CARLESS, CAPEL & LEONARD origins go back to 1859 when Eugene Carless formed an oil refining and distilling business situated at Hope Works, Hackney Wick, London. He later entered into a partnership with George Capel but this was dissolved in 1872 after just 2 years. During this period the company had started selling a new product called "Petrol" - a solvent based product distilled from Petroleum. The trade name "Petrol" was to remain in common use by the company and the product itself was found to be most suitable for use as a fuel for the later internal combustion engine.
Having dissolved the partnership with
Advert showing a distilling plant and cracking unit built and supplied by Wilton's of London. Carless would probably have had a similar plant at Hackney Wick
Eugene Carless, George Capel then formed a new partnership with John Leonard which traded as Carless, Capel & Leonard. Eugene Carless had no interest in the business other than as an employee with the position of Works Manager. The new partnership would not last long though for by 1874 George Capel had sold out his entire interests to John Leonard.
Carless, the foreshortened company name, had become one of the leading distilleries in Britain for imported American crude oil. The company also produced a range of products such as lamp oils, carburine, and benzoline all of which had been derived from coal tar and shales.
With the advent of the motor car and the fuel in which to drive it the company had to defend its product "Petrol" on several occasions
Sign circa 1910
as other companies tried to label their product "Petrol" as well. The company had been unable to officially register the name of "Petrol as a trade name as it was considered a descriptive term but through many years of common usage they were able to defend their right to it as a product name.
With "Petrol" off the agenda other companies marketed their products as "Motor Spirit"
The company had become a major concern both in its refining, and distribution operations with a network of over 1,000 agents. It also had important business relationships with companies such as Daimler. The company's range of motor fuels included; Carless, Carless Movril, Carless Carbus, Carless Lighthouse Aviation Spirit, and Carless
Early visible petrol pump with Carless No 1 Motor Spirit globe
Coalene Mixture - a 1930's brand made from coal. In a twist to their protection of the name "Petrol" the company also had a brand called 'Carless No1' Motor Spirit. See the advertisements opposite for some of the company's brands.
After the 2nd World War the company changed its name to Carless Refining and Marketing Ltd where it continued in business as a refining and distilling company. In 2000 it merged with Petrochem, a major European Distributor of Chemical Solvents, and is now called Petrolchem Carless Ltd.