Scottish shale Scottish shale

Boghead (lands)

Bathgate, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian

Property of the Durham family for over two centuries, including the landscaped policies of Boghead House. Owners were:

  • Prior to 1702 - James Hamilton
  • from 1702 - The Durham family
  • c.1830-1869 - Thomas Durham Weir
  • 1869 -c.1878 - Robert S Durham
  • c.1878-1899 - Thomas Maxwell Durham

Mineral Leasees

See: Pits in the Boghead Gas Coal for an overview of all lands in which the Boghead gas coal was worked

Boghead Gas Coal; a mineral exceptionally rich in gas and oil that gained an international reputation, was first found in the Boghead estate. Various anecdotes relate to its discovery. It was said that the unusually rich cannel coal was well known in 1837; pieces were found across the estate or "in the bog where it rises to the surface". A later account states that in 1848, Robert Geddes and Thomas Marshall leased the coal on the lands of Boghead, sunk a pit , but encountered drainage problems. In autumn 1849, James Russel & Son were assigned a 25 year lease of the estate's minerals and over the next decade sunk more than 15 pits to the Boghead coal, and in association with this worked a poor quality ball coal, and ironstone. Russel's lease ran for until 1874, although most reserves of Boghead Gas Coal seem to have been exhaused by 1870. In 1869 and 1870, Russels sold off many of winding engines, colliery equipment and permanent way as it closed its pits, although they continued to sell ball coal from No.10 and No.14 pits into 1872, and probably until termination of their lease in 1874.

Some time before 1874, the Gilles Brothers established the Boghead Fireclay Works, close to the site of No.12 pit. A seam of good quality fireclay occured with the Collinburn coal that lay a little above the seam of Boghead Gas Coal, and it seems likely that this waste material was brought to the surface and tipped on bings, and this waste was later used for brickmaking. The 1915 OS map shows that a tramway was in use, linking the brickworks with the bing of No.15 pit. The Boghead Fireclay and Brick Works continued into the 1920's

Young' PL&MO Co. leased the estate's minerals and associated property in 1880 (see Summary of leases and rents 215852, pages 7-14), relinquishing these in 1895. It appears that they drove a new mine (Boghead No.25), linking to Boghead No.10 pit to work what remained of the Boghead gas coal and the Colinburn coal, presumable to supply fuel to Bathgate Chemical Works.

In about 1882, Messrs Walker & Cameron, proprietors of the Balbardie collieries, sunk Boghead pit in the eastern edge of the estate to work the Balbardie seam at a depth of about 40 fathoms. Production ceased here by 1891. In about 1900, Gavin Paul & Co. reopened Boghead pit, extending the shaft to 150 fathoms deep to access the Main and Jewel seams of coal. Production continued until c.1920.

  • References to ownership and leases
    • LANDS IN LINLITHGOWSHIRE, AND FREEHOLD QUALIFICATION. To be SOLD by public roup, within the Royal Exchange Coffeehouse, Edinburgh, upon Wednesday the 5th day of June curt. at two o'clock afternoon, if not previously disposed of by private bargain

      I -THE ESTATE of BOGHEAD, lying in the parish of Bathgate, consisting of 321 English acres, or thereby, of land capable of great improvement. This property is distant from Edinburgh 19 miles, from Glasgow about 23, and one mile from the town of Bathgate. A mansion-house was lately built, which affords considerable accommodation, and a purchaser may have entry to it on the 1st day of July, and to the whole of the property at Martinmas thereafter. There is every reason to believe that Ironstone, Freestone, and Coal, are to be found in these lands, and the latter, in particular, may be wrought with great advantage.

      II,-The LANDS of MID-SEAT of FOULSHIELLS, consisting of 201 acres; as also, a FREEHOLD QUALIFICATION is the County of Linlithgow.

      III.- The LANDS of BIRNEY-HILL, consisting of 37 acres 2 roods.

      IV.-The LANDS of GARDENERSHALL, consisting of 27 acres 2 roods.

      V.-The LANDS of TAILEND, consisting of 12 acres, all English measure. The lands In the four last-mentioned lots lie in the parish of Whitburn, situate near the south road leading between Edinburgh and Glasgow, distant from the former 19 miles, from the latter 2, and one mile from-the village of Blackburn, two from Whitburn, and about three from Bathgate.

      To the greater part of these subjects immediate entry can be given. The several lots afford eligible. situations for villas or cottages, which may be erected at moderate expense, as lime and freestone are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood Offers in writing, for purchase by private bargain, will be received by the proprietor at Boghead, by Bathgate, or by Lyon and Blackadder, writers, Broughton Place, Edinburgh, The proprietor will direct a person to show the lands.

      Caledonian Mercury, 18th May 1816

  • References related to minerals
    • CONTRACTORS to form Branch Railway into the Estate of Boghead Bathgate for T Maxwell-Durham Esq. Plans &c may be seen with Johnstones & Rankine CE, 75 West Nile St Glasgow or with John Wright Union Bank Bathgate with the latter of whom offers must lodged not later than 16th February current.

      West Lothian Courier, 11th February 1882