The History of a Shale Oil Village
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Back cover text:
Pumpherston - surely one of the strangest place-names in Lowland Scotland - has a history that is as unusual as its name. The ancient castle and lands of Pumpherston evolved into a fertile estate with an experimental farm, and those in turn gave way to one of the world's most successful early oil companies. The Pumpherston story includes a huntsman eaten by his own hounds, a bankrupt MP and a golf course enlivened by cows - and cow-pats. In 1884 the Pumpherston Oil Works was built and a substantial village came into being. The Pumpherston Oil Company is seen in the wider context of the shale oil industry. The story of its successes and failures is followed through the era of Scottish Oils and BP to the close-down of the shale oil industry in Scotland in 1962. The village was built, supervised and patronised by the oil companies. A strange culture emerged in which the employers intervened in all aspects of their employees' lives, whether at work, at home or at leisure. This book also looks at the rich social life that grew up in the village, and the wealth of characters - high achievers as well as eccentric worthies - that will stir the memories of everyone who grew up in or remembers Pumpherston in the old days. The story of Pumpherston comes full circle with the cleaning up of the oil works site. BP has used pioneering technology to clear the site of the pollution from more than a century of work, and to return the area to its original rural nature. A mix of historical, technical and anecdotal material makes up a book that should appeal to readers not just in the local area, but to "Pumphy" exiles all over the world and to anyone interested in the shale oil industry and Scotland's industrial heritage.