Scottish shale Scottish shale

Holmes Oil Works

Uphall, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Built c. 1884
Dismantled c.1901
Current status of site:
Waste ground; site of the works and "The Green Bing" excavated c.2000

A small-scale crude works - for the period in which it was established - equipped with two benches of retorts. The works were served by Holmes mine which worked shale in lands close to the works, north of the Edinburgh to Bathgate railway. The mine entrance however lay about a third of a mile to the south, near Roman Camp and the output was transported back to the works by a tramway crossing the Edinburgh-Bathgate line by a bridge. The crude oil produced at Holmes was initially refined by the Pumpherston Oil Company, but in later years the majority of output was processed by the Linlithgow Oil Company.

The company built housing for its workforce at Holmes Rows and Cottages.

  • Rateable value by year
    • Date Rateable Value Owner Occupier Notes
      1884 £350 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd Part year
      £375 Robert Bell Holmes Oil Company Ltd Shale
      1885 £1,753 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1886-92 £1,700 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1887 £2,347 Robert Bell, Holmes Oil Company Ltd Robert Bell, Holmes Oil Company Ltd Shale
      1893-94 £1,400 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1895-96 £1,300 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1897 £1,150 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1898 £1,050 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1899-1901 £900 Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd
      1901 -- Holmes Oil Company Ltd Holmes Oil Company Ltd In Liquidation
      Works Demolished
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  • Newspaper references

      Early yesterday morning a destructive fire broke out in the engine-house at Holmes Works, Broxburn, caused by the fall and.explosion of a naphtha lamp. The flames soon spread along the oil-saturated floor, caught the walls, and spread to the shalebreaker-house, completely destroying these buildings. The wooden scaffolding leading to the breaker from the mine was cut, as also the one leading to the retorts and tips. The engine and breaker were also destroyed by the fire. The works are at a complete standstill, throwing about 200 men out of employment. It is understood the damage is covered by insurance.

      Dundee Courier, 26th March 1896



      Work has been resumed at Holmes after a stoppage of about four months. The condition of the mines has been much improved, and the output of shale will be considerably increased as the result. Only one of the two benches of retorts has been started, but it is expected that the other will be working within a week or two.

      Scotsman, 31st March 1898


      SALE OF OIL WORK AND MINE PLANT AND MACHINERY At HOLMES OIL WORKS, near Uphall Station, N.B.R., TOMORROW (THURSDAY), at 11.30 A.M. SHIRLAW, ALLAN, & Co. have received instructions from the Trustees of the late ROBERT BELL, Esq., and the Liquidators of Holmes Oil Co. Ltd., in Liquidation, to SELL by AUCTION as follows: 2 Pairs Coupled Engines, 20 in. by 4ft., by Shearer & Pettigrew, and J & T Young; 7ft x 4ft. 6 Drivings and Haulage Engines with gear; 15ft Vent Fan with Engine; 9 Lancashire Steam boilers, 25ft to 30ft by 7 ft. 5 E.E. Steam Boilers, 29ft by 5ft with Mountings; 2 benches of Shale Retorts with Condensing Plant; Set Shale Breakers, 2 Baker's Patent Gas Exhausters, No.3 and No.25; 4 M.I. Stock Tanks 16ft by 12 ft and 25ft by 14ft; 2 M.I. Scrubbers, 30 ft by 7ft; 4 C.I. Ammonia Stills, 16ft by 5 ft; Lead-Lined Tanks and Stills, 6 Donkey Pumps, Steel Bogies, about 70 Ton Railway and F.B. Rails and connections. C.I. Plates, Chain, 2 screw-cutting Lathes 4in and 9 in centres; 2 Vert. Boring Machines, 1.5 and 2 in Spindles. Shaping Machine, Pipe-Screwing Machine, Iron Circular Saw bench, 3 H.P. 100Volt Dynamo, 2 Arc Lamps, Shafting and Pulleys, Cart, Hutch and Platform Weighing Machines, Smithy Iron and Tools, M and C.I. Scrap, 45cwt Old Lead and Brass, Office Furniture and Safes &c. Also Building Material of Workshops, Stores, Offices, retorts, boiler and Engine Seats, Engine Houses, Chimney Stalks, Gangways, &c. train from Glasgow (Queen Street L.L.) at 9.27 A.M. And from Edinburgh (Waverley) at 10.55 A.M. Catalogues from Auctioneers, Hamilton, October 1901.

      Scotsman, 2nd October 1901