The beginning

Our history dates back to the early 19th century, when Scotland was undergoing industrialisation and rapid growth.

With west coast Scottish ports providing a gateway to the Americas, many raw materials and finished goods passed though the expanding industrial areas or Glasgow, Paisley and Greenock. 

Against this back drop John Poynter started his business John Poynter & Co in 1825. The business was originally a manufacturing chemist and drysalter, based near the Saltmarket in Glasgow. 

The company manufactured superphosphates, saltpetre, and flowers of sulphur


During the 1820s a local land owner, Sir Michael Shaw, proposed a scheme to bring a new source of drinking water to Greenock.  The project engineer, Robert Thom, expanded the scheme to provide water power as well as drinking water. With the availability of this power source John Poynter relocated to Greenock. This coincided with the start of bone char production in Dellingburn Street.

Greenock was also a prime business location, as at that time abundant sugar supplies from the Caribbean arrived into its ports. There were 14 sugar refineries in Greenock, therefore Poynter’s benefited from being close to its customers.

In addition to bone char, the company made bone buttons, glue, fertiliser, dyestuffs and other chemicals.

John Poynter, Son & MacDonalds

In 1853 John Poynter’s son, John Edgar Pointer joined the business and it became John Poynter & Son.

In 1868, Andrew & John MacDonald join the company in the positions of cashier and managing clerk. The two brothers left in 1887 to start their own business. Four years later his former employer’s firm was united with their own, under the name of John Poynter, Son, & MacDonalds. On the death of John Edgar Pointer in 1893, the business passed to the MacDonald family.

British Charcoal & MacDonalds

In 1930 the company changed its name to British Charcoal and MacDonalds.

Our product, BRIMAC™ Char, derives its name from a contraction of the company’s name BRItish Charcoal & MACDonalds Ltd.

During the next 40 years the company grew and exported BRIMAC™ Char worldwide.

Tate and Lyle Process Technology

As a major supplier to Tate and Lyle, one of the UK’s largest sugar producers, the company was acquired in 1970, and traded as Tate and Lyle Process Technology, still shipping BRIMAC™ Char worldwide.

Brimac Carbon Services & Brimac Char

When Tate & Lyle closed the last sugar refinery in Scotland in the late 1990s, the business returned to independent ownership under the name Brimac Carbon Services, which brings us up to date and the registration of the BRIMAC™ trademark.


BRIMAC™ has always been a premium product and to this end we have continually developed our production process.

In the 1950’s the production process moved from horizontal brick kilns to vertical retorts. This enabled manufacturing to move from batch process to continuous production. It also resulted in greater control of the process, higher yields and a more uniform higher quality product.

There have been continuous improvements in the manufacturing process and product development, including automation of production.

We have an innovative team of engineers and chemists and are constantly striving for technological improvement in our systems processes and products.