Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Moderators: John, Sharon, Fossil, Lucky Poet, crusty_bint, Jazza, dazza

Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Anorak » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:01 pm

Glasgow's south side had its own petrochemical industry back in the 1860's based on the abundance of oil bearing black shale which can still be found lying on the banks of the White Cart Water in Linn Park.

Image
I discovered this strange structure on the opposite bank of the river to the Netherlee Print and Dye Works. I then did a bit of investigation to update my “White Cart Walkway” web page http://www.scotcities.com/cathcart/whitecartwalk.htm . Turns out that it is the well preserved remains of a “Kirk's vertical retort” used for the extraction of oil, gas and useful chemicals from the black shale The production process is fully described in the web page.

Image


The various fractions provided the local industries along the riverbank with oil for the cleaning and lubrication of plant and machinery as well as synthetic aniline dyes for the textile mills downstream at Pollokshaws described in my http://www.scotcities.com/cathcart/pollokshaws_auldhouse.htm page.

Image

I found this huge slab of black shale lying on the river bed when the water level was particularly low. Too big to take home but I did recover some loose fragments lying on the riverside.

Image

Strange that there is no mention of this industry and the surviving associated plant at the online databases of any of the bodies you would expect to have an interest, such as the West of Scotland Archaeology Service , Historic Scotland, RCAHMS or Glasgow City Council ?
Anorak
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:19 am

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby The Egg Man » Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:03 pm

Anorak wrote: ........................
Strange that there is no mention of this industry and the surviving associated plant at the online databases of any of the bodies you would expect to have an interest, such as the West of Scotland Archaeology Service , Historic Scotland, RCAHMS or Glasgow City Council ?


They're probably scared it'll damage house prices.

Where's Tony Robinson when you need him?
I hear the people sing.
The Egg Man
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 2702
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:07 pm

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby cell » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:34 pm

Great find and a great bit of digging to get the info! You should bring it to the attention of this site
http://www.scottishshale.co.uk/index.html
as they don’t seem to have any record of this and I’m sure they would be very intrested in the remains of the retort, there can’t be many of these left.
cell
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Vinegar Tom » Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:41 pm

Indeed. This needs to be recorded.
Glasgow ya bas!
User avatar
Vinegar Tom
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 2383
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2007 11:59 pm
Location: Trying to find the exit from Black Mesa

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Gerry B » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:02 pm

Brilliant Work
The Last Time I looked In The Mirror! I Was Still There......
User avatar
Gerry B
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 154
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:39 pm
Location: South Lanarkshire Now...

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Anorak » Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:04 am

Cheers guys!

cell wrote:Great find and a great bit of digging to get the info! You should bring it to the attention of this site
http://www.scottishshale.co.uk/index.html
as they don’t seem to have any record of this and I’m sure they would be very intrested in the remains of the retort, there can’t be many of these left.


I wouldn't be surprised if it is the only vertical shale oil retort still in existence as it was obsolete technology by 1880 according to my primary source published in 1906, from which I identified its purpose. This form of shale oil retort was developed by Alexander Carnegie Kirk, engineering manager to James “Paraffin” Young. This design superseded the horizontal retort previously used by Young.

Image

It only survived in good nick by being in a literal backwater which avoided any twentieth century development. There would be no good reason for any other piece of such obscure plant to be left in place after it ceased to be useful?

You can see an exposed part of the distillation column near the base of the structure at the back.
Image

There was no textile industry on this stretch of the White Cart, so presumably the Netherlee Dye Works were used for the production of the newly fashionable chemical dyes used for the cotton cloth manufactured in the extensive textile mills further downstream at Pollokshaws and Paisley?
Anorak
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:19 am

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Lucky Poet » Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:40 am

Anorak wrote:
cell wrote:Great find and a great bit of digging to get the info! You should bring it to the attention of this site
http://www.scottishshale.co.uk/index.html
as they don’t seem to have any record of this and I’m sure they would be very intrested in the remains of the retort, there can’t be many of these left.


I wouldn't be surprised if it is the only vertical shale oil retort still in existence...

It's a pretty remarkable find, for sure. It's very possible that there are no other shale oil retorts of any sort still in existence in Scotland at all - the closest thing I'm aware of is some massive left-over brick plinths out at Tarbrax, from a later time.

You should tell RCAHMS as well - I'm sure they'd be very interested.
All the world seems in tune on a Spring afternoon, when we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
User avatar
Lucky Poet
-
-
 
Posts: 4161
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:15 am
Location: Up a close

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby cell » Sat Nov 02, 2013 3:47 pm

Anorak, I’m not sure if you contacted the Scottish Shale site but I thought it was an important find so I did. I received the following response which does seem to poor cold water on it, however in the absence of an alternative explanation I’m inclined to keep a more open mind. Perhaps if you had some more details, pictures, dimensions, exact location etc he might reconsider. (If you could post an exact location I would like to visit myself) For me it doesn’t appear to be concrete and I’m not sure if he has spotted the outlet pipe at the top, also I can’t see how he can determine if the internal column is not cast iron (large diameter steel pipes are a relatively new invention)

“Thanks xxx; an intriguing find.
We've not come across any historical reference to an oil works in Linn Park, or anywhere else in the general vicinity, during the course of our researches for www.scottishshale.co.uk. However small-scale oil works were built in some surprising locations during the "oilmania" of the 1860's to exploit a wide variety oil and coal shales.
Most early vertical retorts were constructed in "benches" containing at least four cast iron retorts encased within substantial brickwork, and incorporating one or more furnaces with stoke holes. The arrangement allowed the hot gasses from the furnaces to be drawn through voids between the brickwork structure and the cast iron retort vessels to effect a controlled heating of the shale or coal within the cast iron vessel. This controlled heat promoted the release of a crude oil vapour.
From what I can judge from the photographs, the structure in Linn Park seems to be constructed of concrete rather than brick, and appears to be an isolated pillar rather than a more substantial bench of retorts, as might be expected. I see no evidence of flues or voids within the pillar, and the "distillation column" pictured doesn't appear of sufficient diameter to have served as a retort, nor gives the appearance of being an iron casting.
I love the idea of discovering an unknown oil retort in a leafy part of Glasgow, but I'm afraid that I see no evidence that the structure has any association with oil production. Sorry.
best wishes
Robin
I'd be grateful if you could consider posting this response on your (his assumption)excellent site.
Dr Robin Chesters, Director
Almond Valley Heritage Trust,
Millfield, Livingston
West Lothian EH54 7AR”
cell
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 470
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Anorak » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:57 am

cell wrote:If you could post an exact location I would like to visit myself

Cheers cell. The location is 55.8026 -4.2644

I didn't contact any official organisation because in my experience they don't appreciate amateurs “meddling” in their expert fields and upsetting accepted wisdom.
If the mysterious structure has the same shape, size and pipework as a Kirk's Vertical Retort, I suspect that is what it is.
Image


Dr Chesters wrote: appears to be an isolated pillar rather than a more substantial bench of retorts, as might be expected

Kirk's retort used an “isolated pillar”!
Why would the plant here have to be on the massive scale as the plant used in the West Lothian shale oil industry, as our expert seems to be suggesting?
If they were obsolete in 1880, when was the last time anyone saw one in use?

Leaves a lot more questions than answers!

If it is not the remains of a Kirk's Vertical retort, what is it?
Looking at the diagram, the outlet pipe and the steam inlet are in the correct positions.
It is approximately 10 feet high, as the specification from my 1906 extract states.
It has the same shape as the published diagram.
Why would it be situated on a riverside beside a dyeworks?
What alternative uses would the local water, coal and shale have for the dyeworks?
Would these resources not be exploited on a small scale to produce aniline dyes from the solid residues of distillation?


Dr Chesters wrote: love the idea of discovering an unknown oil retort in a leafy part of Glasgow, but I'm afraid that I see no evidence that the structure has any association with oil production. Sorry.


Ho Ho! How very condescending, Why not?

I don't really think its all that mysterious, but if anyone has got answers to the above questions, I will gladly update my web page.
Anorak
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:19 am

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby robertpool » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:11 pm

found this while researching the West Kilpatrick Gas Company .. you may find it quite interesting reading

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin ... id&id=I563
check out my Glasgow collection at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertpool/sets/
robertpool
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 1036
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:46 am
Location: Glasgow

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Icecube » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:38 pm

For whats its worth I think it was a small scale operation refining shale mined locally.

Collierys would mine anything that would make money - no choice if it was found to be in the way of the main mineral wrought - and if sufficient quantities of shale were found in a mine then it would be mined along with coal or whatever else was found in the workings. For instance there was a coal pit in Paisley called the Blackstone which mined shale as well as coal, limestone and ironstone. So this operation could well have got supplies from local pits who removed quantities of shale.

I think the existence of the retort is undeniable evidence of small scale shale refining.
Icecube
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 370
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:22 pm

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Lucky Poet » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:04 pm

Nice link, Mr Pool.

It's a curious thing for sure, and the good Dr raises a couple of good points: it does look like concrete to me too I’m afraid, and you’d expect to see cavities inside. Plus, going by the diagram, that looks too close to the surface to be the distillation column. More photos would be good.

It’s also a bit troubling that it doesn’t show up on any maps from back when (not that that’s conclusive one way or another), and it would surely be odd for it to be isolated on the other side of the river – why not have it in the grounds of the works it served?

On the other hand, in other respects it does look an awful lot like the diagram, and your own points are very good, Icecube. So, if it is an old vertical retort then it’s quite unusual, and it needs some explanation; if it’s not, then what on earth is it?
All the world seems in tune on a Spring afternoon, when we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
User avatar
Lucky Poet
-
-
 
Posts: 4161
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 1:15 am
Location: Up a close

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby Icecube » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:04 pm

What has Anorak found?

1. A structure looking remarkably like a Kirk's vertical retort.

2. Physical evidence of shale lying around the banks and in the river bed.

Now I'd say that in spite of the message from the worthy Dr. Chesters that we have the basis of a valid case of some kind of small scale refining on the banks of the White Cart here.

The concrete obviously is not in keeping with a traditional structure of course as Lucky Poet points out but I see that as a minor deviation because its what is inside that matters.

One more thing. This structure is likely to be taller than it looks as soil creep over the years down the slope might well be hiding its true base.
Icecube
Second Stripe
Second Stripe
 
Posts: 370
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:22 pm

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby moonbeam » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:51 pm

If that is a steel tube rather than cast iron then I am afraid it is two recent to be a retort.
moonbeam
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 449
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:32 am

Re: Petrochemicals from Linn Park

Postby BTJustice » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:07 pm

Intrigued by this find and by the fact I have passed it many times and not paid it much attention I had a cycle up to have a better look for myself today.

The structure itself is easy enough to get to;

Image

For scale here is a shot with my bike resting against it;

Image

I climbed up one side to get a shot of the top to see if it provided any clues but there are no openings;

Image

Here is the pipe work sticking out at the top along with some other metal work.

Image

From my quick look I was having my doubts about it being a retort and here is my reasoning.

From the diagram of the retort above there needs to be space for the collection tank and for a boiler to supply steam. Both of these would be in the river if this was a retort.

There is no sign of in fill where the water seal trough would have been.

There is no sign of access roads, service buildings or storage areas around it.

And as much as I wanted to believe there was historic significance to this structure I believe this view will help you come to the same conclusion as I have.

Image

There you can see a similar structure on the opposite bank.

Image

I cycled round to the opposite bank for a look;

Image

It looks like this side is made from the same quality of concrete;

Image

Image

So I am now thinking that it is nothing more than a concrete base for a bridge carrying a water pipe over the river but I would love to be proven wrong.

Dave
Check oot ma flickr page;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/route9autos/

The West of Scotland VW club.
http://www.vwscotclub.co.uk

For handmade jewellery, go to:
http://www.weegemjo.co.uk
User avatar
BTJustice
Third Stripe
Third Stripe
 
Posts: 1565
Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2006 5:57 pm
Location: Cathcart

Next

Return to Hidden Glasgow Projects

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests