Scottish shale Scottish shale

Cobbinshaw No.5 mine

West Calder, Midlothian
Local authority:
West Lothian
Seams worked:
Fells Shale
1890-1903 (as Cobbinshaw South) 1912-1926 (as Cobbinshaw No.5)
Current status of site:
Moorland; collapsed entrance to adit, and some building foundations survive
Regional overview:


Inclined adit at a gradient of about 1 in 12

Serving Tarbrax Oil Works

Cobbinshaw Mine was established on the site of Cobbinshaw South No. 28 Mine, which was operated between 1883 and 1885 by Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd.

As part of their acquisition and re-development of the Tarbrax Oil Works, the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd developed their "Cobbinshaw Mine" in 1890 to exploit the seam of Fells Shale that dipped gradually towards Cobbinshaw Loch. Shale from the mine was conveyed to Tarbrax Oil Works on a 2 ft 6 inch gauge railway, built on a perfectly straight course across the moorland.

Following failure of the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd in 1903, all mineral assets were purchased by the Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd. The Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd chose not to immediately re-open Cobbinshaw Mine, and instead concentrated efforts on sinking Cobbinshaw No. 1 & 2 Pits on a site half way along the narrow gauge railway between Cobbinshaw Mine and Tarbrax. The company later re-opened Cobbinshaw Mine as Cobbinshaw No. 5. Mining continued until the closure of Tarbrax Oil Works in 1926, by which time workings extended almost to the northern shore of Cobbinshaw Loch.

Shale-field: Cobbinshaw shale-field.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1897, showing mine as operated by Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd.

  • Location & workings at Cobbinshaw No.5 mine
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  • Drawings

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  • Newspaper references
    • The Directors last year decided to re-open No.5 mine on South Cobbinshaw Estate, which had been sunk in the Fells shale and previously worked by a former company. The work of unwatering and repairing this mine has been vigorously prosecuted during the year, and is now well advanced towards completion. The mine is to be equipped with electrical pumping and haulage machinery, and the fitting up of this plant is at present in progress.

      Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd AGM reported in The Scotsman, 18th May 1912


      At present the output is being drawn at No.5 Mine, Cobbinshaw, and No.5 pit, Viewfield, and estimates have been made as to the effects on costs and yields of various moves, such as closing one or other of these openings. As none of these offer any real improvement, we are keeping both the pit and mine open and concentrating on those portions of the workings where we can get shale of the best quality at the lowest cost (September 1924).

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

  • External references
      • Coal Authority Mine Abandonment Catalogue No. S5120, showing workings in the Fells Shale from Cobbinshaw/Woolfords/Tarbrax, abandoned in 1900.
      • Coal Authority Mine Abandonment Catalogue No. 4422, showing workings in the Fells Shale from Cobbinshaw South, abandoned in 1903.
      • Coal Authority Mine Abandonment Catalogue No. 8600, showing workings in the Fells Shale from Cobbinshaw No. 5, abandoned in 1926.