NS2775 : Gap site at Mearns Street
near to Greenock, Inverclyde, Great Britain
Shaws Water Works
Shaws Water Works, or Shaws Water Scheme as it is sometimes known, is a water supply system which was constructed in and around Greenock in the early 19th Century. The scheme takes its name from Shaws Water, a stream which ran in the vicinity of what is now the north bank of Loch Thom.
The scheme was built at the request of local landowner Sir Michael Shaw Stewart by Robert Thom who had experience of providing water power to his nearby Rothesay cotton mills on the Isle of Bute. The aim of the scheme was to bring water to the rapidly expanding town for drinking as well as for industrial use.
Greenock's most famous son James Watt had already provided a water supply scheme during the late 18th Century, but this was inadequate and often dried up completely during periods of dry weather. Watt and his colleague in that scheme (John Rennie) had previously stated that a scheme such as that planned by Thom was impractical owing to the need to get water around the high line of hills to the south of the town.
The scheme was opened in 1827, with a second branch being added in 1846. At its peak, the system supplied many industries in the east end of the town, around the present day Lynedoch Street, Drumfrochar Road, Dellingburn Street and Baker Street, with a branch extending further east beyond Baker Street to Cartsburn.
The served industries included a paper mill at what is now Papermill Road, sugar refineries at Lynedoch Street/Drumfrochar Road, various Ropeworks at Lynedoch Street and later at Peat Road, a distillery at Baker Street, a worsted yarn mill at Peat Road, a charcoal works (related to the sugar industry) on Baker Street, several foundries around Dellingburn Street, a rice mill and several flax and sailcloth mills.
Most of these industries have now gone or are no longer using water from the scheme, but most of the scheme survives reasonably intact today in the form of the Greenock Cut Link which is the main aqueduct bringing water from Loch Thom to the east end of the town.
Within the town itself, there can be seen many traces of the aqueducts and tunnels which still run with water and which are still maintained to avoid flooding of the town.
The scheme supplied Greenock with drinking water until as recently as 1971 at which time a tunnel was blasted through the hill from Loch Thom to Prospecthill.
It's ironic that such a system was installed and thrived in the home town of James Watt, the father of steam power, who was born a short walk from the aqueducts in the lower parts of the town.
Sources and further reading can be found at...
Sylvia Clark's excellent 1976 report on the Renfrewshire Local History Forum web site Link
The Engineering Timelines web site Link
Google Books free online book "A Brief Account of the Shaws Water Scheme and Present (1829) State of the Works" Link
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- Grid Square
- NS2775, 269 images (more nearby )
- Thomas Nugent (find more nearby)
- Image classification?
- Date Taken
- Tuesday, 4 December, 2012 (more nearby)
- Monday, 10 December, 2012
- Geographical Context
- Subject Location
OSGB36: NS 2762 7555 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5194N 4:45.7011W
- Photographer Location
- OSGB36: NS 2767 7553
- View Direction
- West-northwest (about 292 degrees)
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