The pioneering industry that shaped West Lothian, and changed the world.

James "Paraffin" Young's Bathgate works were perhaps the first in the world to produce refined mineral oils on a commercial scale. From this pioneering enterprise extended an oil industry, centred in West Lothian, that successfully competed against cheaper imported petroleum for almost a century. This fierce competition bred innovation, resilience, and a body of Scots know-how that contributed greatly towards the development of oil industries throughout the world.

This website is being developed to celebrate, exchange knowledge, and encourage research into this special heritage. Many of these on-line resources are associated with on our museum collection, which is recognised as being of national importance to Scotland.


A guide to this website, the re-use of content, details of our museum, and links to further resources.


Biographies, employment records, and other useful resources family history research.


A gazetteer of works, mines, villages, and other locations associated with the shale oil industry.


Articles and discussions about the shale oil industry and associated local histories.


A directory of shale oil companies, and associated organisations.


An illustrated catalogue of our museum collection, archives, and associated resources.

The Museum of the Scottish Shale Oil Industry is part of Almond Valley Heritage Centre. For information about opening hours and admission prices; visit

West Lothian Stories - from the shalefield, and the wider county.

Whitburn Cycle Parade

Whitburn's finest dress up and act silly.

Carved in Shale

The art of objects carved from shale

The Detergent Girls

The pioneering ladies of Pumpherston

Breich's Own Sistine Chapel

Wonderous art revealed in a colliery shed

A Wander around Calder Hall

Discovering early shale mines and quarries

The Lost Township

The forgotten history of Whitelachlens

Camilty Bridge

The strange tale of a road to nowhere

Little Vantage

An old inn beside the Lang Whang

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