In 1965, Educational Films of Scotland made fascinating film narrated by Scottish actor Moultrie Kelsall about the history of Grangemouth from 1750 to modern times (1965). Among the highlights of the film is the focus on the role of Grangemouth Town Council as a local, democratic enabler of economic development. In Kelsall’s words,

I think that Grangemouth has been very well served by a succession of hard-working, and enterprising, forward looking Town Councils.”

Take the time to watch the film. Click on the image below or here.

Today, Grangemouth is in the news in relation to the future of the petrochemical plant and oil refinery. The plant operator, Ineos owns the petrochemical plant and is a co-owner of the oil refinery with PetroChina Company Limited.

To facilitate this investment with Petrochina, the Registers of Scotland, agreed to admit a voluntary registration of the  land in the land register. As reported in the Law Society of Scotland’s journal, the Keeper of the Registers was keen to highlight how registration can enhance the confidence of an investor by providing a state-guaranteed title.

Grangemouth Oil Refinery

Deborah Lovell, a partner in Anderson Strathern LLP’s Commercial Real Estate team, commented on their voluntary registration of Grangemouth Refinery.

“The voluntary registration process was used recently on behalf of our client, INEOS, for their landholding comprising their oil refinery and petrochemicals facility at Grangemouth and terminal at Finnart, all held on the historic General Register of Sasines. The registration of the land was key to a number of strategic deals involving transfers of the landholding, the reorganisation of the client’s funding arrangements, and the involvement of a new foreign investor. The benefit of the voluntary registration for our clients included speed and certainty for all parties, which was of major assistance in enabling the parties to achieve their goals.”

The Ineos site is registered under two titles (for links see below).

The petrochemical plant is registered in STG29375 and is owned by Ineos Chemicals Grangemouth Ltd. which is a company 100% owned by Ineos Europe Holdings Ltd. which is a company 100% owned by Ineos Jersey Ltd.

The oil refinery is registered in STG64980 and is owned by Ineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd. which is a company 100% owned by Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd. which is a company 100% owned by Ineos Refining Li Ltd., a joint venture company between PetroChina Company Ltd. and Ineos Investments (Jersey) Ltd. This join venture company is not registered in the UK but probably in China and the “Li” in the name is probably a reference to Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang who, with Nick Clegg, witnessed the deal in 2011.

Curiously, the salmon fishing rights in the River Carron and 1486 hectares of the Firth of Forth are owned by BP Exploration Operating Company Limited under title STG27415.

Grangemouth Town Council was abolished at midnight on 15 May 1975 by the Local Government (Scotland Act) 1973 which received Royal Assent 40 years ago on 25 October 1973.

I hope someone returns to Grangemouth and makes a follow-up film to Moutrie Kelsall’s 1965 account. From indigenous local endeavours by Scottish businesses and municipal enterprise, we are now in a world of local government which is not local and does not govern and a world of global footloose private equity firms based in tax havens.

This is all about power.


STG29375 (1.5Mb pdf)
STG29375 (plan) (2.9Mb pdf)
STG64980 (plan) (3Mb pdf)
STG27415 (plan) (6.9Mb plan)



  1. Being cynical; is this the Tory bombshell to scupper our hopes of independence? I have heard that being said in more than one quarter!

    • I am one of those in other quarters and I advise that no-one should underestimate the perfidy of Perfidious Albion. Expect more and worse.

    • If anything I think this helps make the case for Independence. If Scotland could become a fairer country which puts the interests of people first instead of the interests of money maybe our national assets wouldn’t be at the mercy of ruthless Gordon Gekko types.

      A new law of corporate neglect might be a start. Anyone who fails to manage important chunks of privately-owned economic infrastructure in a responsible way should be liable to massive fines or confiscation of assets. If a business is genuinely failing there have to be changes but Mr Ratcliffe at the very least ought to be required to formally demonstrate this before forcing reduced pay and conditions on workers or deciding to close a plant. Today I feel like I’m in some kind of third world country where there is no developed civic power to protect national assets or the interests of the people against the depredations of aggressive commercial interests.

      People like Mr Ratcliffe want all the money and power but none of the responsibility. In the end, we’ve only got ourselves to blame for giving it to him.

      • I think this is exactly the case. It is a country being held to ransom by a single person who has forced home the point that he has control over the livelihoods of thousands of Scots, not just the ones in the plant but across the country.. those dependent on the refinery. That a country can be so organised is madness. A billionaire holding a nation to ransom. It is disgraceful and I am sick at heart that these workers and Unite had to go back and eat dirt. This is not a victory. What is so appalling is that these people had no power. They thought they had but it has been eroded and now they live and work in the knowledge that they are enslaved. Ratcliffe knew exactly what he was doing all along the line. Billions of pounds. No heart. No soul.

    • I don’t think you are being cynical, most right thinking Scots will be thinking along the same lines. A parcel of rogue’s indeed.

  2. hebrideanfarmer

    What a wonderful film. The good old days when the decision makers and enablers were local. The film shows exactly how individual businesses works to benefit the community. All with their own governance.
    At the end of the film the commentator asks the question…”Who is responsible for the economic success and vibrancy of Grangemouth ? ” I think the answer is the synergy of local individual power.
    A lesson for us all.

  3. Joyce M. said much the same thing as Noël.

    Like you (and Joyce) I feel a real anger at the unfettered power of commercial piracy by the likes of Ratcliffe.

  4. Great little film, simple, direct and to the point yet still engaging. One of the problems now with the concept of local democracy is that large numbers of folk have no experience or knowledge of the days of smaller councils. We really need to get back to a more localised form of governance to get people back to an interest in politics and engaging on their own and their communities behalf.
    On the larger scale of things it is just crazy to have important strategic resources owned by overseas organisations, which looks like in this case to come down to the whim of one individual.

  5. Victor Clements

    Dearie me. This suggestion that Westminster orchestrated the Grangemouth crisis to undermine independence is something that many people will find deeply offensive. Amazing the parallel universe that some people inhabit that they can believe this.

    The crisis seems to be resolved, with ScotGov and UK Gov working together to acheive that.

    If people want to nationalize all these things, for the sake of argument, could they put a price on them first please, that we would have to buy them for? And who then will pay? These things only ever work if it is some-one else paying for them, not you. Maggie was right about that much.

    • No one has suggested that Westminster orchestrated it; it’s the organ grinder calls the tune not the monkeys!

  6. Study this interview with Jim Ratcliffe where about 3’11” he talks about acquiring the Grangemouth petrochemical works from BP.

    He tells how it was ‘transformational’ but ‘smothered in fixed costs’ (i.e. generous pension schemes) which he intended to ‘run down. So you knew there was an immediate win there’.

  7. Ahhhh, Moultrie.. Blairlogie’s finest