Scottish shale Scottish shale

Roman Camp - Cawburn Oil Works

Alternative names:
Drumshoreland Oil Works
Uphall, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Built c.1862
Demolished c.1868
Current status of site:


Redwood lists the oil works as "Broxburn - Roman Camps", and notes that it was operated by M'Lintock between 1861 and 1868, with 12 horizontal retorts; about 1865 became Fraser's property, and then consisted of 75 horizontal retorts and small refinery.

The Edinburgh Post Office Directory lists "Cawburn Shale Oil Works" as being operated by M'Lintock & Co. (1863-64 and 1864-65 editions), and by W. Fraser (1865-66, 1866-67 and 1867-68 editions). Valuation rolls record a similar pattern of ownership, but refer to the works at "Drumshoreland shale oil works".

The location of Cawburn Shale Oil Works is uncertain, Newspaper accounts (see snippets, below) note that minerals lay to the north of the Edinburgh - Bathgate railway, however most shales outcropped south of the railway. Mention of a railway siding is also confusing; the only siding in the vicinity shown on OS maps is that which served Roman Camp Shale Oil Works. The Cawburn Chemical Works shown on the 1895 OS is the bone meal works of William Rough & Co. See story - "The Bone Crushers of Broxburn"

  • Location map
  • Detailed maps
  • Newspaper references
    • Glasgow, October 20, 1863. THE Subscriber, WILLIAM M'LINTOCK, has retired from the Business of Manufacturing the Products of Oil Shale, and Working and Disposing of Oil Shale and Coal, carried on by the Subscribers at Glasgow and Drumshoreland, under the Firm of WILLIAM M'LINTOCK & CO., of which the Subscribers were sole Partners. The debts due by the Company will be paid by the Subscribers, Messrs Rankin & Low, who are authorised to collect the debts due to the Company, and by whom the Business will be continued under the Firm of The CAWBURN OIL COMPANY. WILLIAM M'LINTOCK, ALEXANDER LOW, JAMES RANKIN.

      Edinburgh Gazette, 23rd October 1863



      The SHALE OIL WORK, situated at DRUMSHORELAND, on the Estate of the Earl of Buchan, recently erected by Messrs McLintock & Co, is to be SOLD by PRIVATE BARGAIN, with Immediate Entry. The Work is situated on the side of the Edinburgh and Bathgate Railway, within a few hundred yards of the Broxburn Station, and a special siding is carried into the Work. The work consists of Four Retorts, In full working order; Steam Engine and all necessary Apparatus. The Shale, of which a Lease my be had from the Landlord on favourable terms, is wrought within a few feet of the Work, and is believed to extend, in large quantity, and of superior quality, throughout the Area which would be Leased. The Work will be shown to intending Offerers by JOHN HOWIE, the Manager; and further information will be afforded by Messrs LINDSAY, JAMIESON & HALDANE, 24 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh; or Messrs W., J.B., and J. KIDSON, 50 West Regent Street Glasgow.

      Scotsman, 20th February 1864



      That PORTION of the SHALE FIELD on the property of the Earl of Buchan, formerly possessed by Messrs McLintock & Co., and known as the "CAWBURN FIELD", will be LET for such period, and on such terms, as may be agreed on. This Part of the Field is situated on the North Side of the Edinburgh and Bathgate Railway in the immediate vicinity of the Broxburn Station. Along with One Lot will be SOLD or LET the WORKS erected by the late Tenants, into which there is a siding from the Railway.

      Scotsman, 18th January 1865


      In 1862, also, Mr. McLintock erected 12 horizontal retorts at Roman Camp. These became the property of Mr. William Fraser of Broxburn in 1865, who increased their number to 75, and also erected a small refinery.

      Primrose, "Strathbrock or The history and antiquities of the Parish of Uphall", 1898