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Scottish mines

Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


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Home > Companies & Works > Shale Mines > Renfrewshire Coal Oil > Abercorn Pits

Abercorn ironstone, coal & shale pits

Locations Parish of Abbey, Renfrewshire - various sites
Shale-field Renfrewshire shalefield
Dates opened and closed Minerals worked between 1850's and 1890's; shale worked during 1880's
Owner Merry & Cunninghame, Walkinshaw Oil Co. Ltd.
Type of working Pits
Seams worked Lillie's coal-shale, ironstone, coal
Oil works served Inkerman oil works
Current status of site Agricultural and derelict lands


It appears that Messrs. Merry & Cunninghame began working ironstone in the Abercorn estate, and the adjoining Douglas estate early in the 1850's. The first edition OS map (c.1858) shows Linelive ironstone pit (later Abercorn No.1 pit) and Candren ironstone pit (later Douglas No.1) linked by the "Linwood Branch Railway" to a junction with the Glasgow & South Western Railway near Ferguslie. The substantial disturbance of ground around each pit suggests that the ironstone was calcinated in open heaps near the pithead. In this process the ironstone was burned with waste coal (and probably shale) to enrich the ore, which was then transported by rail to the company's ironworks in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.

At later date (during the 1860's?), further pits were opened at Abercorn No.2, No.3 and No.4. The Linwood Branch Railway is shown on the Airey's railway map of 1875. Mineral statistics for 1879 list Merry & Cunninghame as working ironstone at Abercorn

In 1883, the Walkinshaw Oil Company sub-let the Abercorn and Douglas mineral fields from Merry & Cunninghame. It was explained at their 1883 AGM that this arrangement would give the oil company control of worker's housing at Inkerman and that, although there was little profit in ironstone production, Merry and Cunninghame had agreed to purchase all ironstone output as long as they were operating their Carnbroe Ironworks. Mineral statistics for 1885 list the Walkinshaw Oil Company as working Abercorn for shale and ironstone, under manager, Robert Gibb. The lease arrangement with Merry and Cunninghame led to a lengthy court case, and the abandoned of the interconnected workings of Abercorn No. 2, 3, & 5, and Douglas No. 1 & 3 pits in 1885 (Abandonment plan OM 1726)

In 1888, Merry & Cunninghame resumed working of the mineral fields for ironstone, and are listed as working coal there in 1894

The Linwood Branch Railway was partly dismantled prior to the second edition OS map (c.1895), replaced by the Walkinshaw Oil Co.'s private line of railway running to a connection with the Caledonian Railway close to Inkerman oil works.

Location Maps

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

Key to markers on the location maps.

  1. show in map (55.848648, -4.482652) Abercorn No.1, marked as "Linelive pit" on first edition OS map (c.1858), abandoned by second edition (c.1896).
  2. show in map (55.848073, -4.467416) Abercorn No.2, shown intact on the 1896 OS map..
  3. show in map (55.844174, -4.471329) Abercorn No.3, shown intact on the 1896 OS map.
  4. No Abercorn No.4 pit is known.
  5. show in map (55.846727, -4.479310) Abercorn No.5, Unlabeled on the 1896 OS map with buildings intact, but rail access removed.

Site Maps

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

Recent Images

abercorn No.1 pit


Pit Accident.—On Wednesday morning, a miner, named James Gillespie, resident at No. 20 West Street, Parley, had the misfortune meet with a very severe accident in the Linelive ironstone pit, near Linwood, where he was employed, a great quantity of stones from the roof of a drift having fallen on him while he was at work. After being extricated, he was removed to his own house by a cart, but we understand he is not expected to recover, being very severely bruised and otherwise injured.
The Paisley & Renfrewshire Advertiser, 20th November 1858

CLIPPENS SHALE OIL COMPANY. - The Clippens shale work, which suspended operations recently, have commenced work, the company, it is understood having been able to conclude arrangements for shale and coal from a distance
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 29th May 1875

RE-OPENING OF PITS AT INKERMAN. Four of the pits in the district of Inkerman, which had been closed, and which had been wrought by the Walkinshaw Oil Company, are about to be re-opened by Messrs Merry & Cunninghame, for the extraction of ironstone.
The Scotsman, 26th December 1887

Accident Records


Mine abandonment plans:

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