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Home > Companies & Works > Scottish Oil Works > Hopetoun Oil Works

Hopetoun Oil Works

Location 55.950225, -3.469568. show in map
Former parish and county Parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire
Current local authority area West Lothian
Construction history Built c. 1872
Ownership history Uphall Mineral Oil Company Ltd, Uphall Oil Company Ltd, Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd
Demolition history Demolished c 1952
Current status of site Derelict land, industrial unit incorporating original baths? building


Hopetoun Oil Works operated for a longer period than any other crude oil works in Scotland. It was one of three oil works established by the Uphall Mineral Oil Company Ltd, and supplied crude oil to their Uphall Refinery by means of a circuitous railway line from Uphall (built 1886) that also served the company's Forkneuk pits. The works were initially supplied by Hopetoun No. 1 and Hopetoun No. 2 shale pits, adjacent to the works and subsequently by Hopetoun No. 3 mine which lay to the south east. The company constructed housing for most of the workforce in Niddry Rows.

Amalgamation of the Uphall Oil Company Ltd with Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd in 1883 led to new investment in Hopetoun Oil Works and the replacement of the last of the vertical retorts originally used there. New mines were sunk to the north and west of the works served by a mineral railway that eventually extended as far as Fawnspark, close to Philpstoun.

The works were substantially rebuilt in about 1906 and new retorts installed. A substantial album of photographs records this construction work in progress (LVSAV2009.028). Having exhausted available space to dump spent shale in the vicinity of the works, a haulage was constructed as part of these modernisation works, passing beneath the Greendykes to Winchburgh road to a new tip south of the works. This bing was subsequently extended eastward, placing Niddry Rows in continual shadow, and ultimately formed a continuous mass with the Broxburn Oil Company Ltd's Albyn bing. Following the formation of Scottish Oils Ltd in 1918, a short railway line was built to link Hopetoun Oil Works with their refinery at Broxburn.

The works were closed in 1948 and demolished in c.1952.

Valuation Records

Entries between 1872 and 1951. Download details


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

Archive Images

Recent Images


At Hopetoun the vertical retorts were stopped last month; and now the company's retort plant is all of the most modern and approved description, consisting entirely of the Pentland and Henderson retorts, the two best which have been yet devised. AGM of Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd reported in Glasgow Herald 18th June 1885

HOPETOUN OIL WORKS. - Operations are going on apace in connection with alterations at Hopetoun Oil Works. Quite a number of labourers are engaged making the haulage road for the new spent shale bing, and it is expected that a new bench of retorts will soon be ready. West Lothian Courier, 30th November 1906

Young's Company is making rapid progress with its extension of plant at Hopetoun, Niddry. Mining operations have begun and a new mineral railway to Niddry will soon be busy. West Lothian Courier, 15th March 1907

Accident Records

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We are happy to licence use of many images, extracts, and other resources of this website under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial licence (Scotland). See full copyright statement. Such material should be attributed to Almond Valley Heritage Trust and, where practical, a hyperlink provided to www.scottishshale.co.uk.