Scottish shale Scottish shale

Robert Binning & Co.

Company number:
Not known
Share capital:
Not known
About 1863
Probably about 1872
Registered office:

103 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow; 123 Hope Street Glasgow (from 1869)

Oil works:

In October 1863 the co-partnership between George Miller and Robert Binning, trading as George Miller & Company, was dissolved. Miller continued as sole partner of George Miller & Company, manufacturing chemists and asphalters. At about the same time, the firm of Robert Binning & Sons was established as a partnership between Robert Binning and his son John Binning. Operating from Blochairn Chemical Works, production was initially based on refining coal tars and imported petroleum, but subsequently focussed in the refining of Scottish paraffin oils. The firm was listed in the Glasgow Post Office Directory between 1864 and 1870 as "coal tar and petroleum and paraffin oil distillers" and in 1871 simply as "paraffine oil makers".

The company appear to have established a national network of agents and sales offices by the late 1860s. Amongst their products was a patent "Diamond oil" lamp oil, criticised in court following a fatal accident in the north of England (see references, below). An "Excelsior" brand paraffin oil was also advertised.

Legal action was taken against the company in 1870 following pollution claims, and Blochairn works were closed, and their equipment sold off in 1873. By that time Robert and John Binning were partners in the Clippens Shale Oil Company, operating from Clippens Oil Works in Renfrewshire.


  • References
    • BinningAdverts.jpg

      THE Copartnership trading in Glasgow as Manufacturing Chemists and Asphalters, under the Firm of GEORGE MILLER & CO., (of which the Subscribers were sole Partners,) has been of this date, and of mutual consent, DISSOLVED, by the retirement therefrom of the Subscriber, Robert Binning. The Subscriber, George Miller, who is to continue in Business in the same premises, is authorised to collect the debts due to the former Company, and will liquidate its debts and obligations. GEO. MILLER. ROB. BINNING. (ADAM PATERSON, Witness), (DAVID D. BALFOUR, Witness) October 1, 1863.

      The Edinburgh Gazette, 2nd October 1863


      Yesterday, upwards of 80 of the employees of Messrs Robert Binning & Son, sat down at their Chemical Works, Blochairn, to a supper provided by the company in honour of the marriage of Robt. Binning, Esq. which took place in London yesterday. The chair was ably filled by Mr. Spencer, the manager of the works, supported by Mr. James Binning. The toasts proper for the occasion were proposed and heartily responded to. Song and sentiment prevailed, and the evening was spent most harmoniously. The company dispersed at a seasonable hour, highly gratified with the entertainment so handsomely provided.

      The Glasgow Herald 19th January 1866


      The jury retired, and after consulting for about three quarters of an hour, they returned the following verdict :—" We are of opinion that Mary and John Stokoe and two others came by their deaths by tbe upsetting and breaking of bottle containing two gallons of diamond oil, the same igniting from the fire. Also that the patentees, Robert Binning and Son, and their agent in Newcastle, Mr. Logan, have been highly negligent in not giving proper precautions to purchasers of the dangerous nature of the oil; and we consider the handbill published by the manufacturers calculated to mislead the public. We consider the oil, from its highly inflammable character, to be unfit for domestic use. We beg call the attention of the police, and the county magistrates to the illegality of moving such dangerous compounds.

      The Morpeth Herald, 26th September 1868