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This website was established in May 2010 and has developed continuously since then. Our aim is to share information held in our museum collection and archive with a wider audience, encourage further research into the history of the industry, and provide a forum for the exchange of knowledge.

Although new content is added on a weekly basis, much of the information presented remains incomplete and doubtless contains errors, omissions or is based on false assumptions. We would be delighted to hear from anyone spotting inaccuracies in these pages or able to fill gaps in our knowledge.

We would also greatly welcome offers of volunteer assistance in the continuing development of this site, and associated programmes of research.


Social Media

facebook Our Facebook page records the everyday progress of the project, and explores some oddities of shale history.

twitter Get the latest news and twitterings on our Twitter page.


New Website

Coming Soon

Thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Recognition Fund administered by Museum Galleries Scotland, work is now underway to create a new platform for this website. This will be fully responsive for use on all devices, database driven to improve performance, and feature map and image based interfaces for easy browsing. The substantial task of creating a new database and page templates, then transfering all data, should be completed soon.

Browse our Blog

blog link


fracking in scotland
A Recognised Collection of National Importance


The story of Scotland's shale oil industry


The Scottish shale oil industry has a remarkable and important history.

Bathgate Chemical Works, established in 1851, was perhaps the first site in the world where mineral oils were processed on an industrial scale. From this blossomed an extensive oil industry that competed successfully against cheaper imported petroleum for many years, and continued in operation until 1962. Such fierce competition bred innovation, progress, and a body of Scots know-how that contributed greatly towards the development of the oil industry throughout the world.

This website is being developed to celebrate, exchange knowledge, and encourage research into this special heritage. We hope that the resource will be of particular value to those researching family histories.


Research resources for family historians

Employment records

A database of surviving company documents.

Trades and occupations

Descriptions of working life in the industry.

Notable personalities

Inventors, entrepreneurs, and worthies.


Records of sites associated with the shale oil industry

Oil works and refineries

Covering all parts of Scotland.

Company housing & villages

In Scottish oil-shale districts.

Mines, pits and quarries

In Scottish oil-shale districts.

Beyond Scotland

Scottish influence throughout the world


Original papers offering an introduction to the industry

An introduction to shale oil

Its history, technology and geology.

Company histories

Information files on each oil company.

Your research & reminiscences

Contributions from independent authors.


Catalogue of objects and archives held here and elsewhere.

Museum collection

The Scottish shale oil industry collection.

BP archive

Company records now held by our museum.

Reference collection

Copy images and documents.

Collections survey

Other museum collections, surveyed 2009.

West Lothian in postcards

Local images plotted on maps.


Research resources available on-line

Pamphlets and publications

Archive publications as digital books.

Oral histories

Transcripts of interviews conducted 1983-90.

Transcripts and notes

Extracts from newspapers and magazines.

Learning and sharing

Resources for schools and research noticeboard

Schools pages

Become a Shale Oil Explorer.

Essays and exhibitions

Presentations on the shale oil story.

About us

Almond Valley is a family-friendly museum established in 1990 to preserve and interpret the history and environment of West Lothian. It also continues the work of an oil museum research project which, since 1983, had collected objects and archives associated with the shale industry. Download our collections development policy.

Much of the collection is now displayed in The Scottish Shale Oil Museum; one of a range of educational and leisure facilities at Almond Valley, close to Livingston, West Lothian.

For further information on a great day out at Almond Valley visit our main web site.

We are a member of Industrial Museums Scotland and Oil Museums in Europe.

Latest work to the site


  • We've just added a fabulous book called Bygone Days by Daniel Rankin Stueart, which details the life of this oil industry chemist. Interestingly, it also includes the First World War letters sent home from the front by his son.
  • One of our fabulous volunteers has just transcribed a book detailing the quality of candles. It also contains information about a worker attempting to get compensation after an injury.
  • A new blog about transport in the shale industry
  • Our volunteers continue to churn out transcribed documents. Have a look at this minute book, from Scottish Oils Ltd, this minute book from the Dalmeny Oil Co., and this lease book from James Ross & Co.
  • Dr Alexander Scott's investigation into occupational dermatoses, and cancer, amongst paraffin workers.

Every object tells a story:

Seeing the collection through our volunteers' eyes


Our new exhibition has been co-curated with our volunteers who each selected an object from our collection that spoke to them and shared their personal stories behind their choices. Storytelling allows us to draw links between the past, present and future and bring to life the human presence behind any object. This exhibition will be on display in the museum or you can explore it online here.













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.