Bream Heritage Walk

21 – Oakwood Chemical Works Pond

Here we are approaching the site of the old chemical works and the extensive site of the Flour Mill Colliery, which was by far the largest industrial site in the Bream area.

The chemical works – which produced chemicals and charcoal by heating up wood in the absence of air – was built on the site just ahead around 1850 by George Skipp who manufactured various products including wood-pitch and wood-tar. The Deputy Surveyor who lived downstream of the works at Whitemead was not keen on the works fearing pollution of the stream which fed his fishpond. However the works were built and the stream was diverted around the fishpond.

George Skipp sold the works in 1854 to Isaiah Trotter who ran it to about 1887. Other owners then took over until it closed in 1900. It had a large pond in front of it, called the Stewery Pool, hence this flat area.

The buildings that still exist today have a long history. The ones nearest us are probably on the site of the original chemical works. Some were later used as an oil reclamation and specialist lubricants plant which changed ownership several times. At various times it was known as Alanzol, Ragosine and Forest Lubricants which was formed in 1984.
The last occupiers of the site, Penrite Oils, were a speciality motor oil blending company that were based in Australia. They employed 7 staff here but closed the operation in late 2016.

A phot showig Buildings at the Flourmill in 2017
Buildings at the Flourmill in 2017. The site of the Oakwood Chemical Works. The flat boggy area to the left is the site of the Stewery Pond.