Scottish shale Scottish shale

Hillend coal pit

Ecclesmachan, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Seams worked:
Houston Coal
Current status of site:
Waste heaps survive within woodland areas
Regional overview:


Vertical shaft

Serving Uphall Oil Works or Hopetoun Oil Works

A pit, or a number of pits, working the Houston Coal and established prior to the shale oil period. Notes associated with "shale seams" sketch (see Drawings) suggest that the pit was worked for a period by the Uphall Mineral Oil Company, later the Uphall Mineral Oil Company Ltd, presumably to fuel their Uphall Oil Works (opened c.1866) or their Hopetoun Oil Works (opened c.1872).

The first edition OS map (c.1856) shows a building - presumably an engine-house - adjacent to a shaft and a refuse heap. An "old shaft" close to a weighing machine is shown on the approach road to the site from the public Faucheldean to Ochiltree road. The second edition OS map (c.1897) shows no trace of the pit building shown on the earlier survey, although the outline of the refuse tip had been incorporated in the field boundary, and this area had become established as woodland by the time of the 1916 survey.

The second edition (c.1897) was the earliest to show a second area of disturbed ground, presumably a mine waste tip, (at 55.954950, -3.491521) , about 150m. east of the shaft shown on the 1856 plan. This suggests a new shaft may have been sunk close to this location, most likely that operated for a period by the Uphall Oil Company Ltd. BGS plan LSP 67R (see Drawings, below) marks a "pit" at this location.

Shale-field: Ecclesmachan district.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1855 appears to show the pit in operation.

  • Location & workings at Hillend coal pit
    • Show seams:

  • Detailed maps
  • Drawings

    Recent images

  • Newspaper references
    • "At Hillend pit........The roof of the seam is generally weak, and the coal is so full of pyrites and ribs of stone as to be unprofitable for mining purposes except during times of scarcity and high prices."

      British Geological Survey, Oil Shales of the Lothians, First Edition 1906

  • External references
      • Coal Authority Mine Abandonment Catalogue No.169, showing workings in the Houston Coal from Hopetoun, abandoned in 1874.
      • National Archives of Scotland, RHP6834 - Plan of Hillend Pit Workings of Hopetoun Colliery, 1857.