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Coal shale pits


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Home > Companies & Works > Shale Mines > Addiewell No.2 pit

Addiewell No.2 pit

Location 55.847192, -3.594736, show in map
Shale-field West Calder shale-field
Dates opened and closed Opened c.1864? perhaps in use until the 1890's ?
Owner James Young, then Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd
Type of working Vertical shaft, 52 fathoms to coal, 82.5 fathoms to shale.
Seams worked Fells Shale, Houston Coal, perhaps the Grey Shale
Oil works served Addiewell Chemical Works
Current status of site Grassland associated with waste recycling site. No surviving trace of pithead structures


Addiewell No. 2 exploited the Fells Shale, and its workings were linked underground with those of No. 1 Pit, and probably also Addiewell No. 5 and Addiewell No. 6. Working seems to have continued until 1893. No. 2 also accessed the Houston Coal, and perhaps also small reserve of Grey Shale (or perhaps Hurlet Coal?), which was worked until 1891. OS maps suggest that the pithead structure remained intact when surveyed c.1893 and that the shaft and some other surface features still existed in c.1905.

See "Early mines and pits in the Addiewell area" for further background.


Ordnance Survey maps reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the National Library of Scotland.

Underground Workings

Recent Images


No.2 pit... is wet only in and around the bottom of the shaft. There is no dripping from the roof in the ways, nor were the rails muddy below so as to render the traffic heavy or uncomfortable. Glasgow Herald, 1st November 1870

SERIOUS ASSAULT IN A SHALE PIT. - At the Sheriff Summary Court, Edinburgh, on Saturday, before Sheriff Hallard, Donald McKay and Alexander McKenna were charged with assaulting John Demsie, signalman in No. 2 shale pit, Addiewell. From the evidence it appeared that Demsie was responsible for the working of the cages sent up from the pit bottom. The prisoners who are "drawers", and bound to obey Demsie, came to the pit bottom with some hutches filled with shale, and, after having been forbidden to do so, shoved the hutches on to the cage, notwithstanding that Demsie had signalled to the engineer at the top that the cage was coming up with men. Demsie, after a struggle, got the hutches out of the cage, when the prisoners attacked him with great ferocity, knocking him down and unmercifully beating him. The Sheriff said this was not an ordinary case of assault; it was also a breach of discipline, where human life was endangered by the conduct of the accused; and as it was essential that an example should be made to prevent the recurrence of a similar offence, he sentenced each of the prisoners to thirty days' imprisonment. The Falkirk Herald, 27th June 1872

A very good example of Main and Tail Rope System was at work in No.2 Pit, Addiewell, in 1872. The level road from the bottom of the shaft had been driven for over a thousand yards and was very nearly both straight and level - a most unusual combination in the oil-shale area. The haulage engine was steam driven, the steam being generated in a Cornish boiler housed in a brick-lined chamber, adjacent to the haulage-room. The fumes of the boiler were carried 100 yds. in a brick flue to one of the upcast shafts. The haulage had a speed of from 15 to 20 m.p.h., the number of hutches varying from twenty-five to thirty in each trip. The danger of fire from the presence of a boiler underground was a standing menace, and after fifteen years, fire eventually broke out, resulting in the abandonment of the pit. Sneddon, Caldwell and Stein, Seventy Five Years of Oil Shale Mining, Institute of Petroleum, 1938.

Accident Records


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