With summer upon us we thought it would be fitting to have some recreational based objects as our first ‘Object of the Month’. Sport was a popular pastime for the miners, and would include golf, billiards, quoting, and also outdoor bowls. We have a number of sporting badges within our collection, and we have picked out two that perfectly combine the social and industrial aspects of the Shale Oil Industry.
The first badge is from Middleton Hall Bowling Club, c. 1964, and features a bowler mid shot in the foreground and three shale bings in the background. The bowling club is located in Uphall, Broxburn, where of course the Uphall Oil Works could be found. The Uphall Oil Works were formed in 1865, and the proprietors were a local landowner Peter McLaggan, Coalmaster George Simpson, and Edward Meldrum, a previous partner of James ‘Paraffin’ Young. The company evolved to the Uphall Mineral Oil Company Ltd in 1871, and then to the Uphall Oil Co Ltd in 1876, before being amalgamated with Young’s Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd in 1883, then ceasing operation in 1937.
The second badge is for Deans Bowling Club, Livingston Station, commemorating their Jubilee year. Again the design of the badge combines both the bowling motifs of bowls and a jack, whilst factory chimneys and a shale bing feature in the background. In 1883 the West Lothian Oil Co Ltd formed and constructed an oil works at Deans. It was not entirely successful and after a period of disuse the site and mineral leases were acquired by the Pumpherston Oil Company Ltd, who constructed new works and developed new mines. Deans works eventually closed in 1951.
The Deans Bowling Badge belonged to John Stein, who started in the shale industry as an Apprentice in 1910 with Young’s Paraffin Light & Mineral Oil Company Ltd. He moved up to Chief Surveyor, and then became a Mining Agent and General Mining Manager as Young’s amalgamated with other companies to become Scottish Oils Ltd.
Objects like these are a great addition to our collection as they give us information regarding the industrial workings of these areas, but also the social history as well, and so provide a valuable representation of the Shale Oil Industry as a whole. The bowling clubs they represent and the iconic images of the industry they feature, especially the shale bings, connect us to the present day, when these very bowling clubs are still in existence and the shale bings are a significant part of our everyday landscape.
You can see more examples of badges and recreational activities in our museum, and of course you can search our collections database on our website for more objects that may spark your interest: https://www.scottishshale.co.uk/