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Scottish mines

Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


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

Barbush ironstone, coal & shale pits

Location Parish of Abbey, Renfrewshire, various sites.
Shale-field Renfrewshire shalefield
Dates opened and closed Minerals worked between early 1850's and c.1880; shale worked during 1860's and 70's
Owner William Dixon, Iron master
Type of working Pits
Seams worked Ironstone, coal and coal-shale
Oil works served not known
Current status of site Area mostly built over, few surviving traces of surface features


W.S. Dixon, proprietors of the Govan Ironworks, began working ironstone in the Barbush estate, north of Johnstone, during the early-1850's. No information has been found on the precise location of the Barbush pits, or the boundaries of the Barbush mineral field. The first edition OS map, surveyed c.1858, show a number of ironstone pits in the vicinity of Barbush. Those pits in operation at that time were named on the map after adjacent farms. None were identified as "Barbush".

Airey's railway map of Scotland (1875) diagrammatically showed a siding serving Barbush No.4 pit from the Glasgow & South Western Railway Bridge of Weir branch, immediately east of Houstoun station. A "Barbush siding" extending for 19 chains, - presumably that serving Barbush No.4 pit, - was included in plans for the construction of the railway in c.1862, and abandoned c.1889. The disused course of the branch is shown on the second edition OS map surveyed c.1894; Barbush No.4 pit presumably lay at the end of this branch at about .

Airey's railway map also shows a siding to Barbush No. 5 pit, lying midway between Bridge of Weir and Houstoun stations. Neither edition of OS map provide any indication of a pit or sidings in this area, although this might relate to the Barbush Sandholes pit, subject of an 1874 abandonment plan. Sandholes farm is at (55.845816, -4.538624).

Catalogues of mine abandonment plans include a number related to Barbush:

Mineral statistics make the following references to Barbush

Evidence therefore suggests that mineral working at Barbush continued until about 1880. Mineral rights passed to the Clippens Oil Company Ltd. in 1882, however there is no evidence that these were exercised. There are several references to working shale along with coal and ironstone, but it is not known which oil works this was supplied to.

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 (55.841869, -4.508412) Marked as "old ironstone pit" on the first edition (c.1858) OS map - perhaps the first Barbush pit? Site subsequently covered by the construction of the Johnstone branch railway.
  2. show in map (55.841869, -4.508412) Not marked on first edition OS map; probably Barbush No.4 pit
  3. show in map (55.844096, -4.509680) Marked as "old ironstone pit" on the first edition (c.1858) OS map - perhaps Muirhead pit?
  4. show in map (55.844260, -4.514549) Marked as "Tree pit "on the first edition (c.1858) OS map. Perhaps Barbush No.6 pit?
  5. show in map (55.841269, - 4.520795) Marked as "Newfield pit "on the first edition (c.1858) OS map.
  6. show in map (55.840479, -4.503344) Marked as "Cartside pit "on the first edition (c.1858) OS map (perhaps outside Barbush lease?)
  7. Location of Sandholes farm; presumable in the proximity of Sandholes pit.
  8. Fulton pits (outside Barbush lease)
  9. Clippens pit (outside Barbush lease)
  10. Darluth Coal and limestone pits (outside Barbush lease)

Site Maps

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


Lad Killed —On Sabbath last, an apprentice moulder, named David Allison, about fifteen years of age, son of James Allison, blacksmith, Johnstone, lost his life in the following manner:—A pit, it appears, is at present being sunk on the farm of Mr. James Stewart, Laigh Cartside, Johnstone, and the lad Allison along with some companions were amusing themselves by turning round a windlass at the mouth of the pit, when, from some cause or other, one of the lads let go his hold and the handle of the windlass, coming round suddenly, struck Allison a severe blow on the head, and he was thrown down the pit, depth of about eighteen feet. Upwards of an hour elapsed before he was got out when life was found to be extinct, and as the bottom of the pit was covered to the depth of about two feet with water, it is probable he was first stunned by the blow and fall, and then drowned.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 13th March 1855

Fatal Accident.-On Friday last a melancholy and fatal accident occurred at Barbush Ironstone Pit, near Johnstone. At about four o'clock pm on that day a party of four miners were being drawn up the pit, and had ascended half-way, when one of their number, a young man, named Owen Monaghan; aged 20 years, got hooked in by the signal apparatus, and was thereby suddenly jerked off the "creel" and falling to the bottom was killed on the spot. Deceased was unmarried, but considerable sympathy is expressed for his bereaved parents and relatives.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 11th July 1856.

PAISLEY. A MAN SUFFOCATED AT AN IRONSTONE PIT.- At about eight o'clock yesterday morning, a man named John Daffy, a labourer, with no fixed place of residence, was found dead at the Cartside Ironstone Pit, near to Johnstone. The body was found upon a heap of rubbish put out from the pit, and the head was close to a pile of ironstone which was being calcined. It is supposed that the deceased had lain down on the rubbish to sleep, and that he had been choked by the poisonous gases coming from the heap of burning ironstone. So close had he lain, to the burning heap that his right cheek was found to be scorched. The body was brought in to the Paisley Infirmary yesterday. Duffy has no friends or relatives known in the district, being quite a stranger.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 16th October 1860.

BRIDGE OF WEIR RAILWAY BILL. By this Bill it is proposed to incorporate "The Bridge of Weir Railway Company,'' for making a railway, length 3 miles 69 chains, from a junction with the Glasgow and South-Western Railway, at its Johnstone Station, near Paisley, to the village of Bridge of Weir, with two branches, lengths 19 chains and 18 chains respectively, to the lands of Barbush and Clippens, in the parish of Kilbarchan, in the county of Renfrew, to be completed within four years.
The Caledonian Mercury, 1st March 1862.

The Treasurer of the Paisley Infirmary request us to acknowledge receipt of £6 9s, per Mr. Andrew Bennie, manager to Wm. Dixon Esq.. contributed by the workers at Elderslie and Barbush Collieries in aid of the institution.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 21st July 1866.

CONTRACTORS Wanted to Offer for the Working of the Ironstone at No. 6 Pit, Barbush. Johnstone. Further particulars may be learned by applying to Mr. James Hunter, at the pit.
The Glasgow Herald 24th February 1877

... the abandonment of the Barbush branch, which was not used at present, and the sale of the site, or to use it as might be advisable. General Meeting of the Glasgow and South Western Railway.
The Glasgow Herald, 20th February 1889

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