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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Thomas Dalton and the Poplar Tar Works

To return to the Chartered Gas Company's Poplar Tar Works, closed as a failure and sold to Turner, Shakell and Hopkinson….. who were Turner, Shakell and Hopkinson and what happened to them?


The partnership at Orchard Place does not seem to have lasted very long because later directory entries only mention a Mr. Turner. In 1839 a William Hopkinson was an oil and colourman in The Barbican while Shackell and How were printing ink, varnish makers and oil merchants at Coppice Row, Clerkenwell. Did they find the use of coal tar for varnishes and oils unfruitful and leave the partnership and Mr. Turner in Orchard Place?

Turner had had plans to manufacture 'various articles' from coal tar and had already been using it for ten years when he bought the Orchard Place works and he continued to buy tar from Chartered. Twenty years later, still there, he was in an 'advantageous position' as the 'only varnish maker' in that area. His Roman cement business has been mentioned above. The site was still a tar works in the 1880s and this continued use must indicate some measure of success.
Cassell had taken over the City Gas Company works in the 1820s and stayed in business there, in one form or another, until the early 1860s. Nearly thirty-five years of production from gas industry tar can hardly be called a failure.


These tar distillers were part of a movement in which the material was gradually exploited to make new materials. Several of these uses have been discussed above. The continued existence of these works raises the question as to whether the gas company tar works really failed. Failed tar works were bought by others who made them profitable and were able to help in the exploitation of coal tar by a wide range of industries.