Already there are three extensive oil works are in existence here (Broxburn), the largest one belonging to Messrs Faulds. The shale is found in great abundance and at no great depth.
The Scotsman, 11th June 1862
BROXBURN. - THE SHALE -OIL TRADE.
About two years ago shale containing oil was found on the estate of the Earl of Buchan; and now, within a radius of one mile from the village, there are four separate work in active operation manufacturing oil form shale, and a fifth in course of erection by an opulent English firm promises to be one of the largest in the trade. The oil-shale is found very abundantly in the district, and the explored beds are considered sufficient to last for many years. It is of very easy access, being in some instances got by open casting; and the seams are generally from three to six feet thick, but they vary much both in thickness and quality. Fossil oyster and other shells are found in some of the seams in a very perfect state. The greater part of the oil has been sold in a crude state; but Fraser & Meikle, who have erected their works within the last three months, are now refining and disposing of burning oil of a very superior quality; and other manufacturers are preparing to refine also, so that in a short time it will all be ready for use before passing into other hands.
The Scotsman, 28th November 1863
Mr. Robert Bell, who, in 1859, leased the minerals in the Broxburn district for the purpose of working coal and ironstone. He shortly afterwards found large supplies of rich shale in the ground, capable of yielding 30 gallons of crude oil per ton, and this led him in 1861 to make arrangements with Mr. Faulds of Glasgow to supply him with a daily quantity of shale. Mr. Faulds, in company with some others, erected a small work in 1862, just north of Canal-Bridge No. 28, and set up 36 horizontal retorts, but they abandoned the works shortly afterwards because the price of crude oil fell below a shilling per gallon. Mr. Fernie then took up the works in 1864, added 32 vertical retorts, and abandoned them in 1866; they were restarted, however, shortly after by a firm known as the " Glasgow Oil Company.In 1862, likewise, Mr. John Poynter erected crude-oil retorts on the south side of the canal, close to Greendykes Road, while Messrs. Miller and Steele erected small works at Broxburn on the north side of the canal, where the present gasworks stand. In 1863 Mr. Robert Bell erected 100 horizontal retorts about midway between Old Stewartfield farm and the canal, and in the year 1865, 100 horizontal retorts at Hayscraigs. In 1869 Mr. James Liddell erected a crude oil work of 40 horizontal oval retorts. These works — the last of the minor enterprises — stood close to the north side of the canal about 100 yards west of Greendykes Road. A small refinery was put up in 1863-64, and worked for several years by Mr. Thomas Hutcheson, at the west side of Greendykes Road, where the Broxburn Oil Company's workshops are situated, opposite the present gasworks."
Primrose, Strathbrock or The history and antiquities of the Parish of Uphall, 1898
The Broxburn shales on the estate of the Earl of Buchan are leased by Mr. Bell, who is most energetic in developing the mineral resources of that estate. About 1860, retorts were erected by Dr. Steel of Wishaw, at Broxburn, to distill oil from shale supplied by Mr. Bell. Early in 1862, the Broxburn Shale Oil Company (Limited) was formed, which after expending a large sum of money, was wound up in about two years. The whole plant was sold, and Mr. Fernie, of the Saltney Oil Works, succeeded the company in the occupation of the ground. After erecting upwards of 200 retorts, he sold his work to a company called the Glasgow Shale Oil Company (Limited). This company, as well as Mr. Poynter at his works in Broxburn, are now producing large quantities of oil from shale supplied by Mr. Bell. In addition to these works, Mr. Bell has erected a large number of retorts; and Mr Hutchison has a small refinery at Broxburn. It will this be seen that Broxburn is one of the most important seats of the oil trade. From "Supplementary notes on the Mineral Oil Trade".
The Scotsman, 8th February 1869
In this year (1862) Bell sublet a proportion of his shale fields to Fauld, under the condition that a stipulated quantity of shale be retorted per annum, and failing that the work was to be abandoned. Fauld built a work just North of Broxburn village, and set up thirty six horizontal and thirty two vertical retorts, but in a year or two found his inability to comply with the terms of the lease and had to confiscate the work to Bell, who about 1865 let it to Steel, together with a lease of the shale fields, under the same conditions as Faulds had it. Steel found his level with Fauld after a very few month's practical work, and therefore the Broxburn Oil Works (under which name the work had gone) again reverted to Bell, who then carried on the crude oil business himself, until he eventually disposed of the work and shale fields to what turned out to be one of the most successful of the Scotch oil companies, namely, the Broxburn Oil Company Company, Limited.
I.I. Redwood, Mineral Oils and their by-products, 1897