Annual Reports

Dividends chart

In the past few days we’ve uploaded the last batch of Annual Reports to our website. We don’t have every one – for example, we only have those for Pumpherston Oil Company from 1913 – but what we do have is now available for you to view¬†online.

Annual Report
Broxburn Oil Company Annual Report, 1888

So what do they tell us? Well, they provide a range of information.

  • The company directors
  • The company assets and liabilities
  • Where the company money is invested
  • The dividends paid to shareholders

Looking at each Annual Report, it may seem a little dry; facts and figures relating to the previous year’s business. But those facts and figures can be turned into data that is much more accessible. Take the company dividends for example. A line chart can quickly show the ups and downs of the company, via the dividends given to shareholders (if the dividends are high then the company is making a profit). What immediately jumps out is the ‘down’ period during the 1930s, both preceded and followed by a period of sustained success.

Dividends chart
Dividends given to shareholders

We can then go off on a tangent and ask who were these people being given dividends? Well, they weren’t the men working in the mines and oil works. They tended to be company directors, and people with money, often living many hundreds of miles away from the shale company operations. In fact, many probably never entered a shale works in their lives.

Page from a Pumpherston Oil Co. Ltd shareholders’ book

The office staff, such as those pictured here outside Middleton Hall, would have collated information from a number of disparate sources to create a single, simple document.

Office staff outside Middleton Hall
Office staff outside Middleton Hall