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A Recognised Collection of National Importance

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Family histories & working lives

It has been estimated that, at it's height, over 10,000 people were employed, or owed a livelihood, to the shale oil industry in Scotland. The slow decline of the industry during the first half of the 20th century resulted in many moving away from the shale districts in search of employment, with some emigrating overseas. Today people from many parts of the world are proud to claim ancestors who worked in to shale oil industry.

Unfortunately very few employment records have survived from the shale oil companies, so our research has instead had to glean information on individuals from incidental references in other official documents. A database of this very incomplete record of employment details can be searched on this site. Information is also provided on occupations, and individuals named in accident reports and newspapers.

Family history resources

Employment records

Database of employment details from official documents


Descriptions of occupations associated with the industry


Information of those injured and killed in the shale oil industry


Other Sources

Other information that many be of interest to those researching family histories:



Life histories of notable entrepreneurs and inventors associated with the industry

Oil Works

A gazetteer of coal-oil and shale -oil works, oil refineries, and other places of work.

Shale Mines

A gazetteer of shale mines in the Lothians shale field, with notes of operators and history.

Shale Villages

A listing and description of the company housing constructed to house oil workers and miners.

Community Pages

A miscellany of resources and information on the communities that served the oil industry


An area for exchange of information for those researching their family histories.

creative commons

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.