Scottish shale Scottish shale

Dr. James Steele (firm)

Active in the oil business from c.1863
Active in the oil business until c.1870

James Steele (often spelled as "Steel") was a doctor of medicine, active in the Wishaw area from 1861 (or earlier) until at least 1869. His name frequently appeared in newspaper reports when administering to victims of industrial injuries, presenting lectures, and attending public events alongside Wishaw's elite. In 1862 he was elected honorary assistant-surgeon of the 57th Lanarkshire rifle volunteer corps. Dr. Steele would no doubt have been acquainted with Wishaw coalmaster Robert Bell, who controlled mineral rights in the Broxburn area, and Wishaw banker James Miller who was associated with Bell's shale interests in Broxburn.

Valuation rolls record Dr James Steele as proprietor of the Broxburn Oil Works (Steele's works) between 1863 and 1866, ownership then passing to James Miller. He was also proprietor of an oilworks in Stewartfield, Broxburn between 1865 and 1871.

James Steele was also partner in the firm of David Hamilton & Co., proprietors of Roman Camp shale Oil Works. This partnership was dissolved on 1st February 1870 following a financial dispute in which Steele had Hamilton imprisoned.

  • Newspaper references
    • CONCERT.—A grand concert, under the patronage the provost and magistrates of the burgh and officers of the 57th L.R.V.. was given Tuesday evening last within the Public School, for the benefit of the band connected with the corps. Long before the appointed hour, the hall was crowded by neatly all the elite of the town and neighbourhood, among whom observed James Miller. Esq, banker. Dr. Steele. Captain Mackay and party. Ensign Scott, Lieut, Shirlaw, Wishaw, Ensign Simpson. &c.

      Hamilton Advertiser, 7th February 1863


      Coltness Iron-Works. —The concluding lecture the session, under the auspices the Coltness Iron-Works Reading Room Association, was given in Newmains School, on Friday evening. current, James Steele, Esq.. M.D., Wishaw. The subject chosen for lecture by the learned gentleman was the "Earth" in relation to its formation, changes under volcanic eruptions, and tidal encroachments. The lecture, which occupied upwards of two hours in delivery, was one evincing diligent research and thorough investigation into all the laws relating to modern geology. Towards the conclusion, Dr. Steele cursorily reviewed the Huttonian. Newtonian, and the Darwin, or development theory, and gave a prominence to the opinion held and propagated by Dr. Chalmers, Pye Smith, and kindred spirits. Altogether the lecture was masterpiece research and exposition, and was listened to with the most marked and interested attention. Thomas Gray, manager Iron-works, occupied the chair, and proposed, at the conclusion, a vote thanks for the very superior lecture which they had listened. The proposition was responded to with a will. It is to regretted that Dr. Steel appears so seldom in the lecture-room on every occasion in which he has given a public lecture, his superior abilities and learning on scientific subjects have been received with much acceptance.

      Hamilton Advertiser, 21st March 1868