Scottish shale Scottish shale

Balgray Oil Works

Former parish and county:
Parish of Dreghorn, Ayrshire
Local authority:
North Ayrshire
Glengarnock Iron Co.
Seemingly closed in 1875
Current status of site:

One of a number of small oil works that utilised a seam of "parrot shale" or "shale coal" found in the Kilwinning area. Balgray oil works is not listed by Redwood in "A Practical Treatise on Mineral Oils", and it is possible that the site of the works were subsequently developed as Annick Lodge oil works.

The only known references to an oil works at Balgray are:

  1. Entries between 1870 and 1872 in the Glasgow Post Office Directory under Paraffin Oil Manufacturers for "Balgray Oil Works; office, 127 St. Vincent St."
  2. Sale notices published in August 1875, indicating that the works were equipped with 39 retorts.

The farms of West Balgray and East Balgray, lie immediately north of the presumed site of Annick Lodge Oil Works, but maps reveal no evidence of mineral working or any other clues as to where an oil works might have been located. Valuation rolls from 1875 record that the lands of Balgray and Standeep were owned by Robert Dunlop Allison of Balgray, but that "minerals (shale)" were held by Merry & Cunninghame, Coalmasters, although ascribed no rateable value.

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  • Newspaper references

      On Saturday evening last, William Paterson, aged 33 years, oil manager at Balgray Oil Work, Annicklodge, parish of Irvine, committed suicide by thinking a quantity of vitrol in a house used for making ammonia at said oil work, and belonging to the Glengarnock Iron Coy., from the effects of which he died at five o'clock the following morning. It appears that deceased had been very much addicted to drinking for some time past, and was very much under its influence when he committed.

      Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 29th January 1870



      There will be Sold, by Public Auction, the OILWORK at BALGRAY, near Annicklodge, on Thursday, 9th September, 1875, consisting of

      • 39 Cast-Iron Retorts,
      • 10 Condensers, 10 feet long by 4 feet;
      • 2 Separators, 10 Mains,
      • 3 Large Boilers for holding Oil (Malleable Iron),
      • 1 Boiler for Sulphates, Iron Force Pump (with Connections to Blaze Bing), Several Wood, Iron-Side, and End-Tip Boggles;
      • Two 49-Feet and Two 30-Feet Brick Stalks,
      • 1 Wooden House of a good size, Large Lot of Fire Clats, Cleaners, Teasers, Draw Bars and Furnace Bars;
      • Lot of Barrows, and Lot of Shovels (Square and Round); also, a Lot of Cast-Iron Pipes and Furnace Door Bars, with 2 Screws; 1 Long Length (30 feet) of 3-inch Vulcanised Rubber Steam Tube, in good order; also, 1 Vice Bench and Anvil,
      • and a great variety of other Articles, such as bricks, &c.

      The above will be put up in lots to suit Buyers. Annicklodge is three miles from Irvine Station and a Conveyance will start from the Station on the arrival of the 10.40 Train from Glasgow. Sale to commence at One o'clock. Terms-Cash at Sale. JOHN PARKER, Auctioneer.

      Glasgow Herald, Monday 30 August 1875