The refinery was built over Coryton village (Kynochtown) and Kynoch’s munitions factory (the site of which still remains just north of the refinery). The explosives factory operated from the late 1890s up until 1919 serving through the First World War. The refinery has its origins in 1953 and possibly prior, although the refinery as we know it was mainly built through the 1970s and 60s when the village was demolished to make room for it. It ceased refining in 2012 and the iconic flare stack which could be seen burning for miles was removed. It was referenced in 1970s band Dr. Feelgood’s songs ‘All Through the City’ (“Stand and watch the towers burning at the break of day”) and ‘Sneaking Suspicion’ (“Midnight on the river in the light of the flames”). The iconic catalytic cracker and chimney still remain, and the Corringham pub ‘the Cat Cracker’ named after it was converted into a Co-Op in late 2013.
Below is catalogued our nighttime visit to the refinery:
Thanks to BTP Joe’s persuasive style, we managed to receive access to take pictures of Coryton Refinery from the Manorway Road. We went in the evening when it was dark, although a foggy night along with the darkness meant most of our pictures came out blurry. Only three of mine were focused enough to make it into this post out of the many we took! What was good about the trip was the sights we saw. The scale, engineering, and complexity of it was an amazing spectacle, although the air was thick with an oily smell and droplets of moisture.
Phil Walpole contacted us and gave the following account.
I am no expert on Coryton and it’s history. But, parts of the old Kynochtown still existed in the 1950’s. in the shape of bungalows. I lived in Coryton during this time, in a fairly new house built I think by the oil company. The road name was Freeman Avenue. The refinery was right next to the houses and many a time it became my playgroung. There used to be a manor house, just a short distance from where I lived and can recall being inside it many times. I think it became a social club for those that worked for Mobile. I have a very hazy memory of the refinery being built and can recall what seem to have been dozens of busses bringing in the workman who built it. Following the flood in 1953 and an explosion a couple years later my family moved to Basildon, which was a new town then. I can remember a pond in a place that is now Basildon town centre. As for Coryton, I think it was all knocked down in the early 70’s . I like the photo’s of the refinery, my dad worked there for over 20 years.