Scottish shale Scottish shale

Cobbinshaw No.1 & 2 mines

West Calder, Midlothian
Local authority:
West Lothian
Seams worked:
Fells Shale
Current status of site:
Rough grazing and moorland; substantial remains of building foundations survive
Regional overview:


Vertical shaft, 420ft / 64 fathoms deep (No. 1 Pit), 58 fathoms deep (No. 2 Pit)

Serving Tarbrax Oil Works

A substantial pit, the first vertical shaft in the UK to be equipped with electrical winding gear. The Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd began sinking No. 1 in c.1895, but abandoned construction. These abandoned structures were confusingly labelled "oil works (disused)" on the1896 OS map. The Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd resumed development of the pit c.1905.

Fells Shale workings from this pit were ultimately linked to those of Viewfield No. 5 by a roadway through the old workings of Tarbrax No. 2 Pit.

Shale-field: Cobbinshaw shale-field.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1896, presumably showing the abandoned workings for No. 1 shaft.

  • Location & workings at Cobbinshaw No.1 & 2 mines
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  • Drawing & plans

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  • Newspaper references
    • OFFERS wanted to sink a Pit 17ft 6 in by 6ft at Tarbrax. For further particulars apply to the manager at Works. Offers to be lodged at Tarbrax Works, Cobbinshaw, not later than 1st September 1904.

      Scotsman, 20th August 1904


      Owing to a fault met with in No.1 pit Cobbinshaw, development was delayed and not yet equal to the requirements of the works...

      Scotsman, 30th May 1906


      The temporary steam winding plant has been put into use at No.1 Pit, Cobbinshaw, and the electrical gear is being transferred to No.5 pit, Viewfield (July 1923). No.1 pit Cobbinshaw (which will be abandoned when Viewfield pit is in complete working order) is to substitute temporary steam winding plant so that the electric winding gear can be removed to Viewfield. The underground work at No.1 pit Cobbinshaw in connection with the opening of communication with the old No.2 pit at Tarbrax has made fair progress, considering the difficulties of driving through the old workings that had badly fallen in places (April 1923). The transfer of output from No.1 pit Cobbinshaw to Viewfield Pit is proceeding, and there now remain only ten stooping places to be dealt with, which will probably be accommodated by the end of March, the underground haulage for this purpose being now in course of erection (February 1924). The whole output from No.1 is now being handled at Viewfield pit and good progress has been made with works etc. on the surface (March 1924).

      Scottish Oils Ltd, Managing Director's Monthly Report to the Board. (BP Archive No. 215662)


      ...1904, when the first electric winding gear in Scotland was installed at No. 1 pit Cobbinshaw, Tarbrax. The plant was designed on the Ilgner System, which has a balancing set supplying current to a 200-h.p. motor directly coupled to the drum shaft. Owing to the stoppage of the Tarbrax field this plant in now out of existence.

      Sneddon, Caldwell and Stein, Seventy Five Years of Oil Shale Mining, Institute of Petroleum, 1938

  • External references
    • Coal Authority Mine Abandonment Catalogue No. 8601, showing workings in the Fells Shale from Tarbrax or Viewfield No. 5 and Cobbinshaw No. 1 and 2, abandoned in 1926.

  • Related file records