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Scottish mines

Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


A Recognised Collection of National Importance

Home > Companies & Works > Scottish Shale Mines > Ochiltree coal mines

Ochiltree coal mines

Location Northern mine; 55.955911, -3.535642, show in map
Southern mine; 55.953365, -3.533501 show in map
Shale-field Champfleurie, Philpstoun and Blackness shale-field
Dates opened and closed Northern mine: Opened c.1902, closed c.1903.
Southern mine; opened c.1885, closed c.1888
Owner Linlithgow Oil Company Ltd
Type of working Inclined adit
Seams worked Houston Coal
Oil works served Champfleurie (Bridgend) Oil Works
Current status of site Northern mine: substantial remains of foundations of mine buildings, surrounded by agricultural land
Southern mine: no surviving surface remains; site returned to agriculture


At the first AGM of the Linlithgow Oil Company, held in August 1885, it was announced;

"They had now a colliery on the Ochiltree property, from which they expected to be able to supply the present necessities of the works in the way of fuel. That was a very exception thing regarding an oil work; but he was glad to be able to say that they were able to get coal, which meant a very considerable saving to them."

This colliery at Ochiltree lay on the southern face of a consderable ridge running east to west, along the top of which ran the Ochiltree road. The oil works lay three quarters of a mile to the north, on the north face of the ridge. Coal therefore had to be hauled up the south face of the ridge, climbing about 50 ft, before crossing the Ochiltree road, and then dropping about 120ft to the works.

A manuscript report in the BP collection indicates that a hutch road (tramway) was installed to link the coal mine to the oil works, but this was only ever intended to be a temporary facility. The horse-drawn hutch road climbed the ridge, crossed the Ochiltree road on the level, and followed the verge of Ochiltree to Bridgend road as far as the brick works. From here the hutches descended by a gravity-worked incline to the works. The crossing of the public road was agreed with the Linlithgowshire Road Trustees;

"The state of the Auldhill road from Bridgend to Ochiltree was considered; also a communication from the Linlithgow Oil Company, offering to make a hutch road from their coal works along side the present road." (The Scotsman, 6th February 1886)

"It was reported that an arrangement had been made with the Linlithgow Oil Company in regards to their level crossings and hutch road." (The Scotsman, 10th April 1886)

With the high cost of transport by temporary hutch road, it soon proved cheaper to buy-in coal supplies, and the Ochiltree colliery was closed in 1888. The manuscript report (probably written in the late 1890's) indicates that the Road Trustees had refused to allow a level crossing of the Ochiltree road by a more efficient permanent tramway or haulage, insisting that a bridge be constructed to carry the tramway beneath the road. The oil company considered this did not warrant the investment. The report went on to propose a new mine be sunk from a site to the north of the Ochiltree road that would join underground to the earlier workings. From this new mine site a new powered, rope-worked haulage could be installed directly to the works without need to cross the public road.

It appears that the oil company accepted the advice of the report and invested £5,332 in the sinking and fitting out of the new mine in c.1900, including the construction of a substantially engineered incline following a straight route direct to the works (for references see Ochiltree Collieries). Difficulties were experienced in sinking of the mine, which may have contributed to the failure of the company in 1902 and the abandonment of all operations..


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

Underground Workings


Recent Images


The new coal mine which was recently opened up by the Linlithgow Oil Company, on the Ochiltree estate of Lord Rosebery, and which had been stopped temporarily, has this week resumed operations. In the sinking and fitting out of the mine, as sum of £5,332 had been expended.

The Falkirk Herald, 15th June 1901.


Quite recently a coal mine was opened up on the Ochiltree side, which belong to Lord Rosebery, and it was thought that by this means a saving would be effected in the providing of fuel for the works. The mine, however, on which a considerable sum of money had been expended, was not a success.


Edinburgh Evening News, 5th February 1902.

....at the foot of Binny Criag themself, a long disused coal-pit, of which the chimney still remains, on the farm of Little Ochiltree. The pit was long worked by the Linlithgow Oil Company for steam coal, till competition produced better coal at a lower price elsewhere

The Linlithgowshire Gazette, 18th April 1902


On the west side of the basin, a little to the west of Little Ochiltree, the Linlithgow Oil Company drove two mines into this coal and used it for furnace and retort purposes.

Oil Shales of the Lothians; British Geological Survey, 1906.



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