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Scottish mines

Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


A Recognised Collection of National Importance

Home > Companies & Works > Shale Mines > Oakbank No.1 & 2 pits

Oakbank No.1 & 2 pits

Location 55.891580, -3.475950, show in map
Shale-field Midcalder district
Dates opened and closed Opened c.1865; working of Big Shale finished in 1900, Lower Big and McLean Shales in 1908, Dunnet Shale in 1909
Owner Oakbank Oil Company Ltd (Old), Oakbank Oil Company Ltd (New)
Type of working Vertical shaft
Seams worked Big Shale, Dunnet Shale
Oil works served Oakbank Paraffin Oil Works
Current status of site Private house


Oakbank Pit, sometimes known as Midcalder Pit, supplied most of the shale used by Oakbank Paraffin Oil Works during the 19th century. The two adjacent shafts (No. 1 and No. 2) accessed both the Dunnet Shale and the Broxburn Shale (locally known as the Big Shale).


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

Underground Workings

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The EDINBURGH GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY On Saturday this Society had their fifth excursion for the summer season, to Linhouse burn and the district around Mid-Calder. Mr Thomas Smyth was the conductor. The Society took the train to Kirknewton Station, and first visited East Camps Quarry, about two miles east of the village of Mid-Calder. The excursionists next walked to Mid-Calder and examined the operations at a shale-pit which has recently been sunk, a short distance above the bridge, by the Mid-Calder Mineral Oil Company. The Society then visited Oakbank Works. The Scotsman, 13th June 1865

NEW PUMPING MACHINERY AT OAKBANK OIL WORKS. One of the most extensive of the shale pits belonging to the company is on the banks of a tributary of the Almond, near the village of Mid-Calder. It is forty -three fathoms in depth. and when it was deemed advisable a few months age of work the lowest seam of shale, which is four and a half feet thick, it was found necessary to erect new pumping machinery to keep the workings dry. This machinery, which is as efficient in operation as novel in construction, was made by Messrs. A. Barclay & Son, engineers, Kilmarnock. The engine, which is of the overhanging-beam class, high pressure and condensing, has a steam cylinder 62 inches in diameter, with a stroke of 8 feet, which gives a stoke of 10 feet at the pumps......The engine having been christened "Maggie" by a young lady breaking a bottle of champagne over the beam, steam was put on, and the engine from the start worked with beautiful smoothness, and to the satisfaction of every one present. The Scotsman, 28th January 1876.

The Oakbank Oil Company today closed down the shale workings, which have supplied the works at Mid-Calder since their inception. The workings are unique in that they have yielded several hundred tons of shale per day for a generation. Lord Tophichen's daugher, the Hon. Miss Sandilands, cut the first sod of the new shale field acquired on the Calder House estate at Mid-Calder. The Dispatch, 7th April 1909.

Accident Records


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