HISTORY OF COALITE
From brochure. Coalite 1917-1992 75 Anniversary
1906 The Low Temperature Carbonisation Process patented by Thomas Parker. A sample of Coalite submitted to the City to raise money. As a result Coalite Ltd formed and a temporary supply of Coalite produced from lengths of stove pipes filled with coal and rolled through a heated furnace, while research on a form of retort for commercial production continued.
1907 Wednesfield Construction Company formed to produce castings of retorts. Foundry and machine shops built. First plant built to house equipments to deal with coal. Coalite and by-products created during the process. Plant included power house with gas engines and dynamos to make use of the gas. British Coalite Ltd formed and purchased Wednesfield Construction Company.
1909 Plant erected at Plymouth Gas Works to use
Erection of large plant at Barking
1911 British Coalite Ltd placed into liquidation and Wednesfield Works closed.
1915 Thomas Parker dies (1843 – 1915).
Barnsley Smokeless Fuel Company formed.
1917 Low Temperature Carbonisation Ltd, the forerunner of Coalite Smokeless Fuels, formed and takes over Barnsley Smokeless Fuel Company.
THE EARLY YEARS
1921-23 New money found and Low Temperature Construction formed to manufacture retorts etc.
Attempts made to build continuous retorts without success.
1923-25 Two batteries of Parker’s retorts built at Barugh near Barnsley and successfully run. Despite the directors’ optimism, the company again ran out of money and operations ceased.
1926 Charles Parker, Thomas Parker’s son, invited to design a plant and two batteries successfully operated
Col Whiston A Bristow appointed Managing Director.
1927 First commercial Coalite plant at Barugh completed. Output up to 70 of capacity. Sir Arthur Wheeler appointed Chairman
1928 Barugh plant in full operation
1929 Work began on building a new plant at East Greenwich, to be Operated under licence by the South Metropolitan Gas Company
The plant at Barugh equipped to distil coal oil and produce petrol
The Company won the ‘Rogers Field Medal’ form the Royal Sanitary Institute – only the third time the award made in 30 years.
Lt. Commander Colin Buist elected to the Board.
1930 Petrol successfully produced by making coal oil at the Killington refinery of Petroleum Refineries Ltd.
304 retorts now in full production at Askem
1931 Col W A Bristow appointed Chairman and Managing Director.
Works at East Greenwich completed and handed over to South Metropolitan Gas Company.
Due to demand. Askern’s capacity increased by 50 with 72 additional retorts. Production at the three 11 smokeless fuel 225,680 tons; crude oil 26,000 tons, petrol 800,000 gallons, gas 1.20-million cubic feet.
1933 141 lb bags of Coalite introduced for flat dwellers and people with limited storage space – the first pre-pack in the UK
Terms agreed with Carless Capel & Leonard to refine and distribute coal petrol under the name ‘Carless-Coaline’. After tests the RAF’s Northolt Squadron are the first to fly on the fuel.
The Admiralty completes successful trials of Coalite fuel oil.
Agreement reached with La Societe de Carbonisation et de Distillation de Combustibles to build plants and produce Coalite at approved collieries in France under liecence. A demonstration plant built at Lens.
1934 Askern works extended by one third
All petrol produced supplied to the Royal Air force
The refining of Coalite diesel successfully completed.
The Formative Years
1935-1940 Barugh, Askem and East Greenwich now carbonizing 7,000 tons of coal a week
20 squadrons of the RAF flying on Coalite petrol
Tom Williams MP opens the first petrol pump at a filling station on the Brompton Road in London serving petrol made from coal.
IC1 now producing additional petrol from coal oil using a process called hydrogenation.
1936 New coal oil and chemical plant erected at Barugh. Commissioned in April
Bolsover Works opened – production commenced 12th November.
1937 Bolsover Works officially opened 14th April by the Duke of Kent. The largest plant of its kind in the world’.
1939 Wern Tarw Works in South Wales opened.
Due to warm weather an extensive national advertising campaign undertaken, resulting in a 46% increase in sales.
13 May – Chemical Works at Bolsover opened
The Years of Consolidation 1940 – 1970
1946 Concern over coal supplies due to nationalisation, although Government states Coalite will not be nationalised
1947 Company nationalised on Vesting Day. Works privatised the following day.
1949 Col W.A. Bristow dies. Lt. Commander Colin Buist appointed Chairman
Company renamed Coalite and Chemical Products
Wem Tarw Works closed
1950 Ten cities and towns establish smokeless zones. Coventry is the first followed by Manchester
Barugh Works, inoperative since the Second World dismantled and sold
Charles Parker retires from the board James Stephens, one of the pioneers of the company, dies after 20 years working in sales.
The London smog of December brings the issue of smokeless zones into the headlines. 4,000 people died. Deaths from bronchitis increased 9 fold and pneumonia 4 fold
1955 Three new batteries installed at Bolsover Works and a £900,000 expansion of the refinery started
1956 Clean Air Act passed by Parliament
Refurbishment of Askem completed.
1959 Over 500 smoke control orders have been made since the Clean Air Act introduced.
1961 New subsidiary purchased – Duramis Fuels Ltd producing oil additives
1962 New Research Centre opened at Bolsover
Askem ‘s output increased by the addition of six new batteries. A further three three new batteries introduced at Bolsover
1965 Work commences on building a new works at Grimethorpe, near Barnsley
Excise duty on home produced motor fuel increased. making the production of Coalite petrol and diesel uneconomic
1966 October – first batteries commissioned at Grimethorpe and a new wing is added to Head Office at Bolsover.
1967 Company celebrates its Golden Jubilee.
1970 After expansion programmes Bolsover comprises 24 batteries and Grimethorpe 36 batteries
Commander Colin Buist retires and given the title of President of the company.Francis Waring appointed Chairman.
THE RECENT PAST 1971-1991
1971 Siemens Oil & Gas Oil (UK) Ltd formed of which Coalite had a 11% share holding to carry out seismic surveys and oil exploration.
1972 After a public enquiry Rossington Works opened with 20 batteries. Solid Fuel Advisory Service established.
1973 Grimethorpe’s production capacity reduced by 12 batteries.
1975 The Rt.Hon. The Viscount Ward of Witley appointed Chairman
Due to declining sales production ceased at Rossington and reduced at Grimethorpe.
1980 Ted Needham appointed Chairman.
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Coalite Group expanded. Businesses included builders merchants, car distributors, fuel and oil distributors, solid fuel distributors, specialist vehicle manufacturers, transport and warehousing companies, docks and shipping interests, instrument manufacturers, oil production and exploration and substantial interests in the Falkland Islands.
1981 Coalite Smokeless Fuels formed to operate Randolph Coke and Chemical Co Ltd purchased bringing high temperature carbonization into the company’s operations.
1982 All stocks of coke at Randolph sold.
First sales of Coalite to Ireland
1984 Eric Varley appointed Chairman,
Randolph Works closed due to collapse in hard coke markets resulting from a world recession in the steel industry
1986 Askem Works closed. Production transferred to Grimethorpe and Bolsover
1987 Rexeo acquired from the National Carbonising Company Ltd.
1989 Rexco Works at Ollerton closed, more than 80 of sales transferred to Coalite’s order books.
The Coalite Group Plc purchased by Anglo United PLC
Coalite Smokeless Fuels formed to operate the carbonizing works at Bolsover and Grimethorpe as as a separate trading division
1990 Burnie the Coalite dragon created
Coalite sponsor the World Matchplay Snooker Championships
1991 Coalite sponsor the world’s oldest classic horse race – The St Leger.