Duke’s Wood
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Site of Britain's first onshore oil field

Britain's first major onshore oil discovery, occurred at the Eakring and Duke’s Wood oil fields.  In 1939  the D’Arcy exploration company, a subsidiary of Anglo/Iranian Oil, now BP, discovered oil near the town of Eakring.  Other wells were soon drilled in the nearby Duke’s Wood and by the start of the Second World War 1,200 people were employed in oil exploration and drilling.   By the end of the war some 170 “nodding donkeys”, one to every 2.5 acres, were each producing an average of 64 barrels a day.  Both fields were eventually depleted and shut down in 1989, and BP donated the site to the Nottinghamshire Trust for Nature Conservation together with a grant for upkeep.  

The original woodland has now re-grown and the site is now a nature trail through a mixed native broadleaf wood, and home to a wide variety of wildlife and a few rare orchids.  Its time as an oil field would never be suspected were it not for a memorial to the American oilmen who worked here during the war, and the five nodding donkeys kept to remind visitors of the industrial heritage.   

BP still produces oil on the British mainland from sites at Beckingham, Gainsborough, Bothamstall, Egmanton, Farley’s Wood, Corringham, Glentworth, South Leverton, Welton, Nettleham and Stainton as well as the UKs largest onshore field at Wytch Farm on the Dorset coast.   The headquarters of the UK Land Division is still based at Eakring.

Jim Thornton 1 Dec 2002.

Click here for more

Click here for the Nottinghamshire Trust for Nature Conservation

Click here to read the story of the Oil Patch Warriors, the American oilmen who drilled in Duke's wood during the Second World War.

 

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Last modified: September 26, 2006