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Museums Galleries Scotland have announced that a museum collection which tells the story of the Scottish shale oil industry has been unveiled as the 37th Recognised Collection of National Significance.
Ever wondered what those bright red hills are that you see when travelling through West Lothian? These ‘shale bings’ are souvenirs of a period when Scotland was one of the first major oil-producing nations of the world. The shale oil industry marked a significant period of innovation in Scotland’s history. The industry also had a profound impact on people’s lives at the time as it helped to bring affordable lighting to all of Scotland’s households.
The world’s first oil tycoon James ‘Paraffin’ Young pioneered the exploitation of West Lothian’s oil shale deposits. In 1862 the distillation plants began production and by the 1900s nearly 2 million tons of shale was being extracted annually, employing 4,000 men. The final Scottish shale oil works closed in 1962, just a few years before the dawn of a new age of Scottish oil from the North Sea.
The 37th Recognised Collection can be seen at Almond Valley Heritage Centre in Livingston. It is unique with 2,500 objects that allow visitors to explore the Scottish shale oil industry. The wonderfully varied items in the collection can range in size from tiny microscope slides to large items of industrial machinery. The charming display of ornate vintage oil lamps and bottles of intriguingly assorted shades of shale oil offer unexpected flashes of colour throughout the museum.
To mark the announcement Minister for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, paid a visit to the Recognised Collection.
Minister for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, said:
“The shale oil industry had an enormous impact on Scotland and on the lives of people all over the world. Shale oil is an important part of our industrial heritage, so it is right that the Collection has been Recognised as being of national significance.
“This is exactly why the Recognition Scheme exists. These 37 Collections of national significance are of great value to the people of Scotland and to the millions of visitors we welcome from around the world every year.”
Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, said:
“In Scotland we enjoy some of the finest museum collections in the world. The Recognised Collections represent the absolute best of what some of our museums and galleries have to offer. From Orkney to Dumfries and Galloway visitors are inspired by collections of remarkable historic and social significance. In the current challenging environment for public services it is more important than ever to safeguard this cross section of Scotland’s culture.”
Bill Percy, Chairman of Almond Valley Heritage Trust, said:
“We are delighted that our shale oil industry collection is now a Recognised Collection of National Significance. Becoming a Recognised Collection will open many doors for the Trust”.
“With support from Museums Galleries Scotland, we recently embarked upon a major project to make our resources available on-line allowing the collection to be shared with a worldwide audience. This work is of international interest because of the industry’s huge commercial and technical influence and the family history links arising from waves of emigration from the shale mining areas of Scotland.”
Managed by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Recognised Collections ensure Scotland’s most important collections are identified, cared for, protected and promoted to wider audiences.
To date, 37 collections have been Recognised as being of national significance to Scotland. Being awarded Recognised Collection status allows Almond Valley Heritage Trust to access special funding from Museums Galleries Scotland. This funding will help ensure that they can care for their important collection and allow them to explore new and exciting ways to deliver their visitor experience.
NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS
Museums Galleries Scotland represent, through membership, over 350 museums and galleries across Scotland, which welcomes 25 million visitors and provides £800 million in value to the Scottish economy.
Images available on request.
Press contact: Communications Manager
For more information on the Recognised Collections
For information on Almond Valley Heritage Centre visit the Almond Valley website
4th Oct 2010
Edinburgh & The Lothians
Glasgow & the Clyde Valley