Scottish shale Scottish shale

Mines in the Cobbinshaw area

The West Calder Oil Company Ltd acquired the mineral rights of the Cobbinshaw shale-field during the late 1860's, and c.1870 sub-let rights of the north-east part of the field to the South Cobbinshaw Oil Company (a partnership of Jonathan Hyslop, Hugh Rose and James Falshaw) who mined shale to supply Cobbinshaw South Oil Works. A brickworks were also established and workers housing was constructed nearby in a new South Cobbinshaw village. Although the West Calder Oil Company Ltd prospectus of 1872 described their plans to develop mines at Cobbinshaw, these are not known to have been progressed. Following failure of the West Calder Oil Company Ltd in 1878, the Cobbinshaw mineral rights were purchased by Young's Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd, who worked Fells Shale between 1883 and 1885 at Cobbinshaw South No. 28 mine. Young's presumably transported shale a significant distance by rail to their Addiewell Chemical Works.

Following a period of disuse, the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd re-opened Cobbinshaw South No. 28 mine, renaming it Cobbinshaw No. 5 mine. A narrow gauge tramway was constructed across Cobbinshaw moss to convey shale to their Tarbrax Oil Works. No. 5 mine closed following the collapse of the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd in 1903, but was reopened by the Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd in 1912.

The Tarbrax Oil Company Ltd had earlier sunk (c.1906), Cobbinshaw No. 1 & 2 pits on the site of exploratory workings previously abandoned by the Caledonian Mineral Oil Company Ltd, and lying close to the narrow gauge tramway linking No. 5 to Tarbrax Oil Works. A further new mine, Cobbinshaw South No. 3, was opened by the Tarbrax company in 1907 to exploit Fraser Shale. This mine was linked to Cobbinshaw No. 1 & 2 by a further narrow-gauge tramway.

  • Geological maps