Scottish shale Scottish shale

Polkemmet No.5 pit

Alternative names:
Cappers No.5 pit, Westfield pit
Bathgate, Linlithgowshire
Local authority:
West Lothian

A pit in the lands of Polkemmet that was worked for over fifty years, reaching the Armadale Ball coal at 9 fathoms, Armadale Main coal at 13 fathoms, Armadale Slatyband Ironstone at 26 fathoms. Sunk by the Shotts Oil Company in about 1860 as a ironstone pit, gas coal was later worked and under the ownership of James Wood & Co (from c.1872) seams of steam coal were worked.

The 1883 List of Mines records Polkemmet No.5 pit, owned by the Shotts Iron Co. Ltd. manager Robert Jamieson, working the Black Band Ironstone and gas coal by the longwall method, employing 10 on the surface and 23 underground. The upcast shaft was 5' x 5' and 162 ft deep. It was a non-fiery mine ventilated from No.3 stopped April 1883


BATHGATE- Fatal Pit Accident-On Thursday last , a miner named Alexander Bell, a young man residing Whitburn, was so seriously injured by the fall of the superincumbent strata of his working place in Pit No.5. (Capper's), belonging to the Shotts Iron Company, that he died few hours after he had been conveyed to his home. Dr Kirk was attendance when the unfortunate man was brought up the pit.

Stirling Observer, 15th August 1861


ARMADALE. Fall Down a Pit. On Thursday morning, a man named Wm. Stafford fell down the shaft of No. 5 Pit, Polkemmet, a depth of about 30 fathoms. Stafford had gone to the pit with the view of commencing work there for the first time, and from being unacquainted with the position of the shaft, had incautiously stepped into one. The underground manager, William Fraser, courageously slid down, and brought the unfortunate young man to the pithead. He was conveyed to his home, and Dr. Kirk, of Bathgate, who arrived shortly afterwards, found, on examination, that his right thigh and left arm were broken besides, other internal injuries had been sustained.

Falkirk Herald, 13th January 1872


A Man's Head and Arm Torn Off. —About six o'clock on Saturday morning, the dead body of engine-keeper, named James Wilson, belonging to Cappers, near Bathgate, was found lying beside the engine he was in charge of, in No. 5 Cappers Coal and Ironstone Pit. It appears that the engine is placed underground in the pit, and the steam is conveyed through pipes from a boiler the surface. Deceased, who was on the night shift, was seen about one o'clock some of his fellow workmen, and as the engine is only used pumping water during the night, he was not missed until the other engineman came to commence his work on the day shift in place of deceased. Wilson was then discovered lying near the engine, with one of his arms torn off and his head crushed and torn from his body. It is supposed that, as the oil "pourie" was found lying by his side, the deceased had been oiling the machinery while in motion, and had been caught by the pinion-wheels and dragged in. The unfortunate man leaves wife and a large family to mourn his loss

Falkirk Herald, 19th September 1872


Excitement at No. 5 Polkemmet Pit

Shortly after mid-day on Wednesday, considerable excitement was caused at No 5 pit Polkemmet, when one of the pinion wheels of the winding engine broke in two. How the men were to be got out of the pit was the first thing to be considered. The communication shaft, it appears, was not the handiest, so a hand crane was got ready, and a rope with a cross stick attached to the end was lowered, upon this a boy was put astride. while a man stood upon it with a hold of the rope. Some became very nervous, as the experience of ascending in this way presented a great amount of danger. By midnight, however, all the men and boys, numbering 137 were got out without further mishap.

West Lothian Courier, 21st September 1900



The air shaft of No. 5 Pit, Polkemmet, was found, on Tuesday morning, to have fallen in, preventing air from getting the coal working, and rendering those in the pit to thrown idle during the following two days which it took to clear away the debris. The air-pit situated fully 100. yards east of the main shaft, and, a largo portion the wall having tallen away, it closed up the bottom, preventing the free play of freeh air. Tho damage has been repaired, and men hope yet to secure two three days' work this week receiving their share of waggons.

Linlithgowshire Gazette, 30th April 1909


The taking out tho stoops No. 5 Pit. commonly called the Cappers, is now confined the top seam, which is not far from the surface, and the matter of other three four months should see them all out, when the pit, which has boon in operation, first as an ironstone and gas coal pit, and later a steam coal pit. for over 50 years, will be brought to a close. The pit was sunk for the Shotts Iron Company in about 1860. After the Shotts Company’s lease had expired the pits on the estate lying around Armadale Station were taken over Mr James Wood then of Bathville, from whom the United Collieries Company acquired them.

Linlithgowshire Gazette, 26th July 1912


NEW YEAR PROSPECTS.— No. 5 Pit, Polkemmet Colliery, came to a close with the year 1912. after being in constant operation for 65 years. This pit was sunk by the Shotts Iron and Coal Company, and was first ironstone pit rich in gas coal. After the Shotts lease was up. Mr Wood of Bathville took over and worked it as a coal pit, and for the last decade it has been owned the United Collieries Company, Ltd. Its closing only affects a dozen men. who will all be provided for at Northrigg Colliery. According to present arrangements, a mine will immediately started to open the field of coal lying west of No. 15 Pit. Armadale Colliery, and this, in conjunction with another field of coal that is being opened up at Northrigg Colliery, will engage large number of men.

Linlithgowshire Gazette, 3rd January 1913