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Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


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

Blackstone ironstone, coal & shale pits

Location Parish of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire. (55.867721, -4.469680), show in map
Shale-field Renfrewshire shale field
Dates opened and closed c. 1872 to post 1898
Owner William Black & Sons, Blackston Mineral Co., William Black & Sons Ltd.
Type of working Pits
Seams worked Lillie's coal shale, coal, ironstone, limestone
Oil works served Blackstone Oil Works
Current status of site Rough ground within farm land


The Blackstone pits and oil works of Wm. Black & Sons were a entirely separate operation from the Blackstoun pits and oil works of Allan Craig & Sons, which lay about a mile to the south west.

Second edition OS maps (1897) show "Blackstone Works (mineral)", presumably the site of Blackstone Oil Works. Although shafts are not clearly marked on the OS map, Geological Survey plan LSP 792 locate the two shafts of "Black's pits" within this complex of buildings. At least one of these two shafts seem likely to be the "new pit" described in the 1872 newspaper account (see snippets below) which reached the shale at 52 or 54 fathoms depth. This pit appears to have been listed in successive editions of Mineral Statistics:

William Black, and his company, William Black & Sons, had considerable coal and ironstone interests in the Airdrie and Slamannan areas, Black also controlled the Stanrigg Oil Company, proprietors of the Stanrigg Oil Works, and formed the Blackstone Mineral Company to manage Renfrewshire operations. All these businesses were consolidated into Wm. Black & Sons Ltd. in 1895, which in turn was amalgamated into United Collieries early in the 20th century. There is no evidence that shale mined at Blackstone was sent to Stanrigg for retorting.

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 (55.867721, -4.469680), site of the Blackstone pits
  2. show in map (55.856745,-4.478933), marked as "old ironstone pit". The history of this site is unclear.

Site Maps

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


SINKING OF A NEW PIT. - Messrs. Black & Sons, Johnstone, the lessees of the minerals on the Blackston estate, are sinking a pit for shale on the farm of the Mains.
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 8th June 1872

PIT ON FIRE. On Tuesday night, the pit belonging the Blackstoun Mineral Company, situated about 3 miles from Paisley in the Blackstoun estate, was reported to be on fire by several of the men who had been engaged working in it. This new shale and coal pit, and is about 54 fathoms deep; but the place where the fire occurred is not at the extreme depth. The men had ignited a "blower," or a quantity of gas, which set fire to the coal. Mr. R. Waddell, foreman, sent for assistance to Paisley, and Mr. Gillespie, the superintendent of fire brigade, went out with a quantity of hose, and, at distance of about 300 yards, commenced to pump water into the pit from the river Cart.
The Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser, 18th March 1874

FATAL ACCIDENT AT BLACKSTONE.— Monday forenoon while a man named William Hailey was employed filling trucks with calcined ironstone at Blackstone Ironstone Pit, a large quantity of material suddenly fell upon him and crushed him severely. A number of his fellow workers hastened to convey him to the Paisley Infirmary, but before they arrived there the poor man died. Deceased was a widower, about fifty years of age, and was resident at Linwood.
The Paisley & Renfrewshire Advertiser, 27th November 1875

EXPLOSION IN A COAL PIT NEAR PAISLEY. Yesterday morning, an explosion, which was happily not attended with fatal consequences, took place in a coal pit on the Blackston estate, near Houston Railway Station, some three miles distant from Paisley. The pit where the accident occurred is sunk to a depth of 50 fathoms, and the minerals presently wrought are rough coal and shale. The lessees are the Blackstone Mineral Company, and they own several mines in the vicinity. The usual inspection of the pit was made at five o'clock yesterday morning by the fireman, who warned the workmen, about 30 in number, when they descended the pit about an hour later, to use their safety lamps as a precaution against fire-damp in one of the headings. About eight o'clock, while three men were working in the heading with regard to which they had been warned, an explosion of fire-damp occurred. The three men and a fourth, who was working in their immediate vicinity, were all burned about the arms and face. They were removed to the surface and carried to the cottages in Blackston Row. Medical aid was sent for, but owing to the distance from Paisley some time necessarily elapsed before Dr Holms and Dr Lewis reached the village. The greatest sufferer was John M'Guiness, residing at Linwood, who was much burned about the arms and face. The names of the other sufferers are Alexander M'Ray, residing at Blackston Row, and James M'Guiness and Edward M'Instry, both residing at Linwood. In the course of the afternoon M'Guiness and M'Ray were removed to the Paisley Infirmary, the other two men being taken to their homes at Linwood. They are all progressing favourably. The men are generally blamed by the miners around as having been working with naked lights, contrary to the caution given them by the fireman before they made their descent.
The Glasgow Herald, 24th August 1878

A meeting of the men employed at Blackston coal and ironstone pits. who came out on strike on Wednesday, was called yesterday by Mr. Peter Hume, checkweighman. It was stated that, so far as the coal miners were concerned, the manager had decided that at present he could give no further increase than the 6d per day granted on Thursday, but that the men would receive the full shilling in the event of its being granted throughout the country. The ironstone men were refused an advance at present. but in the event of any increase being given the ironstone miners in the Inkerman pits adjoining them, an increase will likewise be conceded the Blackston men. In sympathy with the ironstone men, the coal miners at Blackston did not start work yesterday. Another meeting was, however, held in the afternoon, as the result of which, it is believed, the coal miners will return to work to-day.
The Glasgow Herald, 16th April 1898

FREEMAN v. BLACK & SONS. Issues were ordered in an action in which Mrs Elizabeth Craig or Freemnan, 31 Blackston Rows, Renfrew, and her eight children sue William Black & Sons (Limited), coalmasters, 18 George Sqnare, Glasgow, for payment of £500, or alternatively £195, in respect of the death of her husband, who was a boiler foreman in the employment of the defenders at their Blackston mineral pit. On 20th May last, while the deceased was engaged starting a donkey-engine at the pit-head, he slipped, with the result that his left foot was crushed between the spokes of the wheel. He died about a fortnight afterwards as the result of his injuries. The pursuer contends that the deceased was not provided with proper appliances for starting the engine, and that the fly-wheel ought to have been fenced. The defenders deny fault.
The Glasgow Herald, 2nd June 1899

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