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Visit to Almond Valley Heritage Trust: Tuesday 26 April 2016

Robin Chesters (left) and local author Harry Knox, who has written the definitive history of the shale-oil industry.d

Robin Chesters (left) and local author Harry Knox, who has written the definitive history of the shale-oil industry.

© John Yellowlees 2016

Ths Scottish Region visited the Almond Valley Heritage Trust at Millfield in West Lothian on Tuesday 26 April 2016.

The Museum commemorates the shale-oil industry that came to dominate West Lothian's economy and landscape until closure in 1962, with a narrow-gauge railway offering rides along the riverbank.

The working watermill and machinery shed provide an insight into West Lothian's rural past, while the buildings and paddocks of Mill Farm are home to many friendly animals.

Previously a community farm, the site was taken over in 1990 by a Trust and offers a museum of the shale oil industry, barns of farm animals with an eighteenth-century mill and play facilities for a willing audience of families and young children to whom the museum seeks to promote learning and awareness of West Lothian's heritage, notably the shale-oil industry that closed in 1962.

The collection is regarded as being of national significance since Almond Valley Heritage is the custodian of shale oil company records which it looks after on behalf of their owner BP, and most research effort is on-line through the Scottish Shale website which is becoming more coherent, offering information on mines and their railways to anyone with an interest.

The Almond Valley Light Railway.d

The Almond Valley Light Railway.

© John Yellowlees 2016

An online stockbook documents the collection of the Almond Valley Light Railway, a 2'6" gauge line three-quarters of a mile long built in 1993 from Livingston Mill following the river through attractive farmland to Almondhaugh Halt.

There is planning consent for a doubling in length to a former shaleworks which uses coaches built on frames of wagons from the explosives industry with the track having come from RNAD Broughton Moor in Cumbria.

The Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. Ltd. locomotive.d

The Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. Ltd. locomotive.

© John Yellowlees 2016

A standard-gauge Scottish Oils tank wagon was presented by the Railway Heritage Committee. Almond Valley Heritage has 25-30 full time equivalent staff with up to 50 working there at the height of the season, and receives about 135,000 visitors a year making it one of Scotland's most popular museums, appealing to a broad audience with some volunteers working on the farm. As a result of local authority cutbacks, it is now assuming some museum functions on behalf of West Lothian Council.

The Scottish Region thanks AVH director Dr Robin Chesters for his hospitality and David Scotney for driving the locomotive that hauled their train.

For further information on the Almond Valley Heritage Trust visit their website at:


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