Scottish shale Scottish shale

Magdalene Oil Works

Alternative names:
Magdalene Chemical Works
Former parish and county:
Parish of Duddingston, Edinburghshire
Local authority:
City of Edinburgh
Straiton Estate Company Ltd
Apparently constructed c.1858
Unlabelled buildings shown on 1896 OS map, mostly cleared by the 1907 edition
Current status of site:
Cash and carry warehouse


Redwood lists "Taylor's Oil Works", proprietors Taylor & Company, Leith, active between 1864 and 1871, and notes "Distilled Straiton shale".

William Taylor & Company were long established soap and candle manufacturers with premises in Salamander St. Leith, who also had interests in Forthbank Works, Magdalen Chemical Works and Straiton Oil Works. The Straiton Estate Company was established in 1876 to purchase William Taylor's interest in Straiton Oil Works and Magdalene Chemical Works.

The 1871 census lists William Young, aged 31, of Magdalene Bridge, Midlothian as Manager of a Paraffin Oil Work employing 28 men.

The 1880 sale notice in the Scotsman suggest that Magdelen Works served as a refinery and processed crude oil produced at Straiton.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1896.

  • Rateable value by year
    • Date Rateable Value Owner Occupier Notes
      1859-60 £160 Anderson & John Astly William Muir
      1861 No R/V Mathieson John Mathieson John Unlet
      1862-63 £100 William Laird, Iron Merchant Robert Irvine
      1864-65 £100 John Cowen Robert Irvine
      1866-68 £120 Brash Peter & Dick James William Taylor & Company
      1869 £150 Brash Peter & Dick James William Taylor & Company
      1870 £150 William Taylor & Company William Taylor & Company
      1871 £180 William Taylor & Company William Taylor & Company
      1872-76 £238 William Taylor & Company William Taylor & Company
      1877-78 £238 Straiton Estate Company Straiton Estate Company
      1879 £272 Straiton Estate Company Straiton Estate Company
      1875 records include the Chemical Works, a Manager's house and five workmen's houses
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  • Newspaper references
    • THE Proprietors of a Mineral Oil work are desirous of securing the services of an Experienced FOREMAN to superintend the Work. Applicant must possess a thorough practical knowledge of such an establishment, and be able to distill and refine the products of Boghead Coal. Apply by letter to Mr. Robert Irvine, Magdalene Chemical Works, Musselburgh.

      Glasgow Herald, 19th April 1865


      MUSSELBURGH TOWN COUNCIL. The ordinary monthly meeting of Musselburgh Town Council was held last night—Bailie Keir presiding. The treasurer intimated that the action against the Straiton Estate Company had been settled. The monthly statement of income and expenditure showed the income to be £123, and the expenditure £145, making excess expenditure over income of £21. A letter from Mr Meek regarding the alleged nuisance at his works, was read. Meek denied the allegation, and stated that no part his works was used as a skinnery. The inspector reported that he had examined the premises, and found that they were merely used wool store, and the subject was allowed to drop.

      Edinburgh Evening News, 15th October 1878


      At MAGDELEN BRIDGE, near MUSSELBURGH, On THURSDAY the 9th DECEMBER, at Half-past Twelve o'clock, OIL REFINERY PLANT, MACHINERY &c. being the Surplus Stock of the Straiton Oil Company (Limited), who have removed their Refinery to Straiton, comprising Three Cast-Iron Stills of 800 and 1000 gallon capacity, Two D Boilers 25ft x 5 ft and 20ft x 6 ft; Four egg-end boilers, 14ft x 3 ft, 13 ft x 3 ft 6 in. 21ft x 6ft, 12ft. X 4ft. Two 7 and 8 inch Rams; Two Hydraulic Pumps, Screw Press, Two Cast-Iron Tanks, Two Malleable-Iron Tanks, 20ft x 16ft and 14 ft x 4ft; Two Portable Fire Extinguishers, Cast-Iron Pipes, Beams and Columns; upwards of 120ft. Shafting, Wooden Vats and Tubs, Scrap Iron, Brickwork of Stills, Old Wood, Carboys, Lorry to carry 3 tons, &c. Catalogues ready, and will be forwarded on application.

      Scotsman, 1st December 1880


      VALUABLE AND EXTENSIVE SOAP, STEARINE AND CANDLE BUSINESS FOR SALE. TO BE SOLD by Private Treaty, the Old-Established BUSINESS of WILLIAM TAYLOR & COMPANY, Soap Stearine and Candle Manufacturers, Salamander Street, Leith with the Whole MACHINERY for the Manufacture of PARAFFIN, COMPOSITE, and other CANDLES, including apparatus for the DISTILLATION and PURIFICATION of PARAFFIN SCALE, and also the TENANT'S PORTION of the UTENSILS, MACHINERY &c. for the Manufacture of Soap.

      Scotsman, 11th July 1883