Stirling Water Works – Reservoir and Works at Touch 1847 – 1947

Although man made, reservoirs are an important part of Scotland’s landscape. They not only provide water to the populace, they also act as a good habitat for wildlife and provide a pleasant environment for outdoor activities of all kinds, the larger ones being used for various water sports such as paddle boarding, canoeing and sailing. This post, written as part of our response to Scotland’s second Year of Coasts and Waters, will be concentrating on the infrastructure that supported the supply of water to Stirling.

By the mid nineteenth century, the existing water supply for Stirling in the Touch Hills, from which the Town had had taken its water since mediaeval times, was becoming inadequate for the needs of the populace. At this time, Stirling was in a state of growth and its population was increasing rapidly. Calls to improve the supply were being considered by the Council from the late 1830s onwards. In response to this Stirling Burgh Council applied to Parliament for an act to bring an additional supply of water to Stirling on 5th October 1847. Parliament passed the Stirling Waterworks Act on 9th June 1848 as 11 Victoria Chapter 8.

Although the Water Works Commission was an autonomous body, the Provost and 6 Councillors of the Burgh acted as Commissioners alongside 6 householders elected from amongst the ratepayers of the Burgh, and the Secretary of the Trustees was the Stirling Town Clerk so there were close links between the Water Works and the Council. It is because of this that the records of Stirling Water Works are held at the Council Archives.

The improvements were financed by the levy of a Public Water Rate, payable by existing ratepayers twice per year at Martinmas and Whitsunday. Work started immediately on a new facility in the Touch Hills.

After the works in 1847, there were further expansions at the site in 1863, 1880, 1892, 1900, 1920, 1931 and 1939. There are drawings of all of these works held at the Council Archives along with specifications for them and the series of Commissioners’ minute books that record all of the decisions made concerning the operation between 1847 and 1939.

The Water Works Commissioners were dissolved in accordance with clauses 66 – 72 of the Stirling Burgh Order 1939 on the 16th May 1939. The water undertaking along with all of its property and premises were transferred to Stirling Burgh. After the utilities were nationalised in 1947, the Water Works was moved from Touch to Forthside, where it remains today under the administration of Scottish Water.