Ordnance Wharf Tar & Pitch Works

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Located in



Naptha, Creosote, Anthracene, Pitch

Used Raw Materials

Coal Tar

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The site was previously owned by Blakely Ordnance Co up to 1867. At some point it was taken over by Sadler, Forbes, Abbott, and Co. The company split up in 1885. At some point the company Forbes, Abbott, and Lennard moved south to Sussex Wharf to continue their work.

“Woodlands Local History Library has recently acquired pictures of the Lennard Tar Still donated by Mrs. Gale, whose late husband had studied the still and collected the pictures. The still was sited on the Ordnance Wharf tar works - now partly under the Millennium Dome. During the 1870s the site had been used by a chemical company known as Forbes Abbott and Lennard. Forbes Abbott had previously operated from Iceland Wharf at Old Ford in Hackney Wick and were primarily ammonia specialists. In the 1880s the site was compulsorily purchased by the South Metropolitan Gas Company as part of the larger gas works site - and they seem to have also taken over Mr. Lennard and his tar stills.”

“FORBES ABBOTT & LEONARD In the 1867 James Forbes, based at Iceland Wharf, at Old Ford on the Lea in Hackney, patented various means of making sulphate of ammonia and sulphuric acid where he has been based from at least the mid 1840s apparently in partnership with a Mr. Abbott and Mr. Leonard. They contracted with London gas companies to buy chemical waste. They moved to East Greenwich to a site near Blackwall Point where they made a variety of chemical products. When South Metropolitan Gas Company purchased Ordnance Wharf they moved south to a site adjacent to Victoria Deep Water Wharf which they called Sussex Wharf – this may relate to their works at Shoreham and Rye in Sussex. In Greenwich they made anthracene, hydrochloric acid.”

“Although the South Metropolitan Gas Company have acquired 130 acres of land the whole of it will not be appropriated to the gasworks In fact, some portion of it is already occupied by the Chemical Works of Messrs Sadler, Forbes, Abbott, and Co., at which establishment the Members of the Society were received by Messrs Forbes and Abbott, and by them and by Mr. Field were conducted over the works. Here the tar produced by the South Metropolitan Company at their various works is brought alongside by barges and is pumped up into steam-heated tanks which separate the water from it. From thence it is pumped into heating tanks on its way to the stills, the tanks being heated by the outflowing pitch from the retorts, which passes through the pipes Thus a double effect is produced and two desirable points gained, the incoming tar being heated and the outgoing pitch cooled. The stills are Lennard's patent, and are capable of holding 8000 gallons each; they are 33 feet long by 6 feet diameter, and are made of wrought iron. In the ordinary stills the tar becomes baked on the bottom of the still over the fire, but in the Lennard's still a revolving agitator is used, and this keeps the charge in motion and prevents the formation of coke, thus effecting a saving both in fuel and in wear and tear. The first product of the still is naphtha, which is given over at a temperature of 100 Fahr. The products of distillation as they come over are run into underground tanks, with which the works are pretty well paved, and which consist mostly of old steam boilers. From these underground tanks the products are blown off by air-pressure to any required part of the works. The naphtha is washed in lead-lined vessels with sulphuric acid, and is afterwards pumped into a still, the vapours passing off from thence forming benzole. The second product given off from the tar in the still is creosote, which comes over at 200 Fahr. This product is used for preserving timber and for other purposes. A portion, however, is converted into carbolic acid by being washed with a solution of caustic alkali. The carbolate is then run into a tank and neutralised with sulphuric acid, the resultant being carbolic acid, which is produced at the top of the contents of the tank.The third product of the still is anthracine, which comes over at 300 Fahr and is cooled in open tanks, being afterwards strained through filter presses. The oil passes out of the presses, leaving a solid residue, which is afterwards passed through hydraulic presses and subsequently used for the manufacture of alizarine, for which purpose it is packed in barrels and sent to Messrs Sadler's works at Middlesbrough. The final result of the distillation is pitch, which is conveyed away to the pitch beds and is used for making asphalte and for other purposes, large quantities being sent to France.” Society of Engineers, Transactions for 1884.,%20abbott,&%20lennard&f=false

“THE shareholders of Messrs. Sadler, Forbes, Abbott & Co were called together on the 5th inst, to give their consent to the severance of the connection between Sadler & Co Limited and Forbes & Abbott, the experience of the amalgamation not having proved to be of such advantage to the interests of the company as anticipated. The meeting was largely attended, and the arrangement was unanimously sanctioned. Sadler & Co. Limited retain the properties originally possessed by them, including the extensive Alizarin and Aniline Works at Middlesbrough “ 1885,%20Forbes,%20Abbott,%20and%20Co.&f=false,%20abbott,&%20lennard&f=false,%20abbott,&%20lennard&f=false