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Home > Companies & Works > Scottish Oil Works > Breich Oil Works

Breich oil works

sometimes referred to as Hermand Oil Works

Location 55.864145, -3.584244, show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Livingstone, Linlithgowshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Built c.1886
Ownership history Hermand Oil Company Ltd (Old), Hermand Oil Company Ltd (New), New Hermand Oil Company Ltd
Demolition history Dismantled c.1903
Current status of site Site now a coach garage; the bing remains as wooded waste land

Redwood noted "

In 1886 the Hermand Oil Company, with a capital of £265,750, built a crude oil works at West Calder and did a fair business until it took the Walkinshaw Oil Company into amalgamation in 1890. The principal reason for the amalgamation was to secure the Walkinshaw Oil Company's refinery, which had been standing idle since 1886. It of course entailed the expenditure of a very large sum of money to put the refinery into working order, not to speak of the new and improved machinery that was bought to enable the company "to manufacture or refine oil as cheaply as its competitors", and, when everything was ready to start, the company concluded that, as market values had taken a sudden drop, they would close up both works until the market improved again. Both works are still closed !"

The Breich Oil Works were sometimes referred to as "Hermand Oil Works" and are labelled such on Ordnance Survey maps. These works should not be confused with the Hermand Oil Company Ltd's crude oil works at Hermand, or earlier oil works in the Hermand Estate (Hermand Shale Oil Works and East Hermand Crude Oil Works), or the former Walkinshaw Oil Company Ltd's refinery near Paisley owned by the Hermand Oil Company Ltd.

The Hermand Oil Company Ltd was established in 1885 to construct a new crude oil works at Breich, about a mile north of West Calder. Worker's housing was constructed at Mid Breich. The company was dissolved and a new Hermand Oil Company Ltd formed in 1890 to incorporate the interests of the previous company and those of the Walkinshaw Oil Company Ltd. Crude oil produced at Breich was transported to Inkerman Oil Works near Paisley for refining. After a period in which very little oil was produced, this company was also wound up and a further new company; the New Hermand Oil Company Ltd, established in 1899. This also made little progress and was wound up in 1905. The site and mineral rights were then bought by the Pumpherston Oil Company Ltd.


Valuation Records

Listed between 1886 and 1903. Download details



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

Plans & Drawings



REVIVAL OF OILWORKS.-Breich Oilworks are to be restarted by the Hermand Oil Company. They have been standing idle for many years.

The Aberdeen Journal 4th October 1897.

The New Hermand oil works have been seriously affected by the stoppage of the Linlithgow Oil Company. Half the crude oil produced at the Hermand Works was taken by the Linlithgow Company, and the closing of that market for crude oil has compelled the Hermand Company not only to reduce their output but also to intimate a reduction of miners wages by 3d. Per ton as an alternative to closing the works althogether. The miners have got till Tuesday to accept of reject the proposal.

The Scotsman 8th February 1902.

NEW HERMAND WORKS TO BE STOPPED. Notices have been posted at the works of the New Hermand Oil Company stating that the works will be closed down on Saturday. The closing down of the works coming so soon after the stoppage of the Caledonian Mineral Oil Works at Tarbrax and Lanark and the Linlithgow Oil Works shows that the smaller oil companies of Scotland have fallen on difficult times. The New Hermand Company had been in liquidation for some time, and an effort was made to sell the works and mines as a going concern but a purchaser was not found. The company, since its reconstruction, has been greatly hampered for the want of modern retorts, and it is felt that these made all the difference between profit making and a weekly loss.

The Scotsman 19th February 1903.

FOR SALE AS A GOING CONCERN, The BUSINESSS of CRUDE OIL and SULPHATE of AMMONIA MANUFACTURES, as carried on by The New Hermand Oil Company, Ltd., at their Breich Works, West Calder, together with The BUILDINGS on the GROUND, The Valuable MINERAL ESTATE of MID-BREICH and The FARM and MINERAL LEASES of EASTER and WESTER BREICH. The Works are situated in the Parish of Livingstone, 1.5 miles from West Calder Station, and comprehend the following: One Bench of 32 Pumpherston Patent Retorts, complete with Fan and Condenser power, sufficient for a daily throughput of 300 tons: Ammonia and Naptha Scrubbers, with Pumps and all necessary connections: Sulphate of Ammonia Manufacturing Plant; 5 D.F. Lancashire, 1, Cornish and 4 E.E. Steam Boilers; Horizontal, Coupled, Winding and Haulage Engines; Breaking Machine, Vertical Boring Machine, Screw-cutting lathe, Pipe-Screwing Machine, Dynamo (New) 110V. X 53 Amp.; M.I. Stock, Tanks &c. &c. Also 46 SINGLE and DOUBLE WORKMEN'S HOUSES. The Manager at Breich will show the Works and point out the boundaries to intending Offerers on receiving one day's notice, and information as to the Minerals may be obtained from the Company's Engineers, Messrs WILLIAMSON, Further particulars will be furnished by F.H. LOCKHART THOMSON. W.S., 114 George Street Edinburgh, Agent for the Liquidator, with whom Offers must be lodged no later than Saturday 14th February.

The Scotsman, 7th February 1903


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