Scottish shale Scottish shale

Livingston quarries

Bathgate, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Seams worked:
Under Dunnet Shale, Mid Dunnet Shale
Current status of site:
Ground restored to agriculture, flooded workings now form pools on the River Almond


Open cast

Serving Westwood Crude Oil Works

Labour shortages during and immediately after World War Two encouraged Scottish Oils to investigate sites where shale could be worked by open-cast methods. Workings at Livingston (on the Livingston Mill and Charlesfield estates) were the largest and longest lived of these oil shale quarries.

Contractors Whatlings Ltd were appointed to strip the soil and overburden by dragline and bulldozer to expose an 18ft thickness of shale, which was then worked by drilling and blasting with gelignite. The broken shale was loaded by face-shovel into a fleet of six, six-wheeled trucks and transported two and a half miles to Westwood crude oil works. Average production during this phase of work was about 3,000 tons per week and 26 persons were employed in these works.

The Middle-Dunnet shale was worked in two quarries, separated by an area where shale was found to be missing, having been eroded away by a pre-glacial course of the River Almond. In both quarries, the course of the River Almond was temporarily diverted to allow working of the shale, leaving a succession of pools through which the river now flows.

The Middle-Dunnet was worked out by 1950 having produced a total of 575,000 tons of shale, however an area of Under Dunnet shale to the north was then worked until 1957.

Shale-field: Breich shale-field.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1897, showing the general location of the quarries.

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