The story of Scotland's shale oil industry
The Scottish shale oil industry has a remarkable and important history.
Bathgate Chemical Works, established in 1851, was perhaps the first site in the world where mineral oils were processed on an industrial scale. From this blossomed an extensive oil industry that competed successfully against cheaper imported petroleum for many years, and continued in operation until 1962. Such fierce competition bred innovation, progress, and a body of Scots know-how that contributed greatly towards the development of the oil industry throughout the world.
This website is being developed to celebrate, exchange knowledge, and encourage research into this special heritage. We hope that the resource will be of particular value to those researching family histories.
Research resources for family historians
A database of surviving company documents.
Descriptions of working life in the industry.
Inventors, entrepreneurs, and worthies.
Records of sites associated with the shale oil industry
Covering all parts of Scotland.
In Scottish oil-shale districts.
In Scottish oil-shale districts.
Scottish influence throughout the world
Original papers offering an introduction to the industry
Its history, technology and geology.
Information files on each oil company.
Contributions from independent authors.
Catalogue of objects and archives held here and elsewhere.
The Scottish shale oil industry collection.
Company records now held by our museum.
Copy images and documents.
Other museum collections, surveyed 2009.
Research resources available on-line
Archive publications as digital books.
Transcripts of interviews conducted 1983-90.
Extracts from newspapers and magazines.
Learning and sharing
Resources for schools and research noticeboard
Become a Shale Oil Explorer.
Presentations on the shale oil story.
Share your research enquiries and interests.
Almond Valley is a family-friendly museum established in 1990 to preserve and interpret the history and environment of West Lothian. It also continues the work of an oil museum research project which, since 1983, had collected objects and archives associated with the shale industry.
Much of the collection is now displayed in The Scottish Shale Oil Museum; one of a range of educational and leisure facilities at Almond Valley, close to Livingston, West Lothian.
For further information on a great day out at Almond Valley visit our main web site.
We are a member of Industrial Museums Scotland and Oil Museums in Europe.
Latest work to the site
- Much of the digitisation programme is currently focused on minutes books from the BP collection. Work is currently concentrated on the minute books of Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company.
- The re-styling of the site continues; upgrading the content of the company history pages is nearing completion, with several new companies being "discovered" in the process.
- Continued progress in transcribing newspaper accounts - read of the drama and farce of the 1887 AGM of the West Lothian Oil Co. Ltd., in which the police were summoned to eject the former chairman !
Latest digital resources
Scanned and transcribed manuscripts available to download as pdf files
- Minute books of the Oakbank Oil Co. Ltd. - 1869-1886 (213070), 1886-1907 (212894), 1908-1953 (212885), and director's minutes 1916-1919 (212895)
- Minute books of the Dalmeny Oil Co. Ltd. - 1896-1933 (213066), director's minutes 1896-1915 (213069), 1915-1918 (215768), 1919-1933 (213068)
- Minute books of the Broxburn Oil Co. Ltd. - 1895-1909 (213469), 1910-1955 (213472) and director's minutes 1877-1882 (213468)