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Plan of Alderston

 

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Home > Companies & Works > Scottish Oil Works > Bellsquarry Oil Works

Bellsquarry oil works

Location 55.868820, -3.532741, show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Midcalder, Edinburghshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Built c.1864
Ownership history James Weir ?
Demolition history Demolished c.1871
Current status of site Not known

Bellsquarry Oil Works were listed by Redwood and stated to be in operation between 1864 and 1871. His book "Mineral oils and their products" includes a drawing of a "McBeath retort" said to have been used at Bellsquarry at about 1867. Historical notes compiled by Scottish Oils in 1947 lists a Wilderness pit or mine, operated by McBeath. The 1870 Post Office directory for Edinburghshire lists "James Weir, oil works, Bell's quarry". A James Weir, labourer, is listed in the 1871 census.

Little more is known about this small-scale oil works. Bellsquarry, now part of Livingston, was a rural village and a centre for limestone mining. The 1871 census lists several shale miners and oil workers resident in Bellsquarry

Charles McBeath, a "house carpenter" aged 32, and his family are recorded in the 1871 census as living at Yellowstruther, Bellsquarry. Also resident was McBeath's brother in law James Robertson, age 30, a "mineral oil refiner"

An plan of Alderston (or Alderstone) estate, dated 1878 (LVSAV 2010.004) shows "old shale workings" and a disused shaft adjacent to a belt of woodland known as "The Wilderness". A pond and rough ground is marked on the 1893 OS map at this location. A raised area of flat ground survives immediately west of the small burn, corresponded to hatched area on the map, which seems the most likely location for the oil works.

 

Valuation Records

No record has been found of the works in valuation rolls

 

Maps

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

Retorts

Redwood, in "Mineral Oils and their products" includes an engraving of the McBeath retort, said to have been in operation at the Bellsquarry oil work in about 1867.

mcbeath retort

References

In 1864.....works of considerable extent were erected in Gavieside, Charlesfield, Burngrange, and Hermand; and a small work was also erected near Bellsquarry.

West Calder and its Co-op Society, 1896

Provisional protection to the following patents - 601. To Charles McBeath, of Blackburn, in the county of Linlithgow, North Britain, Carpenter, for an invention of "improvements in retorts and apparatus connected therewith, for the purpose of distillation and calcination of minerals, parts of, which are applicable to other purposes."

The London Gazette, 23rd November 1866.

Patent law amendment - And Charles McBeath, of South Cobbinshaw, in the county of Edinburgh, North Britain, Carpenter, has given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in retorts and apparatus connected therewith, for the purpose of distillation and calcination of minerals, parts of, which are applicable to other purposes."

The London Gazette, 27th February 1874

 

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