HEAT & LIGHT
Five displays brought together
†for Penicuik Community Development Trust Open House
ĆObjects on show: lamps & lighthouses
HEAT & LIGHT
OUTSIDE AND IN
CLOSE UP of †BURNER, AIR CHAMBER
& INJECTOR of the
Ā Superheater Allows multiple mantles to be mounted together
ā Mixing tube†† Where the gas is mixed with the air as they flow
É Airchamber Air is drawn in and entrained by the flow of gas
Ą Ejector †††† Small hole through which the gas flows at speed
Ö Air regulator Sliding band round air chamber -adjust by knob.
Ü Gas regulator Needle adjusts from outside to control the gas
á By-pass†††††††††††††††††† Pilot light for igniting the burner.
Twin 12-gaslight London Lamps clearly showing the Raising and Lowering Gear
éMid-Lothian shale oil & the story of William Young
oil production was already well established from animal, vegetable and mineral
sources, including the balm bearing deposits around Loanhead.† Smith's "Royal Standard Lamp Oil" (sold in
WILLIAM YOUNG (1840-1907)
Although the Scottish paraffin industry had been started near Bathgate by James ďParaffinĒ Young (1811-1883, no relation), after the 1860s onwards the Scottish mineral oils were being outclassed in price or quality by the products of American crude. William Young, the son of John Young, manager of the Selkirk and Dalkeith Gas Works was appointed to manage the small gasworks at Lasswade. William's inventiveness led to trials at the gasworks in Goat Brae to see if he could produce oil and gas from colliery waste.
Taking this up in a bigger way at Whitehill Colliery, Rosewell, and later backed by Peter Brash of Leith and the Clippens Oil Company, William Young began to develop better retorts "in which the gas is made to do service" to extract more and higher quality oil and more useful by-products. His Young & Beilby retort patented in association with George Beilby of Oakbank became the industry standard. The high quantities of useful saleable ammonia that it yielded as a by-product made the Scottish industry able to beat international competition in the decades that followed. William's emphasis on maximum recovery from waste became a hallmark of Scottish technology.
As Michael Cotteril states in the Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography: "William was a second generation gasworks engineer with a technological and entrepreneurial flair which gave him a pre-eminence in the industry and a widespread practice as a consultant engineer. A brilliant industrial chemist whose work was his hobby, William had no time for frivolities or outside interests. His retiring nature shunned the publicity that would have dispelled his obscurity. Despite this disposition, technical editor Walter King found him a 'very human, warm hearted, true friend, and transparently honest of purpose.' Enthusiasm, a piercing intellect and remarkably retentive memory kept William at the forefront of developments. One of the greatest authorities on destructive distillation of coal and shale, he also specialised in by-product recovery and fractional distillation and gasification of oils. From 1893 until his death he was a close adviser to the Government Alkali Inspector, R F Carpenter."
investment pattern in the Scottish gas industry left little scope for talented
engineers to profit from their skills by direct ownership. Like waterworks,
heavy investment in immovable distribution pipes made monopoly supply the most
cost-effective and inhibited rivalry or forced competitors into price-fixing
agreements. Monopoly was normal, but was only tolerated uneasily by consumers,
from companies owned largely by numerous resident consumer-investors, or
municipal authorities. William had other ideas. Bright gas engineers profited
mainly as consultants, employed to plan and perhaps
supervise construction or alteration of gasworks elsewhere in
Father John Young and the Selkirk gas works where William grew up in the 1840s
William's earliest childhood recollection, perhaps due
to the smell, was of his father experimenting with a water-gas process carburetted with fish-oil. As well as managing Selkirk and
then Dalkeith gasworks, father John designed many gasworks, including one at
†Valleyfield Mill, Penicuik 150 years ago. The millís gasworks also supplied the town in the early days†
lives of William's sister and brothers revolved around the new gas and oil
technologies. For example Williamís Orkney-born schoolmaster brother-in-law George
Firth Cusiter took over at Dalkeith gasworks in
John Cowan and
As Cotteril points out: "In youth William assisted his father's extensive practice of analysing the gas potential of coals. and paraffin oil in shales, for industrialists. He may also have helped in experimental projects and with planning the improved water-supply for Dalkeith. Science was an exciting novelty in the household. John was one of the first Scots to make artificial carbons for electricity, and gave public lectures on electricity, chemistry and optics. William certainly assisted with winter evening-classes in science which his father ran at home for young Dalkethians."
"William was an idealist and hater of waste.
Brought up under Puritan influences, and suffering moderately weak health
throughout his life, he later rejected religious dogma yet was considered
extremely high principled and a friend to many in
need." "During the mid 1850s, William gained the patronage of Peter
Brash a soap, candle and oil manufacturer with Messrs Wm Taylor & Co of
then became an apprentice gasfitter or 'plumber', under Lasswade
gas manager Alexander Bell (1836-1910).
Dalkeith Gasworks beside Fairfield House†††††††††††††† evening classes, Scientific Hall, Dalkeith††††††††††††††††††† Alexander Bellís Gibraltar Gasworks
William soon experimented with bituminous blind-shale and blaes being discarded as waste by Hoodís Rosewell colliery, and obtained 9,000 cu ft of gas per ton. Then, from oil shales came a rich 30 candle power gas and good paraffin. Unable to persuade his Lasswade Gas Company directors to permit large-scale low temperature distillation in improved retorts, for both paraffin and gas, William got permission from Archibald Hood to build a small crude-oil works at Rosewell.
"Without a market for the gas, some was burned as fuel to heat the horizontal retorts but most was wasted. This inspired William's attempts to minimise gas production and maximise oil, and led to the study of retort design which remained central throughout his life. Improvements came with deep 'charges' of shale reducing air-spaces, and false-bottomed retorts to prevent the furnace gasifying oil droplets. Real success only came with vertical retorts and the replacement of steam-injection by 'exhauster' fans blowing incondensible gas down the retort to flush all oil-vapour out through its base."
"About 1866 William left Lasswade gasworks to become Brash's manager at Messrs Taylor's oilworks in Musselburgh, and Oakbank, Straiton. Oil companies proliferated after the expiry of 'Paraffin' Young's exclusive patent (1850-1864) and stiff competition was increased by the scarcity of good quality oil shales which rapidly rose in price. Moreover, imports of North American crude oil, exploited since 1859, pushed British oil price down heavily in 1866. The industry still used horizontal retorts which baked and discoloured the oil, making it unattractive to customers. Retorts were small and furnaces large, wasting fuel, causing rapid deterioration of retorts, and preventing the recovery of ammonium by-products which were increasingly profitable at gasworks."
Unsuccessful vertical retorts had been tried much
earlier, for coal gas by William Murdoch, and by Barnet in 1829, and for oil by 'Paraffin' Young in
"Brash financed further development in return for half of the profits, and became joint patentee with William in 1866. William soon sold his share of the retort patent for £3,000, but Brash later made more when it was quite widely adopted. William's new retort of 1868 achieved the ideal uniform low red heat which 'Paraffin' Young had advocated 20 years earlier but had been unable to maintain. Some, with an expensive double-casing, were erected at Oakbank in 1871. George Beilby, works chemist at Oakbank from 1869, recalled fierce controversy between proponents of horizontal and vertical retorts. In 1872 William patented a better, single-casing design using 'spent shale' at the bottom as fuel to heat the top. By burning residual carbon this curtailed the public nuisance of smouldering shale-bings. Retort labourers found it too complex and William lost his rewards to a similar but simplified version by N. M. Henderson in 1873, which swept the industry."
George Beilby started scientific work at Oakbank††††††††††††† one of William Youngís patent oil shale retorts
"At Oakbank, Beilby was obliged to operate both types and from 1878 began improving William Young's design. William joined Clippens Oil Company of Paisley in 1874 and ran their experimental plant at Straiton, using low temperatures to recover ammonia.Ē
William Young's Clippens Oil Company offices at Straiton [D Kerr]
ďLater, with Alex Bell Snr, who became its chief engineer, he designed a large new oilworks for them at New Pentland. In 1877 he patented a process to manufacture petrol, then called gazolene, but in the absence of petrol-engines its main use was to make an illuminating gas called carburetted air, using a small apparatus suitable for private houses."
Clippens Oil Company houses : Thousands of oil barrels await rail dispatch at Straiton in 1895 [British Library]
William lit his Bilston home
-Seafield Villa- and adjacent houses in
this way. Seeking other avenues for his talents, he promoted an early form of
management buy-out by leading technologists in the gas industry. With four
partners in 1878 he acquired and revitalised the
Many of William's researches took decades to reach fruition. With his brother-in-law George Cusiter at Dalkeith, William tested paraffin-oil anti-freeze for consumers' water-filled gas-meters after the havoc of frosts in 1860/61 and showed these light oils were unsuitable. They absorbed some illuminating constituents, but because these could be released again by volatisation, oil-washing became later valuable for by-products recovery from waste shale-oil gas.
continues: "Virtually all coal-gas in
"ln 1874 a full scale experiment to produce coal gas in four large vertical retorts was made at Musselburgh gasworks, managed by family friend Andrew Scott. Non-caking Scottish coal suited vertical retorts with great potential advantages, particularly reduced heat loss and deterioration, and automatic gravity feed instead of slow and skilful manual emptying and recharging. Failure resulted from water-gas dilution, and inadequate heat without C. W. Siemens' revolutionary producer-gas furnaces and heat- regenerators. At Straiton, with Alex Bell Jnr, William developed a radically improved two-phase version of his shale-oil retort with steam injection to recover ammonia. Beilby also had devised improvements and in 1881 they collaborated to make the famous Pentland Retort, with producer and regenerators. This doubled ammonia recovery, improved paraffin yield, resuscitated the industry, and made William wealthy. He retired to Priorsford House, Peebles, as a consultant engineer."
William (far left) with his mother (centre), brothers and their families outside his home at Priorsford. Peebles
Williamís housekeeper ďBlack AgnesĒ stands opposite at far right, his sister Mary and brother John beside her.
"For John Fyfe of James Young's Paraffin Co he sought methods of making permanent oil-gas from low value heavy-oils. Helped again by Alex Bell Jnr, then gas manager at Peebles, his very successful 'Peebles Process' of high-candle power enrichment for coal-gas found an eager market since best cannel coal used for enrichment had become very scarce and expensive in 1892. To market it, William formed the Oil Gas Enrichment Co in 1893 [with George Beilby and sixteen other oil and gas engineers]. The process was used at 30 gasworks by 1896, including the main Scottish towns, but William's work on an improved version in 1893 permanently damaged his health."
"Many gasworks had adopted horizontal 'regenerative' retorts with higher temperatures causing unwanted naphthalene deposits. Samuel and Thomas Glover, who had used the Peebles Process at St Helens gasworks, visited William for advice about this and with him visited several oil works. They were so impressed with vertical retort efficiency that they persuaded him to help them design vertical gas retorts. The first Glover-Young retort of 1905 gave high caloric gas, coke and by-products, and became a market leader."
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††William Young with his mother Christian Clapperton (1815-1902)
In his later years, William was an enthusiast for gas engines. The company who had produced his gas meter designs, Milneís of Milton House Works in the Canongate, helped to produce them. A powerful gas engine was installed in the Catcune flour mills of William's nephew at Fushiebridge and was the mainstay of production there for many years. William Young died in broken health in 1907.† William Young left Harehope Farm at Eddleston to Peebles Town Council for use as a sanitarium. George Beilby led the oil and gas world at his funeral, and one obituarist had this to say:
"Though the death of Mr. William Young, of Peebles, yesterday afternoon was not unexpected, the feeling of regret to which the removal from our midst of so distinguished a man gives rise is just as strong as if it had come suddenly upon us. I have known Mr. Young for twenty years -latterly much more intimately than at the first. Like everyone else, I was never in his company but I learned something from him. He was a man for whom the frivolities of life had no attraction. Yet he was one of the happiest of men whenever he found anyone willing to discuss with him some of the problems he had always seething in his mind. It was interesting to hear him relate how he advanced from point to point in the consideration of a particular subject. He was ignorant of finality. When he had reached a certain stage, that was to him firm and sure ground; next time you saw him he was farther on. and saw the thing from a different standpoint. yet maintaining the continuity of his inquiry. The subjects that were next his heart were also on the tip of his tongue. He could speak without cessation upon them, but let him be asked to (say) propose a vote of thanks, and he could not command the language to do it. Probably this quality of his character was accentuated by the state of his health. which shut him out from all sociality, and drove him to his study and his laboratory. For a man who was nearly all his life far from being robust, the amount of work which he accomplished was amazing."
"This country -
BP Scottish Oils Refinery at Pumpherston around 1950
Ėa range of products from Scottish shale
[For more about
the rise and fall of the shale oil industry in
ŹOil and candles from
Making candles from Scottish shale oils
Wax from Scottish shale.†††††††††††††††† Oil lamp†††††††††††††† .
źRichard Brunton: Japan lighthouses and Scottish oil: wallboards
RICHARD HENRY BRUNTON
Henry Brunton was born on
did Richard Henry Brunton carry out his early
training? Almost certainly he spent some time in
was the moment when
Brunton at once began a crash
course in lighthouse technology in the
Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911)
after arriving in
Brunton, meanwhile, set about the construction of a series of 28 lighthouses.
Kashinozaki 1869††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †Tsunoshima 1876
Richard Henry Bruntonís first and last lighthouses in Japan
Lighthouse Department to which Brunton was appointed
was based in
Brunton's surveys for the
lighthouse service awakened a Japanese desire for further trigonometrical
work, and a vessel was obtained to accompany H.M.S. Sylvia on marine surveying
service. Orders were given to bring out theodolites,
quadrants and other drawing instruments from
Alexander McVean was employed by the Imperial
Government to carry out surveys. He had married Mary, daughter of the Penicuik
papermaker Alexander Cowan, in 1868.†
Trained by MacCallum & Dundas
civil engineers of Edinburgh, McVean had spent some
years on the Admiralty Survey of the Hebrides, giving his name to McVean Rock off Eriskay, and had
also gained engineering experience in the Ottoman Empire in the Black Sea port
and telegraph hub of Varna.† Invited to
Mary and Harriet, the two daughters of Richard and
Elizabeth Brunton, were born in
Transactions of the Asiatic Society of
McVean, Brunton was back in
James Young, friend and supporter of David Livingstone and founder of Youngís Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Co.
†Based at Bathgate and Addiewell, the companyís operations were managed by Richard Henry Brunton in James Youngís later years
man who could turn his hand to construction, mechanics and lighting on a grand
scale, Brunton later worked as an architect designing
theatres and hotels. For the Edinburgh-based Mossís Empire group he designed
Dublinís elaborate Olympia Theatre designed by Richard Henry Brunton
his dogged determination and far-sightedness, his energy, conscientiousness, toughness
and courage, Richard Henry Brunton amazingly passed
into obscurity in the years leading up to death. He died at
The ďCPĒ Screen Fire
The Screen Fire is a portable gas fire intended to be simply placed in an existing fireplace.
It is plugged in to the 'gas poker point' always provided beside the hearth of a coal fire to enable it to be easily and quickly lit!
More about Penicuik Community Development Trust††† †