From the Book Sailing ship to Supertanker.
In the early months of 1929 there were signs that all was not well in the financial world. The slight rumblings continued throughout the summer and in September there was concern in London over the failure of some companies. Within a week or so panic swept through the New York Stock Exchange, plunging the world into a period of economic blizzard that was to last through the early years of the 1930s. In Britain three million - one in six of the workforce - were unemployed by 1932. But these years, however economically dark, were of peace.
Two Anglo-American ships were delivered at the end of 1930; the Cheyenne in November and Appalachee in the following month. Both came from Palmers' yard on the Tyne where many tankers had been built over the years.
Standard Oil, the parent company, using its initials phonetically as Esso, produced something new in 1934, using the title to introduce Essolube, the first long-life motor oil, sold to the motorist in sealed glass bottles. At this time Esso globes began appearing at the top of petrol pumps, the old name Pratt's being withdrawn. With thousands of pumps to change, the old name lingered for a while but by April, 1935, it had disappeared.
In the early years of the 1930s, Anglo-American rationalised its distribution system. Over forty sales branches were reor-ganised into sales divisions; depots and terminals were reduced in number; and mechanical aids were introduced into offices.
The controlling interest in Cleveland Petroleum Products Company was acquired by Anglo-American in 1935 and in that year more national prestige came for Britain with Sir Malcolm Campbell's land-speed record of 301 mph. Then, on 27th May, 1936, the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage to New York. A symbol of Britain's economic revival, she immediately gained the Blue Riband of the Atlantic. The middle years were the halcyon days of the 1930s, but colder winds were blowing in central Europe and there was an uneasy diplomatic situation as nations began re-arming. The Second World War was just over three years away.
A new lubricating oil carrier, Comanchee, was accepted into the Anglo-American fleet in 1936. She was capable of sailing up the Manchester Ship Canal.
A notable event in 1938 was the discovery of the company's first domestic oil supply at Dalkeith, just south of Edinburgh, in Scotland. The country's only producing well, it came into production in May, 1938, with a daily output of twenty barrels. It was still producing twenty-five years later and, although its contribution to overall needs was almost negligible, it nevertheless produced a total of several thousand tons.
Four tankers were transferred from the Panama Transport Company in 1939; three were placed in the Anglo-American fleet, the other being put under nominal ownership of the British Mexican Petroleum Company Ltd.
At the outbreak of hostilities in September, 1939, Anglo-American Oil Company, in common with all other oil companies, ceased to exist as an independent concern for all practical purposes. The whole of their resources and experience was placed at the service of the nation, with the government's Petroleum Board directing the entire oil industry in the United Kingdom. In fact, this Board was not wound up until June, 1948, but because of the economic situation the government kept both prices and imports controlled until 1953, and only then were branded names of petrol and products again allowed on sale.