NS2874 : A view to two reservoirs

taken 8 months ago, near to Greenock, Inverclyde, Great Britain

A view to two reservoirs
A view to two reservoirs
The more obvious of the two reservoirs is the grey area near the centre of the picture, which is a NS2874 : Covered reservoir; the little building at its near end is shown in NS2874 : Covered reservoir.

In front of the left-hand side of that covered reservoir is a near-horizontal grey line: it is a metal fence, shown from the other side in NS2874 : Aqueduct below Whinhill Reservoir. As noted in that item, an old aqueduct runs along that side of the fence.

In the present picture, there is, on the near side of that metal fence, some greenery; just below that, a small dark patch of water is visible. It is part of a body of water, centred on NS28127454, that is shown on the map.

It is the second of the reservoirs referred to in the title of the present picture; as mentioned at NS2874 : Aqueduct below Whinhill Reservoir, it is annotated on the first-edition map (surveyed in 1857) as "Reservoir (Shaws Waterworks)".

For a description of Shaws Water Works as a whole, see the end-note, written by another contributor.

The Clyde is prominent in the background. On its far shore, the town of Helensburgh can be seen on the left. The wooded promontory of Ardmore Point is on the right.

Behind the left-hand end of the covered reservoir, a conspicuous close group of trees can be seen in front of the Clyde. On the skyline, directly above those trees, is the top of Ben Lomond (NN3602), about 30km (18 miles) away.

At the centre of the skyline, directly behind a group of three trees, is a spreading hill: Beinn Uird (NS3998), about 26 km (16 miles) away.

Just to the right of that, behind a single tree, is what looks like a double peak: Beinn Chochan NN453057) with Beinn Bhreac (right, NN458059) just to its right, both about 36km (22 miles) away. See the 1:25000 map, which labels both of those peaks.

The much nearer hills on the right, across the Clyde, are Ben Bowie and the ridge of Killoeter.
Shaws Water Works :: NS2775
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 LinkExternal 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 LinkExternal link

The Engineering Timelines web site LinkExternal link

Google Books free online book "A Brief Account of the Shaws Water Scheme and Present (1829) State of the Works" LinkExternal link
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NS2874, 62 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Monday, 24 July, 2017   (more nearby)
Thursday, 3 August, 2017
Geographical Context
Water resources 
Landmark (from Tags)
Ben Lomond 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2817 7456 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:55.9981N 4:45.1356W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2809 7434
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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Other Tags
Covered Reservoir 

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Image Type (about): geograph 
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