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

Walkinshaw ironstone, coal & shale pits

Location Parish of Abbey, Renfrewshire (55.863039, -4.455070) (No.1 pit). show in map
Shale-field Renfrewshire shale field
Dates opened and closed Minerals worked between c.1855 and 1915, shale worked during 1870's and 80's
Owner Merry & Cunninghame, Walkinshaw Oil Co Ltd..
Type of working Pits
Seams worked Lille's coal shale, ironstone, coal
Oil works served Inkerman Oil Works
Current status of site Site of pits and associated works survive as rough grazing within farmland.


Available evidence indicates that Merry & Cunninghame (coal and iron masters with extensive mineral interests in the west of Scotland), began working ironstone at Walkinshaw (No.1) pit during the mid 1850's. The first edition OS map (surveyed c.1857) shows the engine house buildings of the pit, but no rail link. An 1862 newspaper account (see snippets below) indicates that by that date a mineral railway had been constructed to serve the pit. An 1874 newspaper account describes the pit as 65 fathoms deep and employing upwards of 60 miners. Operation of the pit seems to been taken over by the Walkinshaw Oil Co. c.1881 to supply their new Inkerman oil works. 1n 1885 the Walkinshaw oil company is recorded as working both shale and ironstone from Walkinshaw pit, under the management of Robert Gibb

1n c.1891, follow demise of the Walkinshaw Oil Company, Merry & Cunninghame opened Walkinshaw No.2 pit to the north east of the original Walkinshaw pit, and extended the mineral railway to serve the new site. The second edition OS map, surveyed c.1895 shows a substantial complex of pithead buildings with an associated brickworks. The third edition OS map (c.1914) shows the pit buildings intact, but a new set of brick kilns in place if the original. In 1914 plans were submitted for the abandonment of ironstone workings at Walkinshaw No.2 & 3 pits. The brickworks seem to have continued in production at least into the 1940's, under the ownership of the Walkinshaw Brick Company. OS maps, published c.1950, shows an aerial ropeway was used to transfer pit waste for brick making from the site of Blackstone pits to the Walkinshaw brick kilns.

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 (55.863039, -4.455070), Walkinshaw ironstone pit (Walkinshaw No.1 ?)
  2. show in map Walkinshaw No.2 & 3 pits (55.858620, -4.455447)

Location Maps

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


The Recent Accident at the Walkinshaw Pit.—We understand that, after making inquiry into the circumstances connected with the death of the boy Smith, which took place at the Walkinshaw Ironstone Pit, on the 14th December, the authorities have discharged Mr. John Ferguson, the engine keeper, the examination of the witnesses showing that he was blameless in the matter.
The Paisley & Renfrewshire Advertiser, 31st December 1859

On Monday last, a driver at Walkinshaw Ironstone Pit, named Robert Gibson, and residing at No. 77 George Street, Paisley, was engaged with a horse drawing waggons laden with ironstone, on the branch railway leading from that pit, and when about to unhook the chain from the waggon by which the horse was attached to it, he unfortunately missed doing so, and the animal at the same time turning round and going away, the consequence was that Gibson got entangled with the chain, and was thrown down amongst the waggons, by which was severely injured as to be considered in a precarious state. He was removed home, where he was attended to by Dr. Taylor, but he was afterwards conveyed to the infirmary
The Paisley & Renfrewshire Advertiser, 20th September 1862

SUPPOSED INCENDIARISM. Considerable excitement has been caused in the neighbourhood of the mining village of Inkerman, near Paisley, by the fact that on Saturday night late, or early Sunday morning, serious fire occurred at the Walkinshaw Ironstone Pit, which supposed to have been the work of incendiaries. The pit is situate immediately adjoining the Greenock branch of the Caledonian Railway, and near to the village of Inkerman. It is about 65 fathoms deep, employs upwards of 60 miners, and is possessed Merry & Cunninghame (Limited). The engine-keepers there shortly since were reduced in wages sixpence per day, and in consequence an intimation of further reduction of one shilling per day the men have in their warning, and this terminated on Saturday. The manager of the works, Mr. Kirkwood, being without proper person take charge of the engines, placed a private watchman there. Saturday night, about midnight, while he was in a wooden house about yards from the pit mouth, he observed that the engine house was on fire, and that the flames had gained such complete mastery that it was impossible to save the place. In a few minutes it was burned to the ground. 'The fire also greatly damaged the engine, and burned to pieces the ropes with which the cages are wound up, causing the cages to fall, with about 35 fathoms of ropes, to the bottom of the shaft. The watchman states that heard a noise, but did not see any person about. The damage estimated at about £1,000 and besides this the whole of the men engaged at the pit are thrown out of employment. Investigation has been made both by the Renfrewshire police authorities and also the manager of the works, and from information gained there is great reason to suppose that the fire had been the work incendiaries.
The Paisley & Renfrewshire Advertiser, 9th May 1874

JOHNSTONE - REVIVAL OF THE MINING TRADE. - Contracts have been settled for the construction of a service railway branch, about a mile in length, from Inkerman to near Walkinshaw House. Mr. F Harvey, of Lesmahagow, has secured the work. The railway is for the use of a new pit to be opened in the district for the working of coal and ironstone. Messrs. Merry & Cunninghame, for a whom the work is to be executed, have also for several months had powerful machinery at work in the pumping of the water out of the old workings near Linwood, with a view to the extraction of the coal and iron ore in the district. It is stated that it will take about 25 years to remove the minerals. A pit is also to be opened on the grounds of Mr. Richardson of Ralston, situated between Johnstone and Howwood. The necessary plant for the working of the mine is being put down and operations will start at once.
The Glasgow Herald, 17th February 1890

PAISLEY.-CONTREVENTION OF MINES REGULATIONS.-At the Sheriff Court, Sheriff James Cowan presiding, James McArthur and James Woodrow, both miners, residing in Camphill, in Paisley, were each fined £1 or ten days' imprisonment for having, on 10th October, failed to place sprags or holing props in their working places in No. 2 Walkinshaw Pit, where they were employed. The indictment set forth that one of the rules of it the pit was that the employees should themselves place the props in their several working places.
The Glasgow Herald, 22nd October 1895

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