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Monday, 10 August 2009

even more about the Cassells and coal tar

ROADS AND PAVING

Another use of coal tar is in 'asphalt' for roads and pavements. This subject will be discussed later but it should be noted that John Henry Cassell patented a 'Cement or combination of materials, applicable to the purposes for which cement, stone, brick of other similar substances may be used'. This proposed the use of coal tar distillates for road surfaces and pavement – to quote the text of the patent itself.

Twenty years later, in 1853, he wrote a 'Treatise on Roads and Streets, where the advantages of a Patent Invention the Paving of Streets and the Making of Roads are fully explained'. This was primarily a sales document and in it John Henry describes his work and the uses for 'lava stone'. Sadly the price list is missing from the British Library copy.

LAMPS AND LIGHTING

Cassell also made lamps and provided the means of lighting them. He almost certainly had contracts for lighting because on one occasion he gave the fact that 'rental for lamps' had not been paid as the reason for his own non-payment of City Gas Company bills. The lighting may well have been oil based street lighting ‑ for which several systems were developed in this period.

It is also possible that Cassell had some sort of gas lighting plant himself. The evidence for this is confused and rests on an entry in the 1846 Poplar Rate book which records a gas factory on or near part of the site owned by Edwin Edward Cassell on Millwall. This 'factory' is identified by Survey of London, with some justification, as the Millwall Works of the Poplar Gas Company. However, the Poplar Company is not known to have had links with Cassell, and the rate books imply the site was his. E.V.Stewart30 located the Millwall Gas Works site much further south at Cahir Street. A large gasholder, shown on some maps but which probably belonged to a shipyard, may have confused Stewart. Whatever the truth about the Millwall Gas Works, if it can be gleaned from these tangled probabilities, it remains possible that Cassell had a small gas making plant that could have been used to make gas for lighting.

THE COMPANY CONTINUES

John Henry Cassell may have remained at his lava stone works into the 1860s and Edwin Edward Cassell operated his tar distillery until the 1880s. In addition a Mr. Bruce Cassell had an ammonia salt making plant on Millwall and a Frederick Cassell opened a naphtha and paraffin works in the 1870s at Plough Road in Rotherhithe. All of this seems to add up to a busy, inventive and successful family. They appear to have been local to east London - John Henry lived in the Commercial Road.

There is one strange coincidence. John Cassell, the publisher, of Belle Sauvage Yard off Ludgate Hill, held 1860s' patents on obtaining fuel from coal, peat, etc. and the carburation of gas. In 1862 he set up Cassell, Smith & Company, oil merchants and lamp manufacturers, who were involved with early petroleum. His Hydro-Carbon Oil Co. was based at Southall and Bow and he had a miniature oil refinery in his home. It seems remarkable that two people with the same name should have been in the same business - but Cassell, the publisher, is well documented. His biographer noted no Millwall relations.

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