Since 1982, Almond Valley have collected a wide range of museum objects that record and illustrate many aspects of West Lothian's past. Their current collecting policy considers social and industrial history throughout West Lothian, but focuses particularly on areas of the county that share a heritage of shale mining and oil production.
In addition to this local role, the museum has a national remit to collect museum and archive material associated with the Scottish shale oil industry and its influence worldwide. This collection has been recognised by the Scottish Government as being on national importance.
Collecting began two decades after the closure of the shale industry in Scotland, so regrettably there has been no opportunity to preserve structures and large items of equipment that characterised shale oil production. A good range of smaller objects have fortunately survived, being donated to the museum from both official sources (notably former BP plants at Pumpherston and Grangemouth) and from individuals with associations to the industry. This breadth of material happily encompasses both official company histories and the personal histories of the individuals and communities that served the industry.
Almond Valley is also custodian of the "BP archive"; the surviving company records of the shale oil companies which amalgamated to form Scottish Oils Ltd; ultimately part of the BP group. This unique resource includes detailed records of the activities of some Scottish oil companies, although the scope and coverage of the archive is sadly far from comprehensive.
Through displays and many other activities, the museum works to share the heritage of the shale oil industry with a popular audience. A programme of research supported by a hard-working band of volunteers, also works to make museum resources freely and universally accessible to specialist audiences throughout the world though the Scottish Shale website.
Almond Valley maintains close working links with Scotland's other recognised collections, and is proud to be an active member of Industrial Museums Scotland, and of the Oil Museums in Europe group.
Manufactured entirely using our cast composite process, every detail has been captured of these replica wheels with leaf springs were commissioned by Almond Valley Heritage Centre in West Lothian. These mouldings are being used as part of a new attraction on the site, with the recreation of rail carriages from the 1800s.
Cleverly constructed replicas, by their onsite creative staff, have rebuilt traditional rolling stock which children will be able to climb through from one end to the other, and relive the days of coal and steam.
There can be no doubt that the attention to detail by the staff of Almond Valley Heritage centre, and the investment made in the cast composite wheel mouldings, has added to the authenticity, durability and aesthetic value of the project, and has provided a very high quality attraction for years to come.