Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company

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1883 to 1971

Located in



“The Trinidad Asphalt Company was formed in the year 1883 to acquire the interest of several leases holding licenses to work portions of the justly-celebrated Pitch Lake in the Island of Trinidad (British Colony), who obtained from the British Crown the exclusive right to remove and export asphalt from the lake. The Company also owns the freehold of upwards of 2600 acres of land bordering on or adjacent to the PItch Lake, containing the greatest quantities of asphalt equally valuable for some purposes, but not as valuable for street paving as the lake asphalt.

The Pitch Lake is situated in the south-west part of the Island of Trinidad, about two-thirds of a mile from the sea coast, and in extent has an area of about 114 acres, containing many millions of tons of asphalt.

The lake has been known for a great number of years, but it is only recently that the export has been on an extensive scale. During the years 1867 to 1877 the shipments of lake asphalt amounted to 93,424 tons, or an average of 8,766 ton per annum, of which 81,622 tons came to Europe and 14,802 tons went to America.

The rock asphalts, as used in London, were introduced into Europe thirty-seven years ago, but in all that period is is believed have only reached a development of some 3,500,000 square yards, while in one year alone (1896) in the United States and Canada upwards of 2,200,000 square yards of Trinidad Lake Asphalt were laid. The difference is due to the slipperiness of rock asphalt, a defect from which Trinidad asphalt is free. Rock asphalt was laid in Washington in 1876, but after two years trial the Commissioners considered it “as being too slippery for practical use.” No more of it has been laid, and the piece laid in 1876 was taken up and replaced with Trinidad Lake Asphalt, with which upwards to 102 miles of roadway in that city are now laid.

That the licenses were justified in the conclusions which led them to make the combination is shown by the fact that in the nine years following, the Trinidad Asphalt Company shipped 702,500 tons, or an average of 78,000 tons per annum, as compared with the 96,424 tons for the whole eleven years before the formation of the Company, and that while the concessionaires had contracted to pay the Trinidad Government a minimum royalty of £10,000 per annum for their exclusive concession, the actual payments have averaged £26,000 per annum. This large increase has been mainly brought about by the strong hold this particular form of street paving has obtained in the leading cities in the United States, on account of its cleanly and sanitary advantages, its durability, and by reason of the Trinidad Lake Asphalt Paving as now laid offering a far better foothold for horses than other Asphalts of wood or granite pavements.”

Net profits:

1889 …… £27,650

1890 ….... £33,200

1891 …… £34,000

1892 …… £45,381

1894 …… £52, 937

1895 …… £58,646

1896 …… £53,973

Total Shipments (in tons)

1893 …… 88,051

1894 …… 94,946

1895 …… 81,080

1896 …… 82,946

"The New Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company, Limited." Times [London, England] 17 Dec. 1897: 5. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

The Trinidad Lake Asphalt combined with the Limmer Asphalte Paving Company in 1916 to form the Limmer and Trinidad Lake Asphalt Company, which was absorbed by Tarmac in 1971.

"Limmer Asphalte Paving Company (Limited)." Times [London, England] 18 July 1916: 13. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

"Road makers prepare for the day the chips are down." Times [London, England] 4 Oct. 1971: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.