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Oil shale pits

Coal shale pits


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Home > Companies & Works > Shale Mines > Polbeth No.11 pit

Polbeth No. 11 pit

Location 55.860798, -3.566582, show in map
Shale-field Polbeth and Gavieside shale-field
Dates opened and closed Opened c. 1867, abandoned 1900 (or 1927?)
Owner Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd
Type of working Vertical shaft(s) 402ft to Houston Coal, 660ft to Broxburn Shale, 777ft to Fells Shale
Seams worked Houston Coal, Broxburn Shale, Fells Shale
Oil works served Addiewell Chemical Works
Current status of site Returned to agriculture. Waste bing remains as wooded area within farmland


A long-lived pit, situated in Gavieside Village and sometimes referred to as Gavieside No. 11. At various times Fells Shale, Broxburn Shale and Houston Coal were brought to the surface by one of a number of shafts on this site. The site of one of the worst pit disasters in the history of the industry in which four died (the youngest aged 14) when the cage became disengaged from the slides within the shaft.

Workings in the Fells Shale extended north from No. 11, ultimately joining with Fells Shale workings from Westwood No. 30 Pit. Plans suggest that workings in the Fells Shale also extended to the south and east of No. 11, linking via a cross-cut mine to workings from Polbeth No. 8 Pit and Polbeth No. 10 Pit. Fells Shale workings were abandoned in 1900 (or 1927?).

An area of Houston Coal was worked to the east of No. 11, perhaps the workings at "Polbeth" referred to in abandonment plan 3269/A, dated 1894 / 1901. Sketch plans show an adit near the eastern end of Gavieside Row that might have provided alternative access to these workings.

Plans show a roadway heading south west from No. 11 accessing areas of Broxburn Shale, ultimately linked by a cross cut mine to the workings of Polbeth No. 10 Pit.


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

Underground Workings

Recent Images


TO SINKERS. CONTRACTORS WANTED to SINK No.11 PIT, in the Lands of Polbeth, from its present Depth to the Shale , about 100 Fathoms, more or less. Specifications and Conditions may be had on application here. Offers to be addressed to Mr. R. Scott, Manager, to be lodged on or before Friday 18th Curt. Addiewell Chemical Works, West Calder, 9th October 1867. Glasgow Herald, Friday 11th October 1867.

YOUNG'S PARAFFIN LIGHT AND MINERAL OIL COMPANY (LIMITED). CERTIFICATED OVERSMEN WANTED to take charge of this Company's new mine openings - viz., (1) at No.11 pit, Polbeth; (2) at No. 27 Mine, Polbeth; (3) at No.31 pit Polbeth. Applications to be made by letter to the undersigned on or before Monday 23rd instant. JOHN FYFE, Managing Director. The Scotsman 13th November 1891.

Messrs. Scott and Mountain have also in hand for Messrs. Young's Praffin Oil Co., of Glasgow, an electric pumping plant for their No.11 pit at Polbeth. This plant consists of a horizontal engine, driving by bely on to a Tyne dynamo giving an output of 40,000 watts. The dynamo supplies current to two sets of three throw ram pumps, driven by electric motors of 25 effective h.p. each, and delivering 150 and 100 gallons per minute respectively against a head of 270 feet. The first pump is situated at a distnace of 850 yards from the dynamo, and a second pump further down the dip 600 yards away, the total distance between the second pump and the dynamo being 1450 yards.Sheffield Independent, 1st October 1896

A similar (pumping) unit (to that installed by the Midcalder Oil Company at Oakbank in 1876) was erected at Young's Oil Co.'s No.11 pit, Gavieside, about 1882. Sneddon, Caldwell and Stein, Seventy Five Years of Oil Shale Mining, Institute of Petroleum, 1938.

Accident Records


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