The directors had carefully considered the subject of additional retorts, but they were not yet in a position to propose anything. As would be observed, they had leased the additional property of Kingsfield from the Earl of Hopetoun, which lay between the two detached portions of the Champfleurie estate. It had been of the utmost importance to secure this without waiting for a general meeting. The amount of obligation involved was very trifling, owing to the fair, reasonable, and honourable treatment of the Earl of Hopetoun's advisers. (Heat, hear.) Without this property the northern portion of the estate was quite locked up. They had negotiated for the very reasonable wayleave of one penny per ton. They hoped that the refinery would be entirely completed before the hot weather came. They had added three tanks capable of holding 100,000 gallons of oil each, and they were almost finished with another to hold 150.000 gallons. This would give ten tanks in all They were now producing 100,000 gallons of crude oil per week. In reference to the stocks in the balance-sheet, the directors had gone on the principle of putting them in at considerably under cost price. (Hear, hear.) They had been carrying on boring operations near the North British Railway for sometime past, and had discovered two of the most important Linlithgowshire seams of shale in the last bore,- close to the railway. (Hear, hear.) They were of unusually high and rich quality, and indicated that the other seams would all be found in the same portion of the estate. They had plenty of material already at present, but were none the worse of knowing what they still had. He would not enter at present on the general question of the present state of the oil trade and the depressed state of prices. They were a young company, and must look to the future. They must economise and make the best of their rich products. There was a great deal in their favour, and they must hope for better times. When those times came they would be in as good a position as any oil company in Scotland.

      Mr William Paterson seconded the adoption of the report, and corroborated the statement of the chairman. When they came upon the market it was at the very worst season of the year, and unless their products had been exceptionally good they could not have shown the dividend they did. Up to the end of January their sales were a mere bagatelle, so that the dividend had really come during February and March. The subject of scale had largely engaged the attention of the directors. By far the greater portion of the company's sales was made up by the selling of scale. Scale was now selling at a price which he did not think had ever been so low, For the last 15 years the average price of scale had been three and a half pence. Now it was only two and a half pence and there were very few buyers. Therefore the directors were seriously considering whether they could not spend a little money in the refining or semi-refining of scale, in order that their margins might be increased. They would make a start certainly in a prudent way. (Applause.) Mr Gilmour, stockbroker, said that the candle companies were making very handsome profits, and that because they were getting their material at such low prices. (hear, hear.) He thought it would be a very good plan if their company could use their material themselves. The quantity was such that it would be a very great matter. If they could raise the price of their scale by refining it or making candles he found that a profit of 1d per lb. would bring something like an additional dividend of 10 per cent. The sum would be £15,000 or £18,000 if they could get a single penny per lb. more profits. He thought the directors should look into this matter of candle making.

      The Chairman said the directors had been seriously considering this question. They were inquiring at the principal candle-works in the country, and they intended as speedily as possible to put their ideas into shape. They would not go into candle making on a large scale; they would creep before they walked. (Hear, hear.) The report was adopted on the motion of Mr Weir, the retiring directors, Messrs Andrew Landale and John Brownlie, were re-elected. The remuneration of the directors for the past two years was fixed at £750, and Messrs Lindsay, Jamieson & Haldane, C.A, Edinburgh, were re appointed auditors. A suggestion that a number of the shareholders who had never seen the works should pay them a visit was favourably considered. A vote of thanks to the chairman closed the meeting.

      The Glasgow Herald, 5th June 1886


      1887 Annual General Meeting

      The third annual general meeting Of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday afternoon in Dowell's Rooms Edinburgh – Mr Thomas Spowart presiding over a good attendance of shareholders. The report of the directors showed that the balance at debit of profit and loss account, after deducing £11142 brought forward from last year, was £2434, and to this fell to be added £1470, amount of interest on debentures and bank overdraft.

      The Chairman said – Gentlemen, we meet this year in altered circumstances for myself and my co-directors. I assure you that we regret these deeply. We have done what we could by painstaking attention to earn a fair dividend but the times have been against us. To enable you to thoroughly understand how this has come about, I would ask you to take a survey of the trade as it was three years ago when the company was formed, and compare it with what it is now. You will in this way be able to judge of the extraordinary changes, which have taken place, and how completely these have disappointed our expectations. From a trade journal for June, 1886, I have extracted the following:-" lubricating oil continues in good demand, but prices are unadvanced, and may he quoted as ranging from £7 10s to £9 10s f.o.b. for 885 specific gravity. The quotation (for burning oils) continues steady at 6d to 61/2d per gallon for finest No. 1 oils. Scales have been rather depressed during the month, and no large orders are reported. The general price is 3 ½ per lb." per lb." Taking the lowest of the figures, and proportionate prices for gas oils and scale, would give 15s 3d as the value of a ton of this company 's shale, after distillation and conversion into refined products; and if we add to this 2s 6d per ton for sulphate of ammonia, we would have in all 17s 9d per ton, Deducting from this the cost of manufacture, barrels, carriages, and other charges, which estimate at 13s per ton, there remains a profit of 4s. 9d per ton - sufficient for a dividend of 10 to 20 per cent, upon the paid- up capital of the company, after allowing for depreciation. I have quoted these figures to show that when this company was formed we had reasonable grounds for believing that it would yield good returns to its shareholders. Since that time, however, there has been a continuous reduction in values, and during the year now gone it has reached a point which places the whole trade in a very critical position.

      The question here naturally arises admitting that prices are now very low, how was it that some other companies, having superior advantages, managed to pay dividends to shareholders? We have given a reply in paragraph IV of the report. Other companies have made con-tracts for scale at higher prices than were obtainable when we came into the market, and to this exclusively we attribute the differences revealed by the published balance-sheets. With regard to burning and lubricating oils and sulphate of ammonia, our prices will compare favourably with that obtained by our competitors. It is not desirable that the present state of affairs should continue -(applause) - as no company, however well situated, can hope to earn a fair return for the money and skill and energy which are involved, We find that when, by the discovery of more economical methods of distilling shale and refining oil, it is possible to produce marketable products at reduced costs, no advantage is reaped by the shareholders, each reduction being merely used to lower the general level of prices something should certainly be done to put an end to what every business man will admit is a foolish course. No doubt there is competition with America and Russia, and the refiners in Scotland must be prepared to face it. But not merely are we doing that which is an imperative thing, but we are fighting amongst ourselves in an altogether unnecessary way – (hear, hear)- and it is quite I possible for this to be modified, if it cannot altogether be removed. (Hear, hear.) Some months ago the directors of this company took part in an effort to bring about an understanding amongst the eight refining companies. It has been an open secret that a scheme formulated in November last would have been carried into operation with, I believe, very beneficial results, but for the failure to obtain complete unanimity. One of the objects of the scheme was the restrictions round of the output of scale if it were found that the supply was in excess of the demand, From statistics, which have been very carefully prepared, it is doubtful if any diminution of output is necessary. It is not a desirable thing to restrict production, as it is better for a work to produce as much as possible. Oncost and management charges remain practically stationary, whether the output is great or small, and these are proportionately less when spread over a larger quantity. Still it is better to keep production at or under the demand, and sell at paying prices, even although the costs are higher, than to sell under costs. It is to be hoped that ere long means will be found to bring about an arrangement to which all of the companies can agree. You may rest assured that your directors will do all in their power to establish a working agreement calculated to reinstate an important industry on a profitable basis. The expenditure during the past year has been considerably larger than would have been sanctioned if we had not thought that the depression was of a temporary character The demand for mineral oils and other shale products is rapidly growing, and will continue to grow, not merely in proportion to the increase of industrial and other communities, but because of the opening up of new markets, and the discovery of new purposes to which they can be applied. I do not rely much on what we hear frequently spoken of the exhaustion of the oil resources of America, these are practically inexhaustible, for fresh fields are being daily discovered, and there is little doubt that the supplies from that country could be greatly increased if profitable prices were obtainable. Still an examination of statistics from the wells shows that for some time there has been a diminution in the quantity of oil produced; while, in spite of a large quantity obtained from Russia, exports have increased and stocks have diminished. America just now is complaining quite as much as we do of the unprofitable nature of the business, and in this fact I see some hope for the future. I may refer to the fact that in March last a bill was introduced into the Pennsylvanian legislature for the purpose of preventing undue drilling, and consequent rapid exhaustion of oil districts. The bill was recently thrown out. Its existence, however, coupled with facts to which I need not now refer, is a proof of the severity of the struggle now going on, and which is not satisfactory to producers in America, Russia, or Scotland.

      Along with my co-directors, I have carefully examined the position of this company. All that is wanted is a very slight advance in the value of our products, particularly of refined wax and candles; and we trust that advance will come. It so happened that when our works were completed the tide of prosperity was receding; but the flow will come again, and we are fully prepared to take advantage of it. With regard to the producing and refining of our oils, we are in a favourable position; and we have been able to introduce improvement in working which are giving beneficial results. The wax-sweating plant erected during the year is of a complete and satisfactory character. We are manufacturing candles on moderate scale, and shall increase it if we find it profitable to do so. This is probably the wisest course at the present time. We are converting all our crude scale into refined wax. It only remains for me to express a hope that the current year will show a decided improvement on the past. There are already signs of a better time, and I promise you that your directors will not fail to do whatever in them lies to secure the best possible results. (Applause.) I have now to move the adoption of the report and balance sheet.

      Mr ANDREW LANDALE seconded the motion.

      Mr SMITH, of Duloch, said he only held shares in this oil company, but he had rather been astonished in looking at the reports of the various meetings of other companies. He thought there had been a little want among the shareholders to strengthen the hands of their directors. The was no doubt, as the chairman had said, that it was an open secret as to the efforts that had been made to come to a better understanding among the companies. He was sorry that the majority of the companies had been frightened by the bugbear of one company refusing to join. He thought they should have gone on. He thought there was probability of a combination after the meetings of the companies had taken place. It might be said that they wished to create a monopoly but they did not want anything of the kind, They were entitled to get from the public a fair interest for supplying them with the products which they required.(Applause.) He did not think it was unreasonable that in companies such as this they should get 10 or 12 per cent (hear, hear) seeing the risk the company ran. The directors of the various companies should intimate to their managers that the latter were not fighting with their own money, but with the shareholders' money. If the managers could not get the thing to pay there should be other managers. (Laughter.) It would not be a bad thing for the managers of the various companies to meet occasionally and consult together. (Applause) The report was adopted.

      On the motion of Mr ALEX THOMSON, Messrs Spowart and Prentice, the retiring directors, were re-elected. Mr PETER GLENDINNING moved that Messrs. Lindsay, Jamieson & Haldane, C.A be re-appointed auditors, and this was agreed to,

      Mr HUGH GILMOUR said it would be well to hear what the company was doing at present, if they are able to meet the present price and if there was any profit. The CHAIRMAN said that for the last two months there was no loss. They had got a certain amount of increased products in various ways and by very strenuous application to economy and improvement he was happy to assure the meeting he would not say exactly that they had turned the corner, but he hoped they should soon do so, Mr GILMOUR said if they were exhausting the shale were they not working at a loss? The CHAIRMAN said that was inevitable- Mr FALCON KING asked if it would not be well to allow the works to stand a little. It seemed to be a pity to throw away 700 tons of shale a day. The CHAIRMAN said there were fixed charges royalties, rents, and so on to pay. Mr SMITH; That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. The CHAIRMAN said he hoped the time would never come for any for any of the companies for considering the question of shutting up their works. The prospects of the trade might be gloomy, the temporary failure of negotiation might be unfortunate, but the directors had the strongest hopes that the negotiations would be revived ( Hear, hear.) Now that all the companies were learning a lesson in the school of adversity, they would be brought round to consider matters in a more businesslike way and they would apply themselves to keep up the prices, just as railway companies, insurance companies, and traders of every description had come to an arrangement of sort. There were only eight refining companies in Scotland, and why should they not meet like businessmen, and the public would never know it by a sixpence.

      After some conversation, a suggestion by Mr. KING was our into the form of a motion and agreed to namely "That the shareholders of this company wish to impress on the directors the necessity of this board doing all in their power to come to a reasonable, business-like agreement with other companies as to prices, so that there be no undue and unnecessary competition betwixt ourselves, resulting in the throwing away of possible profit and the shareholder's money. A SHAREHOLDER asked, was it the case, as stated in the Herald, that negotiations had been going on again and that they had ceased again? Had the chairman any knowledge as to that? The CHAIRMAN said the directors had reason to believe that that was a somewhat premature statement. Hitches had occurred, but there was nothing very serious as to prevent, after all the meetings were over, the negotiations being resumed. On the motion of Mr ROBERT COX, the directors', remuneration for the past year was fixed at £500. The CHAIRMAN, said the board were very much gratified by such an expression of confidence in such very discouraging circumstances. The directors would not accept the money till profits were made – (applause) – and in the meantime it could be carried forward to their credit. A vote of thanks was awarded to the chairman, and the meeting ended.

      The Glasgow Herald 4th June 1887


      1888 Annual General Meeting

      The fourth annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday in Dowell's Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh. Mr T. Spowart, chairman of the company, presided. The directors' annual report, the substance of which has already been given in this column, was held as read.

      The CHAIRMAN said that when he addressed the shareholders at their last annual meeting it was a time of great depression in the oil trade. There were symptoms of improvement, but these were so faint that it was impossible for anyone who wished to look facts fairly in the face to derive much comfort from them. It was probable that the disappointment at the result of the year's operations, which, in common with his co-directors, he could not but feel, found expression in the language he then used. He was glad to be in a position to state that the oil trade was in a much more satisfactory condition now than it was a year ago. Prices all round were higher and were likely to remain so; and in addition to this the whole of the oil companies in Scotland were acting together in a rational way for the general good. They might remember that at their last meeting he referred to a scheme which had been formulated by the Scotch companies, but which, from lack of unanimity regarding the method to be adopted, bad broken down. What they then considered to be a possible, but not very probable thing, had been accomplished, arid he could safely say that never since the oil trade began had there been anything like the helpful co-operation between rival companies which existed today (applause.) It had not been easy to reconcile what seemed conflicting interests, and to produce a feeling of mutual trust and confidence, but yet it had been done; and the directors believed that what was for the good of the trade generally would be also for the good of the shareholders generally. (Applause.) He then went on to refer to negotiations which had been conducted with the representative of the oil producers of the United Stales, which had resulted in an agreement regarding prices of scale and wax: and, perhaps, of even more importance, resolutions regarding restriction of production of these articles, if found to be necessary. To the American representative, Mr Bedford, was also due in large measure an agreement which had been signed by nearly all the candlemakers in the United Kingdom, by which they expected the trade would be placed in a more satisfactory position than formerly. So far as they had gone, results had been satisfactory, and he believed they were now strong enough and united enough to pursue the new policy against any opposition should it ever be brought against them. The leading feature of the agreements between the American and Scotch producers as to scale and wax, the Scotch producers or oil, and the candlemakers of the United Kingdom, - was that while fixing and regulating minimum prices, these were not to be put so high as to risk decrease in consumption -(hear, hear)- not only to ensure a fair margin of profit for the capital invested in the companies.

      Speaking of the position of their own company, the Chairman said that perhaps some of them were disappointed with the result of the year's operations. It was quite normal that they should be. A good deal had been said in the newspapers about a revival of trade and particularly about higher prices for shale products. lt was not, however, possible all at once for any company to get much advantage from a rise in prices. To carry on a large work; such as theirs it was necessary to sell a good bit less. An advance therefore could only, as a rule, come into operation when existing contracts were worked off. Last year they acted on the principle of selling as little as they could for forward delivery but still it was really only during the last quarter, from January to March, that they obtained any advantage. They were probably aware that during July, August, and September the works were idle owing to a strike of the miners against a reduction of wages; and as it was during that period that the demand for all classes of oil set in, they were not in a position to meet the market for some time. They lost a good deal both directly and indirectly through the strike. They felt it necessary, however, to set with the Scottish Mineral Oil Association who had resolved to effect a reduction in wages, which, in the then position of affairs, none of the members could afford to pay. What the indirect loss was from such a prolonged struggle it was difficult to estimate, but they knew that it was considerable. He trusted they should not have any more disputes with their workmen. They wished to pay the men fair wages, and to be on good terms with them. In periods of depression, such as they had last year to pass through, it was necessary to practice the most rigid economy, and they felt it imperative to take off advances which had been granted in times of prosperity. Taking these circumstances into account, they had no reason to be unduly dissatisfied with the result of the year's operations. He was confident that should the prices they had been recently getting -low though they were compared with those obtained two or three years ago - continue, they should have a much more satisfactory report to submit to them at their next meeting. (Applause.)

      One great improvement which had materially helped them was a large increase in the yield of sulphate of ammonia. While during 1887-88 the company distilled nearly the same quantity of shale as during 1886-87, the total output of sulphate of ammonia was 472 tons more. This gave an increased income of fully £5,000. They were in hopes that they should be able during the current year to obtain an additional yield, but he could not speak definitely as to this, The company had been engaged for some months in sinking a mine into the Dunnet seam of shale, and he was a glad to say it was of excellent quality and full thickness. They might have charged a portion of the expenses of so doing to capital, but it was considered better that the whole should be borne by revenue. The directors had been very unwilling to add to capital account, and nothing had been sanctioned which did not obviously appear to be necessary. He did not expect that during the current year any large expenditure would be required. The company should require to provide additional machines for the candle department, but these were not costly. The outlay incurred in connection with the refining of scale and candlemaking had been very moderate. They were in a position to refine the whole of their scale into wax, and with extra machines make the whole of the wax into candles. They hoped to do a large business in this department during the coming season. The general condition of the works was in every way satisfactory. He was satisfied that all that they required to make the company a great success was a period of good prices, such as were obtainable prior to le 1887. These could not be commanded at will, but, he was not without hope that ere long they should see a still further improvement. (Applause.) The Chairman concluded by moving the adoption of the report. Mr ANDREW LANDALE formally seconded the motion, which was unanimously adopted.

      Questions having bean invited, the CHAIRMAN, in reply to a Shareholder, said the average of prices was much the same since the improvement which took place in January, February and March, but he was happy to be able to tell them that the month of April was quite satisfactory. If the Scottish Mineral Association held firmly together, faithfully and loyally, if each company considered the general good of the whole trade and let to itself alone, those prices would be maintained, and he believed increased. (Hear, hear, and applause.) Another SHAREHOLDER – If these prices are maintained, what will be the result next year? (Laughter.) The CHAIRMAN said he could hardly answer that question. Did it mean what dividend would be be paid? The SHAREHOLDER - Would you pay any dividend? The CHAIRMAN - Oh, certainly. he hoped and the board hoped and believed that the result of this year's operations would result in something quite satisfactory to the shareholders. (Applause.) Mr COX moved, and Mr J. D. WALKER seconded, the re-election of the retiring directors- Messrs. Landale and Paterson - which was unanimously agreed to. Mr. SMITH moved a vote of thanks to the directors for their services. He was sure all the oil companies of Scotland had to thank their board for the initiation of the step that had been taken, and for the trouble which the board had taken in carrying it out. All the companies were deriving benefit from it, and he thought they had recognised this in choosing their chairman as chairman of the united companies. He considered that was a very great honour which had been conferred on the company. (Hear, hear.) The CHAIRMAN, in replying, said the agreement had brought about a remarkable improvement already to the trade and he hoped it would continue. Everyone seemed determined to preserve the association, and he hoped that good would come of it, and that all the companies would benefit in another year to a large extent from its operations. (Applause.) The proceedings then terminated

      The Glasgow Herald, 26th May 1888


      1889 Annual General Meeting

      The fifth annual general meeting of the shareholders of this company was held in Dowell's Room, Edinburgh, yesterday – Mr Andrew Landale, chairman of the company, presiding. In a report, a summary of which appeared in the Herald of the 11th May, was held as read. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, expressed regret that a dividend could not be declared. They had fallen short of the results requisite for this purpose, and so far had not done so well as some of their competitors. Why this should have been so was a question not easily answered. They had reduced the price of certain products, and had also obtained ?? during the preceding year, in every respect they had improved, and their financial position was healthier than when they ?? little more economising and a very small increase in market value of their products would make a substantial difference in the profit and loss account. An analysis of the accounts for last year showed that their ???? a quantity of shale. The quality of oil obtained from it did not bear ??? the experts who tested it . As ??? they had obtained a large yield of sulphate of ammonia and it was their opinion that the yield could be considerably increased. As the shareholders were aware, the ?? of the retorts used by the company were of the Henderson design and they were not the most suitable for ammonia recovery. They might perhaps produce a better quality of oil, but the net result was not favourable. In the present market it was more profitable to obtain increased sulphate of ammonia, even although this may sacrifice a small percentage of oil scale. It was calculated that the alteration of retorts would cost about £5,000. The work was to the done gradually, but expeditiously as possible. The directors had made representations to the proprietors of the shale that the royalties were excessive and not justified by its quality. They had been offered a reduction in royalty of 2d per ton for 2 years, but they were thankful? For the concession, they pointed output? A reduction of double this amount should be made, since if this was allowed the company would still be paying full value. Other companies were paying no more than they had asked to be reduced tom while others had assigned reductions in consequence of the depreciation in prices that had occurred . H assured the company that directors were doing all in their power to bring prosperity to the company. They had shown their ??? ??? by taking up unissued debentures amounting to £5000. Since the accounts were made up they had had to redeem £4300 debentures which fell due at Whitsunday. They urgently recommended these to be replaced by the shareholders. Mr J. BROWNLEE seconded. The CHAIRMAN replied to a number of questions. He said that at present the company was getting 33lb of sulphate of ammonia for a ton of shale but expected by the proposed alteration to get 50lb. Mr DAVID GILMOUR expressed disappointment with the report He said there was something wrong which it would be advisable to find out. He therefore move that a committee of shareholders be appointed to confer with the directors on the affairs of the company and report back to a future meeting. Mr JAMES LINDSAY seconded. The CHAIRMAN said that the directors would welcome such an enquiry. Mr Gilmour's motion was adopted and a committee of five gentlemen nominated. The appointment of Mr. Drysdale to the directorate was confirmed and Mr Shaw was elected to the remaining vacancy. The report was approved and the proceedings terminated.

      The Glasgow Herald, 25th May 1889


      1890 Extraordinary General Meeting

      An extraordinary general meeting of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday afternoon in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh- Mr Andrew Landale presiding. There was a fair attendance of shareholders The meeting was called for the purpose of receiving the report by the shareholders' committee appointed in May last and of considering special resolutions based thereon.

      Mr EDWARD BRUCE, convener of the shareholders' committee, submitted the report, and said the committee had done their very utmost to give a true and accurate account of the present position of the company. The inquiry had been somewhat protracted, but it had been thorough and complete. It was pointed in the first place to the thorough nature of the investigations of Mr Wm. Fraser of the Pumpherston Oil Works, who had assisted the committee, and to the satisfaction expressed by that gentleman as to the extent of the shale field its freedom from faults, and the convenience with which it could be worked. As a shale field, apart from the quality of the shale, Mr Fraser said he had never seen its equal. The refinery was admirably adapted for the work, and the wax-refining departments were laid out with care and economically handled. The commercial department was conducted most efficiently, and had gives satisfaction to the committee. The erroneous estimate of the character of the shale had led to all the misfortunes of the company. Less ammonia been got from the shale than might have been swing to the Henderson retort having been used. This retort was adopted because at the first the shale was understood to be richer in oils and not so rich ammonia, whereas the reverse was now found to a be the case. The retort most suitable for the shales was the Young & Beilby. As to the future there was a very large area of shale to be worked which would meet all requirements for many years. The present difficulties with the miners and the high price of coal were, in the opinion of some, not likely to continue, and there was a prospect of improvement in the oil market. He was therefore of the opinion that the shareholders should be loyal to the company, and that they should take up a proposed debenture stock. (Applause.) By doing this they would protect their own interests, and put money in the lands of the directors to erect additional and improved retorts, which would keep the refinery and whole works in full operation. If this was done, he was convinced that the shares would soon become of the market value of £5 10s, which was the value it was proposed to reduce then to, for the company would become a very strong dividend-paying one. (Applause.) He also expressed the strong sense of the indebtedness felt by the committee to one of their number, Mr J. D. Walker, both for investigating the affairs of the company and in preparing the report. He further called attention to the good work done by Mr Fraser in the same direction. On behalf of the committee, be thanked the If directors for their cordial co-operation and assistance In conclusion, he called attention to the fact that there was one portion of the shale field yet unworked which was believed to be very rich in oil. It could not be opened until the shareholders provided the money, but it was the opinion of competent persons that that was the best part of the field. As it was rich in oil, the Henderson retorts already in possession of the company might be used for retorting that shale.

      The CHAIRMAN expressed regret at the unavoidable delay in presenting the report of the committee. He spoke of the work of investigation, and of the proprietors of the lands having agreed to a reduction of the royalties on the shale won. The conclusions the committee had arrived at were identical with those stated in the report last year. It had been established beyond question that by using I the Young & Bielby retort there would be an increase of profit to the company of 1s a ton. The directors were unanimously of opinion that the committee's proposal to erect new retorts of the Young & Bielby pattern was not only the best course, but it was the only one open. There was probably no other company in Scotland that could put shale into the retorts at a lower price than the Linlithgow Company could. The candle factory promised to use up the whole scale manufactured in the works. The new benches of retorts would bring up the yield of crude oil to over 6,000,000 gallons which was the maximum quantity that could be dealt with by the refinery. The writing down of the capital would, he trusted, commend itself to every shareholder. The directors had so much confidence that though their aggregate holdings were large they had determined to take up the whole of their proportion of the new shares. Some of the larger shareholders had intimated their intention to do likewise, and to take any additional new shares that might be left unsubscribed for. The payments would probably be arranged to extend ever a year. In regard to suggestions that the directorate might be strengthened, the directors had already approached two of the largest and most influential shareholders with the view of getting their consent to join the board. (Applause.) He moved that the report be received, and that the committee be thanked for their labours.

      Mr BRUCE said he would add to what he had previously said that the committee had not taken a sanguine view of the position, but had fixed their estimate as loss as possible. Mr HUNTER, who had been engaged in connection with the original testing of the shale, complained that the present report cast reflections upon him. The meeting, however, expressed itself unwilling that he should proceed, and he said that if that was so he would bring out the facts in a Court of justice. The general opinion of the meeting, however, was that no reflection had been cast upon him, and that the business now was to deal with the present state of matters, and not to resuscitate questions as to the original shale-testing, Mr HUGH GILMOUR, a member of the committee, said they had taken their estimates of the profits at the minimum ; everything had been cut down to the lowest, He believed there would be another saving, which the committee had not taken into account at all - namely, that considerably less coal would be needed when the Young & Beilby retort was used. Coal was a very large item, something like 50,000 tons, and if they could save a third, or something like that, it would be a great matter. He also spoke of the desire, which a large body of the shareholders had, that Sir Charles Tennant should accept the position of Chairman of the company

      Sir CHARLES TENNANT said the request was one which he could hardly entertain. He thought the statements in the report and those made by Mr Bruce ought to inspire confidence in the shareholders. a. The statements looked extremely trustworthy and encouraging. Being a large shareholder, he would do his part and take up all the new stock adhering to his holding - (applause)- and he thought a good many of the large shareholders would follow his example. They had very good security - better than in a great number of companies. He saw nothing in the affairs of the company to make one despondent, and the present had a great number of a good features. He would be very glad to do all he it could in the interests of the company - (applause) - but he was afraid he had got too many things on hand already to allow him to join the board. He therefore could not see his way at present to accept the invitation. Mr SMITH of Duloch seconded the chairman's motion, and expressed the hope that Sir Charles Tennant would reconsider his decision.

      The CHAIRMAN assured Sir Charles Tennant that. his acceptance of the chairmanship of the Board would be considered a very great favour, and every effort would be made to make his work as light as possible. He hoped Sir Charles would think over the matter before he was approached in s a more formal way. Mr SMITH said he understood the company ware intending to remove their offices to Glasgow, and that would be an additional inducement to Sir Charles Tennant. The motion was then adopted. The following special resolutions were then moved seriatim by the CHAIRMAN, seconded by Mr BROWNLIE, and unanimously agreed to: "that the capital of the company be reduced from 20,000 shares of £10 each, £8 paid, to 20,000 shares of £7 10s each, £5 10s paid." "That £50,000 mortgage debenture stock be created, bearing interest at 6 per cent. per annum convertible at any time, in the option of the holders, into ordinary shares of the company at par, and to be redeemed after 1892 to the amount of at least £2503 per annum by annual drawings at premium of 5 per cent" "That in order to carry out the foregoing proposal 9031 ordinary shares of £7 10s each will be created". . A vote of thanks to the chairman closed the meeting. A deputation representing a large number of Shareholders afterwards waited upon Sir Charles Tennant to urge him to accept office, and after conference Sir Charles intimated that he would consider the matter.

      The Glasgow Herald 9th April 1890


      1890 Annual General Meeting

      The sixth Annual General Meeting of the Linlithgow Oil Company Limited, was held in Dowell's Rooms Edinburgh, yesterday - Mr John Brownlee, Dunfermline, presiding, in the absence, through ill-health, of Mr Lansdale, the chairman of the company. The CHAIRMAN, in moving the adoption of the report, which has already been published, said - I am sorry that the result of operations during the year ending 31st March has not been satisfactory. These have been lightly touched upon in the report. I may mention, in supplement to what I there stated, that the case of the loss sustained was not so much the rise in wages or the increased cost of material, but the small throughput of a shale. During the preceding year we made from our own retorts about 4 1/4 million gallons of crude oil, and we refined in addition three-quarters of a million of gallons bought from another company. During the past year the total quantity dealt with was only 3 1/2 million gallons. The consequence of this diminished throughput was, as can be easily understood, increased costs all round. We have also certain fixed charges -outlays in connection with our private railway, anti-pollution taxes, interest, general management and commercial department - amounting to about £10,000 yearly, and these when divided by a small production compare unfavorably with a period when the refinery was more fully employed. The difficulty which faced us about September of last year, when the rise in coal took place, and when miners were able to obtain better wages in coal pits than we would have been justified in paying, was the small stock of shale on hand. We had been compelled to keep down the output at a time when it might have been easily increased. For at least six months of the year we were unable to keep the whole of the retorts in operation, and even those which were nominally working were very imperfectly supplied with shale, I mention these circumstances to show that the outcome, as some may have supposed, was not due to any permanent and unalterable cause, but to temporary difficulties which we believe are now at an end. The response of the shareholders to the request of the directors for additional capital has entirely changed the aspect We are now able to stock shale against the recurrence of a period similar to what we have recently passed through, and we are also able to erect retorts better suited to the shale with which we have to deal, and to carry out other much needed improvements. By reason of the reduction of capital we are enabled to write of the whole of the balance against us, and to carry on the business with greater economy and on a more extensive scale. Contracts have been. made for the erection of two additional benches of Young end Beilby retorts, and operations are in progress for the alteration of one of the existing benches of the Henderson retort. These will be completed within four months from this date, and the additional sulphate of ammonia obtainable will prove an important source of revenue. Provision has been made for a supply of crude oil from the outside.

      You are aware that Sir Charles Tennant, who has agreed to accept a seat at the board - and to whom we area greatly indebted for the success which has attended the somewhat difficult financial arrangements just concluded - expressed desire to have on the board a gentleman practically acquainted a with the oil trade. As a result of that expression of opinion Mr Fraser, managing director of the Pumpherston Oil Company, who is thoroughly conversant with the affairs of the company, and who is sanguine of future success, agreed to act as adviser to the board. We have stated in the report that the mineral proprietors have agreed to a reduction of the royalties. As soon as they clearly understood the character of the shale and that the lordship per ton was in excess of the market value they willingly agreed to make concessions which will materially help us in the future. There is one point yet which we have brought under their notice, and we have no doubt that a proper apprehension of the importance of the liberty asked for will bring about a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. For some time, as you are aware, the Scottish oil trade his been in a depressed condition. The competition with Russia and America has been very keen, and the prices obtainable for all products have been reduced almost to the vanishing point. But this year the downward movement has not only been arrested, but has, in at least one important produce, scale, very decidedly improved. The stock of this article both in America and in Scotland has been reduced so much that it is extremely doubtful if the supply, added to the production from all the works, will prove equal to the demand. By an agreement with the candle-makers of the United Kingdom, in conjunction with the refiners in America and in Scotland, the price has been raised nearly £5 per ton, and this means to our company an additional revenue of about £10,000. That in itself is a most important change. But it has had another effect. Hitherto we have had great difficulty in disposing of our candles, but up till now the sales for the coming season have greatly exceeded our expectations. With regard to lubricating and gas-making oils the outlook is also hopeful. Prices have advanced in both cases, and while the increased revenue from these articles is not so great as from scale, yet it is important. The only element of weakness at present is burning oil, which in the opinion of some may not realise quite so good a price as it did last year. You will find in the report that boring operations are in progress in Little Ochitree, where; it is hoped the Broxburn seam of shale may be found in better condition than it is on the rest of the property. I am not yet in a position to state the result, but we expect in a few days to have definite information. The directors are not depending upon the discovery of a better seam. The calculations that have been made are based exclusively on results already obtained. If the Broxburn shale is found in better form the company will be of course benefit, but if not we are not going to be greatly disappointed. It is our intention by and by to remove the offices of the company from Edinburgh to Glasgow. This will be more convenient in several respects, and will bring us closer contact with the principal buyers in the oil trade. (Applause.) Mr R. R. PRENTICE seconded, and the report was adopted.

      The Chairman then moved, and Mr HUGH GILMOUR seconded, the election as a director of Sir Charles Tennant, which was unanimously agreed to. Sir CHARLES TENNANT, in thanking the meeting, expressed himself sanguine of the ultimate success of the company. He thought they had turned the corner, and saw nothing in the outlook to make them distrustful of the future. He entered upon the duties of director in a very hopeful spirit. Messrs Landale and Prentice were then unanimously re-elected directors of the company, and the proceedings terminated with a vote of thanks passed to Brownlie for presiding.

      The Glasgow Herald 24th June 1890


      1891 Special General Meeting

      A special meeting of the Linlithgow Oil Company, Limited, was held in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh, yesterday - Mr John Brownlee, Lassodie, presiding - when the report of Mr W. Fraser, Glasgow (already published), suggesting a new issue of 50,000 10 per cent. preference shares of £l each was considered. Mr HUGH GILMOUR said he had never been more surprised at any report than this, as it was only a year ago that the financial affairs of the company wore rearranged. The outside valuation of the works was then obtained, and their nominal value written down in accordance with the report received. He suggested that the capital should remain as it was, as in his opinion it was a mistake to write down the capital of the company in such a drastic way. He also suggested that the preference shares be issued to bear interest at 6 per cent, and that the holder should have the right of contingent profits. To reduce the capital of the company would net produce a penny to carry on the business. The best thing the directors could do was to allow the affairs to go on for a year, end if their anticipations were realised as to the result of the present operations, it might be then time to consider whether there should be any further reduction in the nominal value of the plant. Mr HARSLEIGH, who supported Mr Gilmour, said he was not surprised at the loss that hard been sustained during the past year. As a member of the committee, it was quite well known to him that the Henderson retorts could not be carried on except at a loss. Sir CHARLES TENNANT said the new retorts were realising what was expected of them. The other deficiency had been want of capital ; £15,000 was totally inadequate, and now they wanted some £30,000 more. He was himself very much astonished that this scheme was proposed. He preferred the suggestion he made himself to create £50,060 of preference stock. It would be, he, thought, suicidal on their part to give up this property. It was a good property, and it only wanted to be carried on to realise the money invested He thought it would be better to fix the dividend on their preference stock at 7 per cent., and then the ordinary shareholders would got 5 per cent., the surplus to be divided equally between preference and ordinary shareholders. The scheme Mr Fraser had put before them was a very able one, but he thought many of them would rather have 5 per cent on £10 shares than 10 per cent. upon £5 shares. (dear, dear.) If they adopted Mr Fraser's scheme they would get into good dividends faster doubtless, and the company would be put on a sounds basis, and he would be happy to throw in his lot with them; but if they preferred to create preference shares, it would be a reasonable proposal, and one which he thought would give confidence to the shareholders.

      Mr FRASER said that if the feeling of the shareholders was against the writing down of the capital he would not take up the time of the meeting by going into the question.

      Mr SNODGRASS, the works manager, gave a statement as to the means he had adopted by diminish the expenditure, and increasing the revenue, tie result he said, having been much the same during the last fortnight as these stated in the reports. After further discussion,

      Mr HUGH GILMOUR made a motion "That £50,000 preference shares of £1 each be created to bear interest at 7 per cent. per annum, the surplus revenue to be equally divided between the preference and ordinary shareholders, the shares to be allotted to the ordinary shareholders pro rata with the ordinary shares held by them, and that in the meantime only 35,000 shares be issued the preference shares to be preferable both as regards capital and interest." Mr SMITH of Duloch, seconded the resolution, which was agreed to, and the proceedings terminated.

      The Glasgow Herald 25th April 1891


      1891 Annual General Meeting

      The seventh annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company was held yesterday in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh. Mr Andrew Landale, chairman of the company, presiding. The report, which had already been published in these columns, was held as read.

      The CHAIRMAN, in moving the adoption of the report, said the report presented by the committee of shareholders made it clear that the shale was of poor quality as far as oil is concerned but comparatively rich in sulphate of ammonia. It had been demonstrated that the Henderson retorts are unsuited for shales such as those found on the property. By using them the whole of the oil is extracted?, but a lease one-half of the sulphate is lost. This fact account for the lack of success of the company hitherto. Having discovered the cause, it was resolved to erect retorts specially designed to deal with shale such as those we possess. This having now been done, and the result is satisfactory. The month of April was the only one from which they could as yet judge fully, but they could give an indication of what the return for May may show. During April the yield of crude oil was 17 ¼ gallons, and of sulphate of ammonia 36 ¾ lb per ton of shale. The gross profit for the month was £1180 2 s 4d. From this fell to be deducted interest on debentures and debenture stock, £376 13s 4d, and left a profit of £809 9s. This was not a large sum but it was on the right side, and the directors have the manager's assurances that several improvements are being effected which would go towards lessening costs and to the increase of production. The returns for May showed a yield of 17.57 gallons of crude and 89 lbs of sulphate of ammonia . The differences on costs and yields combined would be 6d per ton and this on a throughput of 19,000 tons was £400 of additional profit for the month. That there was room for further savings, particularly at the retorts, was admitted. They know that they were heavier with the company than at some other works, and their manager was convinced that in a short time it would be on a level with others. In order to show the difference between last year and this, he might share that ? the production of ammonia during the last year averaged 157 tons monthly, the production of sulphate of ammonia for April of this year was 248 tons and for May 295 tons at a greatly reduced cost.

      For some years manufacturers in America and Scotland have worked under agreements as to minimum prices. The agreement for the current year has been arranged, and the price of scale has been advanced on halfpenny per pound. The demand for mineral wax has been steadily increasing, and for some time prior to the termination of the last agreement it realised a premium in the market. The advance in the price now established would yield a considerably greater revenue and would far more than compensate for a fall in the price of light oils, which at present were cheaper than the average last year. It is not unlikely that the competition now going on between America and Russia, by reason of which lamp oils are solid at very low prices, would moderate. One important result was that the use of oils was rapidly expanding; and even in large towns where gas is readily and cheaply obtained, there has been an increasing demand for paraffin oil. While there was no falling off in the production of petroleum, the difficulty was year by year becoming greater of maintaining it at the level of demand. The use of oil is the manufacturing of gas for lighting railway carriages and country houses was also extending and was likely to attain much larger dimensions in the future. While they were satisfied with the progress made at the works, the directors felt the necessity of impressing the importance of providing a sufficient amount of working capital.

      The creation of preference shares would overcome the difficulty, and he had the pleasure in stating that 12,818 had already been subscribed. This number fell short of what was necessary to enable the directors to carry on the business on a sound basis, and would require to be increased to at least 25,000. it is well known that during the summer months a very large proportion of products had to be stored, and the working capital sufficient to enable directors to do this is required. The shares were preferential both as regards capital and interest, and in addition to the interest at 7 per cent were to participate in divisible profits after the ordinary shares receive 5 per cent. With the success of the company these shares would become valuable and there would be no difficulty in placing them. But the money required now, and the directors trusted that the shareholders who have not yet accepted the shares allotted to them will now do so. The directors have taken those adhering to them, and were prepared to do more if they were supported by the shareholders. That the shareholders had already done their duty to the company, the directors readily acknowledged. The experience of the last few years had not been encourage, and it could not be wondered at if many of the shareholder should now stand aloof, fearing that if more money was supplied it would only be increasing their loss. If the directors were of the opinion they would not urge this matter, nor would they add to their own interest in the company , as they had unhesitatingly done. He had no wish to be over sanguine, and to predict results which were not likely to take place. He had endeavoured to wait out the change in the position of affairs, and thereby encourage the shareholders who had invested their money in the company, and who stuck? to it through good report and through bad report, to wait patiently the outcome of the year's work. The directors were hopeful that a new departure had been made and that it would be within their power when another year had gone to record very different results from those contained in the report which he moved to be adopted (Applause). The directors were rather disappointed after the promises made at the last meeting. The preference shares had not been taken up to the extent expected, and the suggestion had had to make was that they should appoint a small committee which should wait upon the shareholders who had not taken up their shares.

      The SECRETARY added that Sir Charles Tennant was able was not able to be present, but they had Mr Alexander's (Sir Charles' partner) assurance that Sir Charles's further action would be guided very much by what the shareholders did. A committee was appointed, and Messrs Brownlee and Prentice re-elected directors.

      Mr. JAMES SNODGRASS, manager, stated that he expected the increase from the price of was would be sufficient to wipe off the loss last year. He thought they could congratulate themselves in being in a fairly satisfactory way. Replying to a question he stated that the cost of the production of sulphate of ammonia was almost one half of what it had been. If they took the average for the year, he though it was 20s a ton down. A vote of thanks having been given to the chairman for presiding, the proceedings were terminated.

      The Glasgow Herald 2nd June 1891


      1892 Annual General Meeting

      The (eighth) annual meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was hold in the rooms 18 George Street, Edinburgh. yesterday -Mr Andrew Landale, chairman of the company, presiding.

      The CHAIRMAN moved the adoption of the report, a summary of which has already been published. He said - It is not pleasant for the directors to come before you and tell once more of expectations unrealised. When we met last year we believed that our difficulties, if not at an end, were at least materially lessened. There was the prospect off assured revenue from scale, and we had the assurance from our manager - repeated in your hearing - that he was confident he could maintain the yields of crude oil and sulphate of ammonia then being obtained; and that alterations in progress would result in lowering costs and increasing production. The directors accepted those statements and based on some months of practical working and an experience of the material with which he had to deal. The yields of crude oil and sulphate of ammonia, which at that time were 17.57 gallons and 39.6 lbs. respectively, fell as low as 16.54 and 30.52 lbs Costs, instead of diminishing, increased; and added to this we had to face a reduced revenue, owing to a fall in. the value of liquid products, The directors were seriously alarmed, as they had invited the shareholders to add to their pecuniary interests in the company, and had also increased their own. They were told that the shale was at fault, and an exhaustive inquiry took place to put this important matter at rest. The result of the inquiry proved that it was riot the shale, but in the retorting where the inefficiency arose. This has been demonstrated in the clearest way to have been the case. Mr Beveridge, who had served the company as mines manager, was appointed works manager, and under his management there has been a steady improvement in yields. We are now getting regularly over 19 gallons of oil and 40lb. of ammonia, but to get these results a good deal of money had to he spent upon repairs; and the outlay on this head has prevented any reduction in costs. Mr Beveridge says that he cannot promise any reduction - except what will follow from lower wages and cheaper coal for two months to come. The position of the oil trade in Scotland is not satisfactory. Competition with petroleum-producing countries are keener than ever, and prices on the average are lower than they have been since 1887. The costs of production are also greater owing to the condition of the labour market, and the high price charged for coal and chemicals. But a change seems impending, and quite recently it was arranged to reduce wages. The price of coal has also boon reduced, and it is not improbable that further reductions will fellow. The market for scale, on which the prosperity of the Scottish oil trade depends so much, is not so good as it was a year ago, when consumption was ahead of production. This is not the case now. We believe that the best remedy is to curtail output to meet the demands of the trade, but unfortunately united action to bring about this result has not yet been obtained.

      Turning to the financial aspects of the report, I have to point out that our liabilities to debenture holder and to trade creditor have been greatly reduced. The stock-is-trade has been added to, owing to the present want of demand for scale. To keep heavy stocks of products over the summer it is necessary to have a good command of working capital. It would aid the directors if the shareholders would increase this by giving temporary loans, repayable within a year. There is ample security in the assets of the company, which show a large surplus over liabilities. .I have stated our difficulties and our present position frankly. The directors have made a full statement of the position of the company, and further information can be obtained. We have done out best during a trying period to act fairly towards everyone connected with the company. I can assure you that our duties have neither been light nor agreeable, Mr JOHN BROWNLIE seconded.

      A SHAREHOLDER asked if there was anyone over the manager was representing the directors at the oil-works and the mines, The CHAIRMAN said there was a general manager who took charge of the whole concern,

      The SHAREHOLDER said the reason he asked the question was that he had noticed that there had been falling off of the yield of oil, and he would mention that he saw some of it going into the atmosphere. This escape he had observed from fully, a quarter of a mile away, and had, he was told, continued for several weeks at a time.

      Another SHAREHOLDER submitted that the conduct of business of the company would be improved by the removal of the offices from Glasgow to Linlithgow.

      A third SHAREHOLDER said they had nothing in the report submitted to guide them as to how their money was spent. There was a general impression that mismanagement had been not only at the works, hut, at the offices of the company. A profit and lose account, he thought, should be given along with the balance sheet.

      A fourth SHAREHOLDER said the company had got into disgrace. The doors were almost closed upon them so far as credit was concerned. -They might. put their stock into the market, but they could not get it sold even at a sacrifice. He should also like to have a detailed account of income and expenditure, wages, &c. ln view of the unsatisfactory nature of the report in regard to these details he moved its disapproval. At the request of Mr Tait, the Secretary (Mr John Young) read the articles of the company, which contained no provision for the preparation of a profit and less account for the shareholders. In answer to the various criticisms passed by shareholders, the Secretary said he had observed and called the manager's attention frequently to the fact that oil as well as coal smoke was escaping. As a result of inquiry it came out that for a brief period, as far as they could judge, the retorts had been very badly used, one or two having to be put away and others practically rebuilt. It was this that practically led to a change in the management. The late manager was a trained chemist, who had come to them with a very good reputation, but the company had had no means of knowing very much about him. During the first three months of his reign the late manager had done remarkably well, bringing out a good yield of oil and ammonium at a cost tending to be low. After that, however, the cost of production began to rise, and he (the secretary) came to the conclusion that a change was necessary. The then mining manager (Mr Beveridge) was appointed manager and had made several important improvements. But those, he thought, had been neutralised by the expense he had had to put the company to in replacing and repairing retorts. As to the suggested transfer of the company's offices to Linlithgow, he reminded the shareholders that the company, in addition to being manufacturing, were a large selling companies . It had been the experience of all the oil companies in Scotland that the offices must be where the business was done, at Glasgow, otherwise they would suffer. In regard to the profit and less account, it had been made out annually, and submitted along with, the balance-sheet until the present year, when it was thought advisable to discontinue that practice. As to the charge of want of forethought in making payments to the landlords of the company and to traders, he would only say that if the receipts did not come up to the expenditure it was difficult to make payments at a later stage, and in connection with a lengthy statement dealing with the cost of production and prices obtained, as well as with the positions of the company, which the press representatives were asked not to report, the secretary stated that the company had been worked at a small profit during the year so for. The amendment was then withdrawn and the report unanimously agreed to. Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., and Mr Landale ware re-elected directors.

      The CHAIRMAN said it was stated in the report that the directors made a request for additional capital of £35,000. and that £26,796 of this had been got. The difference between the sums made all the difference to the company, because by the want of this money they were in great straits to carry on the business, and it was new left to the directors to appeal to the shareholders to come forward and give temporary loans. A committee was accordingly appointed to act with the directors for the purpose of providing the additional working capital required for such purpose and a much interest as they might determine. It was moved that the preference stock be put upon the market, but the opinion being expressed that this was not judicious at present, the motion was not seconded.

      The SECRETARY then made a statement with regard to the preference shares. He said that after the special resolution had been agreed to in regard to these shares he had now doubts as to whether the wording of the resolution was quite satisfactory and made the preference stock preferential. He took opinion on the subject and found that the resolution was not in regular form, and that it would no better for them to begin de novo and pass an amended resolution. It was further suggested that the stock already taken should be cancelled and the shares re-issued It was agreed to call an extraordinary general meeting of the company to consider the proposed amended resolution, The proceedings then terminated.

      The Glasgow Herald 24th May 1892


      1893 Annual General Meeting

      The ninth annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited), held in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh, to-day. Mr Andrew Landale presided. Tho report, which has been already published, stated that then was a balance at debit of profit and loss account of £1133 11s 1d.

      In moving the adoption the report, the chairman said he hoped the shareholders would endorse the opinion of the directors, expressed in report, that the result of the year's working had not been unsatisfactory. The oil trade had been so bad that they were thankful they had been able steer clear of disaster, fate which had unfortunately overtaken some of their neighbours. The primary cause the depression was the collapse of the Mineral Oil Association. They were now making crude oil under more advantageous circumstances than ever before. As to their financial position, they were not in any apprehension to their ability to carry the company safely through the summer. They were better off now than at the same time last year, and their outlays were less. As to the reduction of shares the directors were of opinion that the course proposed was in the interests of all the shareholders. Mr Brown lee seconded the motion.

      Mr Dayton, Bridge of Allan, amid laughter and interruption, made an attack on the management of the company, and appealed for the appointment of a committee of investigation. He would not, he said, be a director of any company to have the maledictions of weeping orphans and sorrowing widows. (Laughter.) Mr. Mitchell, Edinburgh, said he was sure a great many here must know perfectly well that things were being pushed as profitably as they could be. Mr Tait, of Messrs Chiene & Tait, explained that in the reduction of share capital the debenture-holders were considered first. Mr J. F. Inglis, Newmains, and Mr M'Lennan, Edinburgh, who said he was like Mr Dayton, a grumbler last year, also expressed admiration the way things had been managed. Mr Beveridge, works manager, reported the works to in very good order, and said had no fear for the future.

      On the motion of Mr J. T. Smith, Duloch, seconded by Mr Fraser, it was agreed to give the directors £700 for their past services, and to leave the question of future remuneration to future meetings. At an extraordinary general meeting held later, it was agreed to reduce the capital from 20,000 shares at £7 10s each to 20,000 shares at £5 each. This was all the business.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 23rd May 1893


      1894 Annual General Meeting

      The annual report to be submitted to the tenth general meeting on the 23rd inst. was issued yesterday. It states that after providing for maintenance and repairs there a balance the credit of profit and loss account of £6001 15s 3d. From that sum falls to lie deducted £3818 16s 51 for interest on debentures, debenture stock, and temporary loans, and the Directors advise that the balance of £2182 18s 10d be carried forward to the current year's accounts. The mineral oil trade during 1893-94, the Directors say, has been even worse than during the preceding year, and prices have touched a point below which it unlikely they will go.

      The Dundee Courier, 16th May 1894


      1895 Annual General Meeting

      The eleventh annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company was held to-day in Dowell's Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh. In the report by the directors, which has already been published detail, it was stated that the sum at the credit the profit and loss account, including a balance from the previous year, and after providing for maintenance and repairs, was £5846. From this amount there had to be deducted £3584 for interest on debenture stock and temporary loans, while the directors advised that £1675 should be applied in writing off the whole of the expenditure capital account, and that the balance of £586 be carried forward to next year's account.

      Mr Andrew Landale, chairman, presided, and in moving the adoption of the report, said he was sorry the directors had to meet the shareholders without being able declare a dividend. That was matter of extreme regret to the directors, still knowledge of the facts of the case was sufficient to show that under the conditions prevailing during the past year a large profit was not to expected. It was the coal miners' strike which interfered more than anything else with the business that year. The cost of coal during that period of four months was extremely high, and in addition to that the strike was indirectly the cause of exceptional expenditure. It was to be hoped that these periodical interferences with the industry of the country might cease, and that there would be more reasonable methods adopted for settling trade disputes. (Hear, hear.) Whatever fluctuations might occur between now and the contracting season two months hence he thought there would be decided improvement this winter over last year's prices. (Applause.) He had good reason for believing that if they had no disturbing influence work during the current year the result would gratifying to all connected with the company. It was not pleasant to have to continue the struggle for mere existence, and thought the struggle they had maintained would ultimately result in success. (Applause.) Mr Brownlie seconded, and the report was adopted unanimously,

      Mr Smith of Duloch remarking that the company had been struggling on for a good many years, but he agreed with the chairman in saying that, failing unforeseen circumstances, he was satisfied that the directors would have the pleasure of giving the shareholders what they had waited long for—a dividend. (Applause.) Messrs John Brownlie, R. K. Prentice (re-elected), and Dr. Arthur Drysdale, Dunfermline, were appointed directors. It was agreed to vote £300 the directors for their services during the past year. The meeting terminated with votes of thanks.

      Edinburgh Evening News 16th May 1895


      1896 Annual General Meeting

      The 12th annual meeting of the Linlithgow Oil Company was held in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh, yesterday—Mr Andrew Landale, chairman, presiding. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said there had been an improvement in the price of oils, which was well maintained, and for some oils there is a good demand. Sulphate of ammonia fell greatly in price, but the contracts in hand gave the Company fair average price for the year, but the difference in the quantity sold was £12,000 below what was sold in 1894-95.

      There had been an all-round reduction in the expenditure for the year, chiefly in tho cost of coal. The Directors proposed to make a tentative effort to substitute gas for coal as a the method of heating, by which it was said greater regularity would be obtained and a larger throughput would be assured. With regard to the proposed legislation as to the flash point of oil, he said the producers of Scotland were unanimously of opinion that to include them in such Bill would be unjust in principle and unnecessary in practice. The report was adopted, and the Directors voted £400 for their services.

      The Dundee Courier, 13th May 1896


      1897 Annual General Meeting

      The 13th annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company was held in Dowell's Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh, at noon to-day—Mr Andrew Landale, chairman, presiding. In moving the adoption the report and balance-sheet (which have been published), the Chairman said the results of the year's onerations were not satisfactory. Comparing them with the preceding year, when there, was a net profit of £8000, there had been reduction of revenue of £12,000.

      That was a serious matter, but was easily explained. It was accounted for by a fall in sulphate of ammonia amounting to £6000 and a fall in wax and candles of £7300. The receipts for burning oils had been less, but those from lubricating and gas oils had been greater. The main difficulty lay in the low yield of crude oil obtainable from the shale. Unless there was a rise in the market for sulphate of ammonia and wax he could not hold out a hope of substantial improvement. Mr R. R. Prentice seconded.

      Councillor Scott, Edinburgh, asked what the prospect for the incoming year was, and Mr Young, the secretary, in reply, said the reductions which they had effected on wages were calculated to yield £2500 in the year, and the reductions on royalties for the year would give £1250 (they paid at present £2500 to the proprietors), and the reduction on debenture interest was of the same amount, so that altogether a reduction of £5000 would effected. very strict economy they believed they could work within those lines. Until there was some improvement in the value of products they could not promise more than that they could go on during the current year without a loss. The report was thereafter adopted. On the motion of Mr J. T. Smith, Duloch, a resolution was passed unanimously thanking the proprietors, the debenture holders, and the workmen for their concessions to the company. Mr J. Brownlie and Mr R. R. Prentice were re-elected directors, and vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the business.

      Edinburgh Evening News 18th May 1897


      1898 Annual General Meeting

      The fourteenth annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday in Dowell's Rooms – Edinburgh –Mr. Andrew Landale, chairman of the company, presiding.

      In moving the adoption of the report, which has been published, the Chairman said that when they met last year the oil trade was in a depressed condition. They had expected to conduct their business without loss during the year. Wages had been reduced. The mineral proprietors had agreed to charge a very moderate royalty, and the debenture stockholders had acquiesced in a proposal to accept interest at 3 per cent. The results of their operations during the past year had justified the anticipations of the directors. There was a small deficit, but this was due to alterations and additions to the retorts, the expenditure upon which had been charged to revenue, and to the falling off in supplies of crude oil owing to the shutting down for some months of the works of the Holmes Company. The results of the alterations were satisfactory. The costs were a slightly lower. The retorts worked with greater regularity and efficiency. and by the substitution of shale retorts for coal retorts the throw out of shale increased 20 per cent. The policy initiated two years ago would be continued as circumstances would permit. From the information they had been able to obtain of the working of the Bryson retort at Pumpherston and elsewhere and of the improved Henderson retort at Broxburn there seemed to be little doubt that better results were obtainable at lower costs than the company was able to achieve, but the initial outlay was so heavy that they were quite unable in the present position of the company to do more than he had indicated. In regard to royalties, the proprietors had intimated the withdrawal of the concession which they had granted last year, and stated that after the present year more onerous terms would be imposed. The directors had placed the position fully before the proprietors, and had explained that owing to continued depression, the royalties asked could not he paid, and they were hopeful that a satisfactory settlement would be arrived at.

      With regard to the future, it was difficult to speak with any degree of certainty. Since the report was written a slight all-round improvement in prices had taken place, but whether the improvement in liquid products was due entirely to higher freights being charged upon American oils owing to the war could not with certainty be affirmed. It was however, rather a testimony to the vitality of the Scottish oil trade that in spite of a continuous decline in prices for several years the output of oil should show few, if any signs of falling off. The energies of the various works managers had been stimulated to renewed efforts to effect savings in all departments, and these had at least proved successful in keeping the trade alive. They believed a time was coming when the holders of oil shares would profit by all the economies which had been made. But whether that time was in the near of in the distant future was impossible to say. Mr John Brownlie seconded the adoption of the report.

      In replying to Mr. Edward Burke, who asked if the raising of the flash point would improve the oil trade in Scotland, Mr. John Young, the secretary, said they believed that if it were raised, there might be a slight effect on the trade. What the ultimate issue would be it was impossible to say. Americans made a great deal of the fact that if the flash point were raised the cost of the oil to the consumer would be enormously increased. They in Scotland did not believe anything of the kind. The report was adopted. The auditors were reappointed, and the directors were voted £400 for their services during the past year.

      Glasgow Herald 18th May 1898


      1899 Annual General Meeting

      The fifteenth annual general meeting of the shareholders of the Linlithgow Oil Company (Limited) was held yesterday in Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh- Mr R. R. Prentice presiding, in the absence of the chairman, Mr Andrew Landale.

      The report submitted stated that after providing for maintenance and repairs there was a sum of £758 at debit of profit and loss account, and that there was a balance of £2463 to be added to the debit of £1739 brought forward from previous year. Mr Prentice, in moving the adoption of the report, said the past year had not been a prosperous one. He could not say they had been disappointed, for at no period were the circumstances favourable. Sulphate of ammonia certainly improved in price, and continued to do so until the close of the financial year, but the wave of prosperity which is passing over the coal and iron industries affected costs in a serious fashion. They required 50,000 tons of coal per annum, and any increase in price was at once felt. Their workmen were also anxious, not unnaturally, to participate in the increased wages earned by coal miners and others, and they felt it impossible to resist the demand made by them for increased pay. They were compelled either to accede to their request or to risk the closing of the works. The prices obtained for products during recent years had been barely sufficient to meet working expenses, and they could only look for improved results if there should be any general advance in market value.

      They had not been able to erect new retorts, as some other companies had done, nor to introduce improved machinery. Still they had managed to hold their own. A decided change for the better had come over the mineral oil trade. For the first time since 1896 they saw the prospect of a reasonable margin of profit. Two main causes were contributing to that end. The first was the improvement in solid paraffin. At one time the great bulk of that article was produced in Scotland. But latterly it had been imported in ever-increasing quantities from America until the annual output had reached the large total of something like 60,000 tons, or fully three times that of the whole of the Scotch works. The pressure to sell so much candle-making material in a somewhat restricted market naturally reduced the price, and it reached a point which even a few years ago would have been considered impossible if the industry were to go on. But consumption appeared to have overtaken production, and as the supply was not unlimited, it was possible they might have before them a period of higher prices. At all events, they were assured of an advance amounting to about £4 per ton during the current year. The other cause was the somewhat unexpected demand for sulphate of ammonia. It was sold in competition with nitrate of soda but latterly farmers at home as well as abroad had bought it in preference to the latter, even at a price, which calculated by the nitrogen it contained, was relatively higher. For the present year it was reasonable to assume that it would yield them from £1 to £1 10s per ton more than it did during the period covered by the accounts, which again was about 20s per ton higher than during 1897-98. From these two articles they anticipated an increased revenue without counting upon any gain which they might have from other products. The directors intended to open up fresh shale, to make alterations upon the retorts, and to add to the refrigerating plant. Part of this outlay was due to an arrangement with the landlords in return for a new agreement regarding royalties. But apart from this, the alterations and additions were in the direction of economical working, and would prove of lasting benefit.

      In concluding, Mr Prentice referred to the fire which occurred at the paraffin sheds on Saturday and the unfortunate accident to five men on. that occasion, and said the utmost expedition would be employed to restore the buildings and obtain new plant. Mr J. Brownlie seconded, and the motion was agreed to unanimously. Sir Charles Tennant and Mr Prentice were re-elected directors, and the board were voted £400 for their past services

      Glasgow Herald 17th May 1899


      1900 Annual General Meeting

      The report of the Linlithgow Oil Company {Limited) for the year to March 31, 1900, is as follows: - After providing for maintenance and repairs, there is £12,598 17s 1d at the credit of profit and loss account. The amount for interest on debenture stock and temporary loans is £2136 7s 3d, which leaves a net profit for the year of £10,462 9s 10d. From this sum falls to be deducted £4202 11s Id at debit at March 31, 1899, and the directors recommend that the balance of £5259 11s 9d should be disposed of by writing off for depreciation £5000, and that £1259 l1s 9d be carried forward.

      The anticipations of the directors as to improved prices have been realised. But there has also been a marked increase in the cost of production. Further improvements in the prices of refined products have recently been established, and it is expected that these will be maintained for some time. The activity which prevails throughout the country, particularly in the coal and iron industries, is certain to lead to increased expenditure. But after making allowance for this, the directors are of opinion that the results for the current year will be satisfactory There has been an expenditure on capital account of £3777 6s, mainly for new and improved cooling plant and the opening up of fresh shale. The directors have frequently held under consideration the question of erecting modern and more cheaply worked retorts, but the heavy outlay required to effect so important a change has been a serious difficulty. An experimental set is being built, and if it proves satisfactory, it is intended to substitute similar retorts for those presently in use. In view of the high price of fuel it has been decided to reopen the Houston coal on the property. From this source a large part of the requirements of the work's can be obtained, and a considerable saving thereby effected. During the year debenture stock amounting to £2500 was redeemed. The directors retiring at this time are Mr Landale and Mr Brownlie, and they are eligible for re-election They also recommend that Mr Young, the general manager of the company, should be .added to the Board. Messrs Lindsay, Jamieson & Haldane, C.A., the auditors, are recommended for re-election.

      The Glasgow Herald 3rd May 1900


      1901 Annual General Meeting

      The 17th annual general meeting of the shareholders of tho Linlithgow Oil Company (Ltd.) was held on Wednesday within Dowell's Rooms, Edinburgh, Dr. Drysdale, Dunfermline, presiding. In moving the adoption of the report, the Chairman, in stating generally the position of the company, said that so far as the works went, they seemed to bo in a good enough condition, with the exception of the retorts. It was coming to be a question if this company had got to live, new retorts must be erected. There was no middle course. There was no use tinkering up the plant they had. They needed reconstruction of the retort plant from top to bottom, and if they had that, he saw no reason why they could not earn fair profits for many years to come. He indicated that there was a new scheme in preparation, and that part of the scheme was to introduce new directors. Mr Brownlie, Dunfermline, seconded. A shareholder asked the chairman to medicate on what lines the new scheme was to run, to which he replied that the scheme would be in their hands in a few days.

      The Falkirk Herald, 1st June 1901


      1902 Circular to Shareholders

      PROPOSED LIQUIDATION OF LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY. A circular was yesterday issued by the directors of Linlithgow Oil Company to the shareholders intimating that, at a meeting held yesterday, a resolution was adopted to suspend payment, and to call an extraordinary meeting of the shareholders to consider the advisability of winding up the company.

      The company was started in 1884 with a capital of £200,000, and its existence has for some time past been a precarious one. Up to yesterday morning no official intimation had been received at the Linlithgow works as to the resolution of the directors, whose meeting was held at Dunfermline.

      The company was formed in 1884, the directors being A. Landale J. Brownlie, A. Drysdale, K. R. Prentice, Sir C. Tennant, Bart., and J. Young. Of the authorised capital of £200,000 in £10 shares, £160,000 was called up. In 1890 and 1893 £50,000 each time (£2 10s per share) was written off the then capital, and the authorised capital is now £150,000 - £100,000 in ordinary shares of £5 and £50,000 in preference, shares of £1 (which rank first for 7 per cent, dividends, and take half the surplus profits after the Ordinary have received 5 per cent, per annum). Of the Ordinary capital £99,861 and of the Preference £27,206 have been issued and paid up There is also Debenture stock to the amount of £39,990, carrying 6 per cent, interest, payable May 15 and November 11. For the nine years to 1900-01j. there was no dividend on the Ordinary shares. At the close of 1895-96, it was decided to pay in two installments a dividend of 7 per cent, on the Preference shares (this having been the first declared on the Preference capital), and the first of these installments was paid, but owing to the action of the trustees for tho Debenture stockholders tho second installment was not paid, and no distribution was made for 1897-8, 1898-9 1899-1900, or 1900-1.

      In 1900-1 a credit balance of £1259 brought forward was converted into a debit, after providing for debenture and loan interest, of £3039. No allowance has been made in recent years for depreciation, except £5000 in respect of 1889-1900. In October, 1901, it was decided to increase the capital by £50,000, in 10 per cent. Preference shares of £1 each, for the purpose of installing new retorts, but the scheme fell through, and none of these were issued.

      It is stated that when the company was formed tho prospectus showed the shale in the properties to be rich, yielding upwards of thirty gallons of crude oil per ton. For some reason, which has never been properly cleared up. it was found in practice that the shale yielded only twenty gallons, and, during recent years, considerably less. There can be no room for doubt that to this great discrepancy in actual yield as compared with the original tests, on which the company was floated, the want of success is due. At the commencement the company also was unfortunate in its selection of distilling apparatus. What was known as the Henderson patent retort was erected, but very soon it was seen that a mistake had been mode, as the Young & Beilby retort had then catered the field and had shown results greatly superior to the plant erected in the Linlithgow Company's works. Soon after the commencement the company found itself in financial difficulties. The amount of existing shareholders' capital is £39.851 ordinary shares and £27,206 preference shares, and it is feared that on realisation it will be found that the whole, or nearly the whole, of this has disappeared. Taking it for granted that the holders of debenture stock are fully secured, which is not altogether certain, this means that a total sum of over £200,000 will have been lost from first to last. Besides the financial disaster involved, the company has probably about 600 workmen who will be thrown out of employment.

      The Edinburgh Evening News, 5th February 1902

  • Other newspaper references
    • LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY - The annual meeting of the Linlithgow Oil Company was held to-day in Edinburgh – Mr Landale presiding. The Chairman in moving the adoption of the report said the coal strikes has lost them a large sum of money, and another Director estimated the loss on that account at £3000. Mr Tait, C.A., said he was hopeful that a Bill would be introduced into Parliament prohibiting the importation of oils of low flash point.

      Evening Telegraph, 23rd May 1894


      THE AFFAIRS OF LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY - The report circulated yesterday as to the proposal to wind up Linlithgow Oil Company continues to excite much attention in the Linlithgow district. It can hardly be said, however, that the resolution of the directors has come as a surprise, because by shareholders and others something of this kind has been looked for for the past two years, and among commercial men the opinion is expressed that it might have been better had the directorate adopted such a course years ago. The works, which are situate on the estate of Champfleurie, about two miles from Linlithgow, occupy a considerable area, and give employment to hundreds of miners and oilworkers. The shale field is also extensive, and it said that some parts of it have not yet been operated upon. Quite recently a coal mine was opened up on the Ochiltree side, which belongs to Lord Rosebery, and it was thought that by this means a saving would be effected in the providing of fuel for the works. The mine, however, on which a considerable sum of money has been expended, was not a success. The feeling in Linlithgow is that the works will be kept in operation meantime. The works are the chief source of employment in Linlithgow district: the outlook is gloomy.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 5th February 1902


      THE KIRK AND LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY - Owing to the Linlithgow Oil Company, Ltd., having stopped operations, the new church which is almost completed at Kingscavil promises to be a veritable white elephant. The church was meant primarily to meet the wants of the people of the district, who were all practically engaged or connected with the oil works. The result is that while the people previously were without a suitable building to worship in, the church now almost completed is practically without a congregation. The prevailing wish of the district is that something should occur which will prevent the works being closed entirely. Yesterday officers of Court were again at the works, in connection with the sequestration proceedings, at the instance of Lord Roseberry and Captain Stewart of Champfleurie the proprietors of the shale field.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 12th February 1902


      LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY - Desirability of continued pumping - Lord Low ordered intimation and service of a note for John Scott and John Young, liquidators of the Linlithgow Oil Company, Limited, to sanction the continued working of the pumps necessary to prevent the flooding of the two pits at Champfleurie and Ochiltree, from which the shale let to the company has been extracted, and the submersion of the company's premises which would result if the pumps were stopped, until 13th March. The liquidators state that by that time it is expected the machinery, valued at £3770, which has not been sequestrated by the landlord, and which will be sacrificed if the working of the pumps were not continued, will have been brought to the surface.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 28th February 1902


      LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY'S STOPPAGE - Monday having been the last day for receiving offers in connection with the sale of the Linlithgow Oil Works, much speculation has been aroused as to what the outcome would be. Today a staff of workmen have been engaged in uplifting the rails in the mines connected with the works, and from that circumstance it is generally inferred that a final close down will follow immediately. The paraffin sheds and candle-making departments have been kept in operation, but even in those departments the number of hands has been reduced from week to week. The pumps have also been kept in operation at the mines, but it is expected that these will now cease as soon as the hutch roads have been cleared of the metals.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 3rd April 1902


      OPERATIONS AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS - The work of uplifting and removing the metals of the hutch roads in the mines connected with Linlithgow Oil Works, and which work has been going on from some weeks past, was brought to a finish on Saturday. To enable this to be done extra shifts had been worked, and it is now expected that the mines will be brought to a complete standstill. A number of workmen, however, are still employed in connection with the despatch of products still in stock, and this will probably continue until the stocks are exhausted. As to what may follow thereafter there is evidently a deal of uncertainty. Meantime families with their household effects continue to leave the town and the villages connected with the works almost every week, as many as five "flittings" having been despatched in one day. Thus the process of depletion goes on, leaving in its train a general feeling of depression in the burgh and neighbourhood.

      Falkirk Herald, 30th April 1902

  • Related file records
    • 143046 - The Linlithgow Oil Co Ltd Prospectus - The Linlithgow Oil Co Ltd Prospectus, dated 1884. Includes: a list of the directors; report on the shale fields of Champfleurie and Ochiltree by Messrs Landale, Frew & Landale, Mining Engineers, 16th April 1884; Report by J. Falconer King, City Analyst for Edinburgh, relative to Analysis of Shale from The Linlithgow Oil Company; Chemical report on 7 tones of the seam of shale known as the "Broxburn", received on account of Messrs The Linlithgow Oil Company; and 2 copies of Form of Application and Bankers' Receipt for The Linlithgow Oil Company Limited.