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William Briggs


1839 - 1919

Tar and asphalt manufacturer. Born at East Retford (England), the son of the owner of a stage-coach, Briggs began his career with a telegraph company, working first in Chesterfield, then moving to Edinburgh in 1858. He moved to Greenock to work in a chemical works, then joined the British Asphalte Company in Port Dundas (Glasgow), rising to become assistant manager, while also attending chemistry classes at Anderson's Institution before setting up on his own account in Arbroath as a distiller of coal tar. Initially the tar and bitumen produced was used in shipbuilding and ship-repair, but soon became useful in construction. In 1890, he moved to Dundee, with subsidiary operations at Kirkcaldy and Ladybank in Fife. He retired to Pitlochry, where he built Torrdarach House as his home. He died there but was buried in the Western Cemetery in Arbroath. His company expanded under the direction of his sons. A division of his company, that produced asphalt for roofing, continues as BriggsAmasco, now based in Birmingham. Camperdown Refinery continued in Dundee following a takeover in 1968 and finally closed in 2014, although the site continues as a bitumen supply depot.


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