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British Industrial History

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Young, Meldrum and Binney

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Messrs. Young, Meldrum and Binney, paraffin oil works of Bathgate

1851 James Young and his partners, E. W. Binney, a Manchester lawyer, and Edward Meldrum, opened an oilworks at Bathgate; the plant was constructed for them by John Scott of Inverkeithing[1]. The first products were naphtha and various lubricants made from distillation of cannel coal from Boghead.

At the Great Exhibition, as well as Tennant's own exhibit, their manager Mr Young was recorded as also being a separate exhibitor; he showed his apparatus for making stannate of soda for calico printing, oils for lubricating machines from a mine in Derbyshire and a sample of paraffin made by slow combustion of coal[2].

Sales of their products were through 2 agents, John Young, brother of James, in Glasgow, and James Hurst and Co in Manchester; James Young also took offices in Glasgow from where he was responsible for shipping oils to Liverpool, Manchester and Belfast.

By 1855 paraffin for lamps had become more profitable; paraffin wax was sold from 1856 and in quantity for candles from 1859.

Young was involved in many legal actions to protect his rights

1861 Alexander Carnegie Kirk was appointed engineering manager. He constructed the first practical, atmospheric refrigerating-machine and subsequently designed and erected new works at West Calder, involving the sinking of shale pits and the construction of a branch line from the railway.

1862-3 Peak production of pure coal oil was achieved of 2 million gallons in the year[3]

1864 James Young broke with his partners and subsequenty established a new works at Addiewell/West Calder (see Youngs Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Co).

1865 In respect of Bathgate Chemical Works: '...Copartnership hitherto subsisting between the Subscribers, the sole Partners, in the business of Paraffine Oil and Paraffine Manufacturers, &c., at Bathgate, Glasgow, and elsewhere, under the firms of E. W. Binney and Co., and E. Meldrum and Co., respectively, expires this day, and is now dissolved. The business will in future be carried on by Mr. Young on his own account, and he is authorised to collect all outstanding debts and discharge all outstanding liabilities of the copartnership now dissolved. James Young, Ed. Meldrum and Edw. Wm. Binney.[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Butt PhD thesis on James Young
  2. The Morning Post, 10 May 1851
  3. [2] Butt PhD thesis on James Young
  4. The Edinburgh Gazette, 3 January 1865
  • Biography of Alexander Kirk by John Mavor, ODNB [3]