With all the disadvantages inherent in shale-oil production, the process may sound like a classic scheme to part investors from their money, This wasn't quite the case - a better parallel might be a "dotcom" startup, where many fail and take their investors' money with them, but some do succeed. In 1848, the "Bituminous Shale Company" extracted oil shale for the production of varnish, grease, pitch, naptha, dyes, wax, fertiliser and other by-products. Their factory was condemned as a public nuisance in 1854 because of the smell and they went into liquidation. Also in 1848, Wanostrocht&Co. lit the streets of Wareham using shale oil. A new works was built next to the railway at Wareham.
By 1858 when the plant re-opened, it was producing fifty tons of oil a year and had a contract to light the streets of Paris with gas from this product. That may well have been the high point: in 1862 the company was failing and was taken over by the new Wareham Oil and Candle Company. Several other works went into liquidation in the next few years and then in 1872 the Wareham Oil and Candle Company conveniently burnt down and the firm closed. Between then and the late 1890s, extraction flourished and new tramways were built. Eventually there were four main mining levels, but a survey in 1898, by which time production had ceased, stated that "Notwithstanding, however, the variety of uses to which the coal has been put, it has never paid the expense of extraction". However, the oil shale was once used at Kimmeridge to fire glassworks
But suppose, just suppose… after all, there's a "nodding donkey" pump on the cliffs today, and if the economics had just tilted a little the other way, Old Man Wanostrocht (and I really don't know if he existed since I haven't been through the company records in any detail) might have made a real go of it. If the fledgling US oil industry had fallen victim to a tariff war, for example, there might have been a good few years when the citizens of Paris considered “Kimmeridge Oil” the most fashionable thing to have in their lamps.
I know that all this work of fiction seems a little over the top, but I find that it helps to have a real picture in mind when deciding things like rolling stock and operating patterns. So, as I do more research about the company structures, I'll post it here.