Edinburgh’s Oil


I’m sure a lot of people know this… but I didn’t, and I’m finding it fascinating. I have been driving through Straiton (just south of Edinburgh) fairly regularly for the last six years or so, past Sainsbury and the new park-and-ride. I’ve often wondered why the derelict pub, the Callyr Inn, was left standing when they revamped the road system. It seemed to be right in the way of the road line, a problem that could have been easily solved using a carefully-aimed bulldozer. I still don’t know why the pub was left standing – though from what I now know about it, it could be a listed building. If it is, then whoever owns it is simply letting it rot.

What I didn’t know was that the building has an interesting history. 150 years ago it was the head office of the Straiton Oil Company, one of the firms that supplied oil derived from oil shale mined from beneath the surrounding land. In those days the shale was the main source of oil for lamps, paraffin and paraffin wax, and lubricating oil. At around the same time, crude oil was starting to be produced from deep wells in the USA, so the days of the oil shale industry were already numbered.

For more information see the excellent page here. The Park and Ride is now just north of Meadow Bank Cottages shown on the maps. For the site on the opposite side of the road (now that tatty retail site with Homebase and Halfords), see here. Note the mine shafts. I am familiar with the massive oil shale bings (waste tips) west of Edinburgh, but I didn’t realise the industry was so widespread. (UNFORTUNATELY MOST OF THESE LINKS ARE NOW DEAD)

If you want to see inside the building, see this. Sad.

Less than a mile away is my favourite sign. I thought it stood above old limestone mines. Now I know why it is there.

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