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THE DISTILLATION OF OIL FROM CANNEL COAL AND SHALES A VERY interesting exhibit was to be seen at the Buckley Industrial Archaeology Class, held under the auspices of the W.E.A., under the tutorship of Mr. Bevan- Evans. The exhibit was a large piece of cannel coal, originating from the former Padeswood Collieries, near Buckley. Cannel coal was extensively used by gasworks for the pro- duction of coal gas, and during the oil boom period from about the 1860s to 1880s large quantities of curly and smooth cannel coals and oil shale were used for the dis- tillation of crude oil, paraffin, greases, etc., from this cannel coal and shale. During this "oil boom" period, which literally collapsed on the finding of oil sources abroad, extensive trials were made locally in the search for cannel coal, in particular the curly variety which was held to be the most valuable, producing on distillation some 80 gallons of crude oil per ton, and priced in the Leeswood area at 28/- per ton, compared with smooth cannel producing about 35 gallons per ton, and priced at 9/- per ton, and oil shale giving about 33 gallons per ton, and priced at 8/6 per ton.1 It is recorded that over 1,000 retorts were erected or in course of erection in the districts of Leeswood, Coed Talon, and Copa Colleries, Padeswood, for the manu- facture of oil from cannel coal, during this period, and on the earlier maps dating from 1870 many works of this nature are to be seen, the Copa Oil Works, the Hope Oil Works, North Wales Oil Works, Leeswood Vale Oil Works, Canneline Oil Works, Mold Valley Oil Works (Marstons) etc. some 20-24 works sites have been located. In 1862, 28,816 tons, and in 1864, 120,000 tons of cannel coal were raised in Flint- shire by the following collieries Leeswood Hill, Leeswood Green, Coed Talwrn, Copa and Nerquis and in 1865, 150,000 tons were raised.2 Thin bands of cannel coal, sometimes 6" thick near the centre of the Main coal had been known for many years, and were first worked in 1858. Leeswood Green Colliery boring below the main coal passed through several seams of workable coals, and at a depth of 93 yards from the main the cannel coal was reached, and eventually proved to be 4' thick. Trials proved many other cannel seams in the neighbourhood, Coed Talon 4' at a depth of 241 yards from the surface Leeswood 5' at 163 yards Nerquis 2' 9" at 193 yards Oak Pits, Mold, 2' 9" seams of coal and cannel at 185 yards Bromfield 4' 5" mixture coal and cannel at 214 yards Copa Collieries near Pades- wood, cannel 4' 6" and shale 1' 6" at 252 yards Sandycroft Colliery, Buckley, mixture coal and cannel 2' 4" thick at 133 yards and at Aston Hall Colliery where a 7' main coal seam comes in at 22 yards from the surface, there was a 1' seam of cannel around the 60 yard mark, and a mixture of coal and cannel 2' 2" thick at 67 yards from the surface. The characteristics of the different varieties of cannel coals are that the smooth cannel breaks with large conchoidal fracture, and curly cannel with a small conchoidal fracture, and shale with a semi-earthy fracture. Curly cannel and shale are both harder than smooth cannel, and both give a brown streak when scratched, whilst "smooth cannel" gives a black streak. The approximate composition of these, exclusive of sulphur, phosphorus and water, are 1* The Coal Fields of Denbighshire and Flintshire \Proc. Liverpool Qeel. Soc., Sees. 7 (1866), p. 46. IR. Meade, The Coal and Iron Industries of the United Kingdom (1882), p. 181. 3Ibid. J. B. Gregory and Jesse Price, The North Wales Coalfield (1879).