Turnbull & Co.
Turnbull & Co., Camlachie Chemical Works, 16, Great Eastern Road.—
The extensive business carried on by Messrs. Turnbull & Co., chemical manufacturers, of the Camlachie Chemical Works, 16, Great Eastern Road, Glasgow, presents many features of more than ordinary interest, and affords a striking instance of the enormous expansion of this industry and the many important and valuable discoveries that have been made in this branch of science.
The business is of very old standing, Messrs. Turnbull & Co. being the oldest established house engaged in the pyroligneous trade in Scotland. Their first work was erected in the Vale of Leven in the end of last century, and they have since established numerous other works in different parts of the country, wherever large supplies of oak wood were to be had, the principal one being started at Camlachie, in the eastern district of Glasgow, in 1806. The Camlachie Works cover a considerable area of ground, and comprise extensive buildings in which the various processes are conducted.
The first process is the destructive distillation of the wood, yielding pyroligneous acid, wood spirit, and charcoal. From the pyroligneous acid, by a variety of purifying processes, pure acetic acid is made. The wood spirit when brought up to 60 o.p. goes for methylating, and the charcoal, if from oak wood, is ground for iron-founders’ use, and if from soft wood, for gunpowder purposes. Acetic acid in combination with the different bases forms the acetates of lead, copper, lime, soda, alumina or red liquor, and iron liquor. The process was first brought from France by Sir Robert Peel the elder, and the products employed in the calico printing business, in which he was engaged.
The grandfather of the present proprietor of the Camlachie Chemical Works introduced the process into Scotland, and the manufacture was further improved by Mr. Ramsay, a partner in the firm, who was one of the first chemists of his day, and was the father of the present Sir Andrew Ramsay, lately the President of the British Association. The extent of Messrs. Turnbull & Co.’s operations may be estimated from the fact that they have at present seven other manufactories situated in different parts of Scotland. Messrs. Turnbull & Co. have an old-established connection with the leading firms in the principal centres of industry, which is well founded upon the eminent reputation the firm has so long enjoyed, and the extent and importance of its transactions fully justify its position as one of the largest and most influential houses in the trade.
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