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Port Dundas Oil Works

Alternative names:
Port Dundas Paraffin Oil Works
Former parish and county:
Parish of Barony (later Maryhill), Lanarkshire
Local authority:
Glasgow city
"Paraffin Works" from 1865
Paraffin Works equipment dismantled 1874 or earlier
Current status of site:
Regional overview:


Redwood noted that Port Dundas Oil Works operated in 1866.

Valuation rolls for "Port Dundas Paraffin Oil Works" suggest that these works operated as a paraffin refinery by Robinson, Donald and Co during 1865-66; the site having previously used as a foundry and subsequently as a timber merchants. Robinson, Donald & Company also operated the Vulcan Oil Works, Port Dundas, and the Loanhead Oil Works in New Monkland.

The location of the works is uncertain. The Port Dundas area, and the industrial corridor around the Monkland Canal, was once the industrial heart of Glasgow. OS maps show a number of "oil works" in the area, and trade directories list a number of oil merchants based there during the mid-Victorian period. Most of these oil works are likely to be associated with natural oils, paint manufacture and other chemical production. Ownership and use of industrial premises changed regularly.

The first edition OS map, printed in 1865 suggests two possible sites for the Port Dundas Paraffin Oil Works. It shows a small premises in Port Dundas labelled "oil works" (55.873149, -4.256312), but also shows an iron foundry immediately east of Port Dundas distillery (55.872448, -4.253347) - valuation roles indicate the site of Port Dundas Paraffin Oil Works was previously used as a foundry.

The newspaper report (below) of a fire at the works of Peter Forbes & Co., Paraffin Oil Makers, in 1871 might relate to a different site in Port Dundas, fronting the canal and close to Port Dundas Distillery. The Glasgow Post Office Directory of 1871 lists Peter Forbes & Company, Port Dundas Oil Works, as paraffin oil manufacturers.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1865.

  • Rateable value by year
    • Date Rateable Value Owner Occupier Notes
      1861-2 £110 William Gilmour (Trustees of) William Gilmour (Trustees of) Foundry
      1863 £122 William Gilmour (Trustees of) William Gilmour (Trustees of) Foundry
      1864 £132 William Gilmour (Trustees of) A Cowie & Company
      1865-66 £132 Robinson Donald & Company Robinson Donald & Company Paraffin Works
      1867 £110 Robinson Donald & Company Robinson Donald & Company
      1868 £182 Robert Robinson Robert Robinson Timber Merchant
      1869 £182 Robert Robinson Robert Robinson Change to Parish of Maryhill
      1870-72 £182 Robert Robinson J & E Robinson
      1873-74 £182 John Wilson Robinson Edwin Robinson
      Only described as Paraffin Works 1865- 1866.
  • Location map
  • Detailed maps
  • Newspaper references
    • Destructive Fire at Port-Dundas - Damage estimated at £10,000. Last night, above a quarter to twelve o'clock, a most extensive conflagration broke out in a large oilwork situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal, near Port-Dundas. The works are owned by Messrs. Peter Forbes & Co., paraffin oil makers and manufacturing chemists, and cover an extent of ground fully 100 yards by 50. Fronting the canal is a warehouse, three storeys in height, to the rear of which is a large square yard, surrounded by a brick wall. This yard was stocked with barrels filled with oil, the total quantity of which on the premises is estimated to have amounted to between 40,000 and 50,000 gallons. A great portion of the oil is contained in iron tanks sunk some two feet under ground. The fire, when first discovered by the watchman, was burning with great intensity in the south-western corner of the yard, where was stored a large number of barrels. Information was at once conveyed to the Northern and the Central Fire Brigades, but it being without the city bounds, there was no immediate turn out. And as one of the partners, who arrived at the scene shortly after the outbreak, considering the uselessness of attempting to extinguish the burning oil by the ejection of water, declined to give a guarantee that the expense would be paid, no appearance was put in by Mr Bryson and his men. The fire continued to rage with great fury, and soon the entire work was one mass of flame, illuminating the sky for miles round. While we go to press, nothing but the bare walls remain, and the fire still rages. Few of the barrels of oil have been saved. As yet, the flames have not reached the oil in the tanks, but faint hopes are entertained that they shall escape the devouring element. The damage is estimated at £10,000, only half of which is covered by insurance in several offices. In close proximity is the large distillery of the Messrs Macfarlane & Co. Though not in immediate danger, the managers have already got steam up, and are prepared, if necessary, to flood the buildings with water.

      Glasgow Herald, 19th December 1871


      On Sale, the Port – Dundas Oil Works, situated on the canal bank, Port Dundas, well suited for a foundry, &c. Apply at Crawford Street Chemical Works, where the titles can be seen, and explanations given. Parties purchasing can have any part of the machinery at a valuation.

      Glasgow Herald, 1st June 1875


      A fire occurred on Saturday night at the oil work of Mr. John Parker, Port Dundas, Glasgow. Several tanks became ignited and the oil burned until yesterday morning. The damage is estimated at £6,000. Six months ago these works were wholly destroyed by fire.

      Royal Cornwall Gazette, 18th May 1883