NS3975 : Old water pump, Levengrove Park

taken 7 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Old water pump, Levengrove Park
Old water pump, Levengrove Park
This object would easily pass unremarked, but its water source was, at one time, of great importance for the town of Dumbarton.

St Shear's Well was located very close to the point at which this later water pump was erected (the water source for each is the same). As Donald MacLeod wrote in his "Historic Families, Notable People, and Memorabilia of the Lennox" (1891), "St Shear's or St Serf's well, the holy well, supplied Under Kirkton village with water. It is now a drinking fountain in the Park."

"Shear's", may be an alteration of "Serf's", as in St Serf's Church, whose ruins stand just 100 metres to the south: LinkExternal link

[The saint's name itself is encountered in various forms: Servanus, Serf, Serran, Sair, Seres. David Murray, author of "Old Cardross" (1880), was of the opinion that Shear's was derived from the last of those forms.]

The well itself is shown on the first-edition OS map (1860), and was only slightly nearer the river. On later maps, it is shown to have been replaced by this pump (I examined the pump for details of its manufacturer, but saw none).

The practical importance of the well lay in the fact that, for a long time, it fed Dumbarton's town well. The latter was located on the High Street of the medieval burgh, i.e., on the other side of the River Leven. A pipe was therefore laid on the bed of the Leven to bring the water from St Shear's well to the town well.

In another of his works, "Dumbarton Ancient and Modern" (1893), Donald MacLeod describes the town's Flesh Market, which was built in 1670, and pulled down in 1852. He writes that the slaughter-house of the burgh was in the back part of the premises, and the town's well was in front of them. As he notes, "the town's well ... was supplied by water from St Shear's Well, on the opposite side of the Leven, by a lead pipe laid in 1714 on its bed, the whole works costing 54 sterling."

Regarding the laying of the pipe to bring the water across the River Leven, the relevant entries in Dumbarton's Burgh Records are as follows (these entries do not appear in MacLeod's book, but are quoted directly from the burgh records; note that "Kirkton" was an area including the well and the ruined church see above):

27 June 1713: "In consideration of the want of good water in the town, the council resolve to convey St. Shear's Well across the Leven. Sir James Smollett to speak with the Laird of Kirkton thereanent, and to look out for some skilled person to execute the work."

29 May 1714: "The council accept of an offer made by Mr. Cairnaby, Glasgow, to bring St. Shear's Well into the town for 54. The Laird of Kirkton to be spoken to."

9 Oct 1714: "Mr. Cairnaby to be written for, to consult with the council regarding the pipes for bringing in the water."

In dry summer periods, when water was scarce, queues would build up (workers in the town's glassworks were given priority). As noted in "Dumbarton Ancient and Modern", at such times "sometimes the spout at St Shear's well would be resorted to, ... and at other times the Spout Brae, West Bridgend, was visited, and the aqua pura 'tappit' as it flashed from the pipe" (this gives some indication of the source of the well's water).
Levengrove Park :: NS3974
The lands of Levengrove were originally part of an area named Ferrylands, so called because, before Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1765, the River Leven was crossed by means of a ferry. John Dixon, a Dumbarton merchant, acquired Levengrove in 1805 from Richard Dennistoun of Kelvingrove (in Glasgow).

The Dixons built Levengrove House (demolished c.1880), whose former grounds make up much of what is now the park. In 1885, Levengrove Park, 32 acres in area, was gifted to the town of Dumbarton by Dr Peter Denny and John McMillan (son of local shipbuilder Archibald McMillan), the expense to them being 20,000.

The park contains the ruins of St Serf's Church LinkExternal link anciently the parish church of Cardross. That church was at one time part of a cluster of buildings, a clachan, that is marked as "Little Kirktoun" on the Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox. The ruined church was later used by the Dixon family as a burial place.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
TIP: Click the map for Large scale mapping
Change to interactive Map >
Grid Square
NS3975, 495 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Friday, 19 August, 2011   (more nearby)
Thursday, 27 October, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Water resources 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3936 7510 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5211N 4:34.4196W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3936 7511
View Direction
SOUTH (about 180 degrees)
Looking for a postcode? Try this pageExternal link
Clickable map

Image classification(about): Geograph
This page has been viewed about 815 times.
View this location: KML (Google Earth) · Google MapsExternal link · Bing MapsExternal link · OS Map Checksheet · Geograph Map · geotagged! More Links for this image
W Go E
You are not logged in login | register