Scottish shale Scottish shale

Westfield Oil Co. Ltd.

Company number:
Registered in Scotland, No. 1229
Share capital:
13th April 1883
28th March 1889
Registered office:

44 Frederick Street, Edinburgh.

A short-lived public company, formed to acquire mineral rights and the abandoned works of the former Capeldrae Coal & Oil Co. Ltd. from George Simpson. The works were rebuilt with the latest Young & Bielby retorts, in the expectation that increased Ammonium Sulphate production would support the viability of operations.

Like many of the enterprises brokered by George Simpson, the company's expectations quickly proved ill-founded, and creditors petitioned for wind-up of the company after less than three years operation. The company share many board members with the equally unsuccessful West Lothian Oil Co. Ltd.


  • William Potts - Ain Lodge, Blacket Place, Edinburgh
  • David Greig - Queens Crescent, Edinburgh
  • D. T. Sutherland - Bathgate
  • Archibald Simpson - Trinity, Edinburgh

  • Associated references
    • Registration Records transcribed from dissolved company records held by the National Archives of Scotland.

  • Newspaper references

      As many of our Fife capitalists and readers in the west of the county are aware, extensive operations, involving an outlay of many thousands, are presently being carried on by a Joint-Stock Company at Westfield Oil Works, situated on the confines of the parishes of Kinglassie and Auchterderran, not far from Capeldrae. The Oil Works were in the hands of a former Company which, in consequence of the competition from the natural oil wells of America, had to be wound up. The new Company have thrown out all the old plant, and are presently laying down entirely new appliances at great cost. These are expected not only to get more oil from the shale than the old plant, but to utilise the "bye products" that modern practical chemistry is now able to extract from the raw material, which in the district is very rich and abundant. The "new departure" in such works is described in the following interesting article which we take from the Glasgow Herald: (the quoted article describes, in somewhat sensational terms, the operation of the Young & Bielby retort and its advantages in the production of ammonium sulphate).

      Fife Herald, 5th September 1883



      The first annual meeting of the Westfield Oil Company was held this afternoon at 5 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. There was a small attendance of shareholders. The report, which has already been published, stated that the directors were of opinion that the immediate erection of a refinery was necessary, and thought it proper ask the shareholders to sanction the borrowing of £15,000 for the purpose by means of debentures bearing interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum.

      Mr D. T. Sutherland, interim chairman, moved the adoption of the report. He said it was stated in the prospectus that the retorts would be erected tor £7000, and the pits and mines developed for £2500. The cost, however, had been £8957 for the retorts and for the pits and mines. The actual expenditure had been about £5000 greater than originally estimated. That money considered, well spent, as the mine and the new pit were capable giving a larger output than was mentioned in prospectus. He was sorry the results had been so disappointing, but the sole cause was that they bad no outlet for their crude oil. They were not alone that respect; there were other companies in the same position. Mr. Greig, builder, Edinburgh, seconded the chairman's motion, and its adoption and the election of directors concluded the business.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 6th November 1884


      The Westfield Oil Company—Petition the Court of Session. —On Thursday a petition was presented to the First Division the Court of Session P. & W. Maclellan, iron and steel merchants, 120 Trongate, Glasgow, for the winding of the Westfield Oil Company, which has its registered office as 41 Frederick Street, Edinburgh. The company was established for the purpose of carrying on the business of manufacturing mineral oils, especially in the lands of Westfield, and others, in the parish of Auchterderran, Fifeshire. The capital of the company is £25,000, divided into 2500 shares of £10, each of which has been allotted, and £8 10s per share had been paid up. On the 11th January last the petitioners obtained in the Debts Recovery Court, Edinburgh, decree against the Westfield Oil Company for the sum of £34 13s 2d, being the amount of an account due the company for goods supplied to them by the petitioners, together with a sum 15s of expenses. On the 12th January the petitioners duly charged the Westfield Oil Company to implement this decree, but the induciae of charge had expired without payment being made. The petitioners therefore submitted that the company was unable to pay its debts, and should be wound up. They suggest the appointment of Alexander More, C.A., Glasgow, as official liquidator. Intimation and advertisement of the petition were ordered.

      Fife Free Press, 30th January 1886


      The liquidator of the Westfield Oil Company has been recommended by a meeting of shareholders and creditors, to accept the highest offer above the sum of £2500 that he may receive for the mineral leases and plant between this date and 17th January.

      Dundee Courier 23rd December 1886


      A RENT PAYMENT DISPUTE. In the Second Division of the Court of Session this afternoon, their lordships gave judgement in action at the instance of George Simpson, Lomond House, Trinity, against Robert Aytoun, C.E., Edinburgh, and others, the trustees of James Aytoun, advocate, in which suspension was asked charge to pay £167 10s. In December last, while Mr Simpson was from home, decree was obtained against him for the sum mentioned in respect of rent for a portion of the field of Auchterderran, which he leased from Mr Aytoun's trustees. Simpson maintained that shortly after he entered into possession he sub-let the minerals to the Westfield Oil Company, and he maintained that they were liable respect to the rent. In defense, it was stated that the Westfield Oil Company were never tenants of the trustees; and before the company went into liquidation was not intimated that the lease had been assigned to them. In the Outer House, in June last, Lord Kinnear found that the charge was orderly proceeded with, and he repelled the reasons for suspension with expenses. This decision the Inner House has affirmed, with additional expenses.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 23rd November 1886