Scottish shale Scottish shale

Pathhead Oil Works

Former parish and county:
Parish of New Cumnock, Ayrshire
Local authority:
South Ayrshire
Presumably constructed c.1867
Presumably after c. 1876, although marked on the 1896 OS map
Current status of site:
Agriculture, rough grazing


Redwood lists that Pathhead Oil Works was located in Fife and active between 1867 and 1876. This might have referred to Pathhead, just east of Kirkcaldy, an area with many port-linked industries including a whale oil refinery. It seems more likely however that Redwood's notes were incorrectly transcribed and should related to Pathhead, near New Cumnock, Ayrshire.

A disused oil works is clearly shown on the 1896 Ordnance Survey map. In 1903 the nearby Pathhead colliery was operated by J. Gray & Co.

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  • Newspaper references
    • All along the route form Kilmarnock to New Cumnock search has been made with considerable success, and at the latter mentioned place an oil work has been erected by Messrs. Brown & Co. for the distillation of the Ayrshire shale into its numerous compounds.

      Scotsman, 1866


      At Pathhead Colliery an oil-shale was worked, which may possibly represent the position of one of the Lanemark Gas Coals, although there is no evidence to establish an exact correlation.

      The Coalfields of Scotland, Robert W. Dron, Blackie & Son 1902


      Two gas coals are also known near Pathhead, on the northern margin of the basin, at horizons below the three already considered. The higher was in one place about 6ft. thick, and is said to have consisted almost entirely of cannel. This seam was at one time treated at the Pathhead oil-works, but little information has been obtained about it, either as regards extent or quality.

      Memoirs of the Geological Survey in Scotland Vol XXIV Cannel Coals, Lignite and Mineral Oil in Scotland by W. Gibson, 1922