Keeping it in the family

I’m grateful to Steve and Margaret Elms from Maidstone in Kent for emailing me with the story of their family that has had an association with BP and its predecessor companies for around 100 years. Green and yellow clearly run through their veins. Here’s what they had to say.

‘The first connection to BP for Margaret started with her grandfather, James Gibb, who worked in the shale industry in the mid 1920s for Scottish Shale/Scottish Oils. In those days Scottish Oils was subsidiary of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Ltd, which then became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Ltd, and is now known simply as BP or should we say ‘bp’?

‘Next was Margaret’s father, John Law Gibb, who started work with Scottish Oils in the early 1930s. He then joined the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in Abadan in 1934, becoming the deputy refining superintendent in 1951. He left Abadan in 1951 (one of the last to leave) and was then transferred to Kent Refinery in 1952. He retired from Kent Refinery in 1967.

‘Margaret and her sister, Agnes, were born in Ababan in the early 1940s and, after going to boarding school in Scotland at the age of 7/8, they went to Kent with their mother in 1952 to join their father and lived in High Halstow – a small village that expanded significantly when the Kent Refinery was constructed.

‘Then fate stepped in around 1955! Margaret met Steve at the High Halstow village hall youth club and they were married in 1962.

Steve and Margaret outside High Halstow church on their 60th wedding anniversary.

‘When Margaret’s sister Agnes left school, she started work at the Kent Refinery before going to Libya with BP in the 1960s.

‘That could have been the end of the link with BP for the Gibb family. But Steve started work at the Kent Refinery (another story!) in the late 1960s, before moving to Das Island/Abu Dhabi in the mid 1970s. He then transferred to Aberdeen in the mid 1980s before returning south to Stockley Park and then Sunbury – finally ‘hot desking’ here, there and everywhere including sitting on too many aeroplanes.

‘During the period Steve was in the Middle East, Margaret and their two daughters continued to be involved with the BP Kent Refinery Club activities, including Margaret being the swimming club section treasurer.’

The BP association has clearly remained with Steve and Margaret all their lives. They told me that when they transferred to Aberdeen, they took Margaret’s parents with them due to their failing health and that one of the doctors who came to see her father noticed a BP book on the bookshelf. It then transpired that the doctor’s father was employed by BP in Kent!

I think this is a wonderful story of two families and BP coming together. Steve and Margaret told me they could have written a book on each paragraph but think they will leave it here and go back to looking through old photos and paperwork, although they donated a lot to the bp archive at the University of Warwick a few years ago.

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