Scottish shale Scottish shale

Hartwood Oil Works

West Calder, Midlothian
Local authority:
West Lothian
Andrew & Mrs. Walker
Built c.1871
Demolished c.1873
Current status of site:
Probable site returned to agriculture


A small and short-lived oil works, owned by the local landowner and probably using oil shale mined in the vicinity. Redwood lists a "Harthill Oilworks" operating in the Hartwood Estate, West Calder but seems to confuse this with information on Hartwoodhill Oil Works, to the north-west of Shotts.

A substantial bing of mine waste exists in the field north of Mid Hartwood, but no evidence of red blaes from an oil works. The present farmer indicated that a small brick structure existed on the bing until about 30 years ago, when demolished for road bottoming. The outline of the bing seems different from that plotted on early OS maps; a wooded mound (55.831596, -3.573645) shown on the 1906, and in 1950's aerial photographs, has been completely leveled and returned to grazing. This seems likely to represent the site of the oil works.

For further information see Hartwood shale mine and coal pit.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1906, showing established tree growth on the easternmost bing.

  • Rateable value by year
    • Date Rateable Value Owner Occupier Notes
      1871 £63 Andrew & Mrs Walker Andrew & Mrs Walker Works
      £93.3/- Andrew & Mrs Walker Andrew & Mrs Walker Shale
      1872 £63 Andrew & Mrs Walker Andrew & Mrs Walker Shale
      £82 Andrew & Mrs Walker Andrew & Mrs Walker Shale
      1873 £40 Andrew & Mrs Walker Andrew & Mrs Walker UNLET
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  • Newspaper references

      To LET, the SHALE and COAL in the Estate of HARTWOOD, situated in the Parish of West Calder, and the County of Edinburgh. The Field extends for about 500 Acres. The Shale comprises of the well-known West Calder Seams; and the Coal consists of Two Seams – the one the Houstoun Coal, five feet thick, and the other a Coal of good quality, and two feet six inches thick. Apply ANDREW WALKER Esq. Hartwood House, West Calder, and No.1 Richmond Street, Glasgow; or to ROBERTON & Ross, Writers, 176 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow.

      Scotsman, 29th October 1872


      OIL AND GAS SHALE AND COALFIELDTo LET, the VALUABLE SEAMS of SHALE and COAL in the ESTATE of HARTWOOD, extending to about 500Acres, and situate in the Parish of West-Calder and County of Edinburgh. There are Two Seams of Coal, the one 5 and the other 2 and a half feet in thickness. The Shale, as distilled in Vertical Retorts, has been found to produce from 33 to 40 Gallons per Ton of Oil of fine quality. Besides giving a large yield of Oil, the Shale may be advantageously employed in the Manufacture of Gas. The following is and Extract from a Report on the Analysis and Practical Assay by Dr. Wallace, F.R.S.E.,F.C.S., Gas Examiner for the City of Glasgow: - "The Gas is of very high quality, the illuminating power being equal to 41.53 Standard Candles." Apply ANDREW WALKER, Esq., Hartwood House, West Calder; or to Messrs. ROBERTON & ROSS, Writers, 176 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow.

      Scotsman, 24th February 1873