Scottish shale Scottish shale

Ochiltree Colliery - south

Linlithgow, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian
Seams worked:
Houston Coal
Current status of site:
Site returned to agriculture, leaving no significant surface remains


Vertical shaft to the Houstoun coal

Serving Champfleurie Oil Works

At the first AGM of the Linlithgow Oil Company, held in August 1885, it was announced;

"They had now a colliery on the Ochiltree property, from which they expected to be able to supply the present necessities of the works in the way of fuel. That was a very exception thing regarding an oil work; but he was glad to be able to say that they were able to get coal, which meant a very considerable saving to them."

This colliery at Ochiltree lay on the southern face of a considerable ridge running east to west, along the top of which ran the Ochiltree road. The oil works lay three quarters of a mile to the north, on the north face of the ridge. Coal therefore had to be hauled up the south face of the ridge, climbing about 50 ft, before crossing the Ochiltree road, and then dropping about 120ft to the works.

A manuscript report in the BP collection indicates that a hutch road (tramway) was installed to link the coal mine to the oil works, but this was only ever intended to be a temporary facility. The horse-drawn hutch road climbed the ridge, crossed the Ochiltree road on the level, and followed the verge of Ochiltree to Bridgend road as far as the brick works. From here the hutches descended by a gravity-worked incline to the works. The crossing of the public road was agreed with the Linlithgowshire Road Trustees;

"The state of the Auldhill road from Bridgend to Ochiltree was considered; also a communication from the Linlithgow Oil Company, offering to make a hutch road from their coal works along side the present road." (The Scotsman, 6th February 1886)
"It was reported that an arrangement had been made with the Linlithgow Oil Company in regards to their level crossings and hutch road." (The Scotsman, 10th April 1886)

With the high cost of transport by temporary hutch road, it soon proved cheaper to buy-in coal supplies, and the Ochiltree colliery was closed in 1888. The manuscript report (probably written in the late 1890's) indicates that the Road Trustees had refused to allow a level crossing of the Ochiltree road by a more efficient permanent tramway or haulage, insisting that a bridge be constructed to carry the tramway beneath the road. The oil company considered this did not warrant the investment. In about 1900, the oil company drove a new mine (termed here "Ochiltree colliery - north" ) which linked to the workings of the earlier colliery.

Mapped by the Ordnance Survey of c.1897, showing southern colliery site.

  • Location & workings at Ochiltree Collieries (North and South coal mines)
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  • Newspaper references
    • the foot of Binny Craig themself, a long disused coal-pit, of which the chimney still remains, on the farm of Little Ochiltree. The pit was long worked by the Linlithgow Oil Company for steam coal, till competition produced better coal at a lower price elsewhere.

      Linlithgowshire Gazette, 18th April 1902


      On the west side of the basin, a little to the west of Little Ochiltree, the Linlithgow Oil Company drove two mines into this coal and used it for furnace and retort purposes.

      Oil Shales of the Lothians; British Geological Survey, 1906