The Well House, Mine Road, Bridge of Allan

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Category
AT RISK
Name of Building
The Well House
Other Name(s)
Address
Mine Road, Bridge of Allan
Locality
Postcode
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
5167
Listing Category
B
OS Grid Ref
NS 79504 97686
Location Type
Small Town
HS Reference No
52198

Description

Single storey, rectangular-plan former well house, with centre door. Cement render with stone margins. Ogee-moulded skewputts. Timber bargeboarding to gables. Grey slates, pitched roof. Ashlar and coped stack to east gable.

The well house at Bridge of Allan could be amongst the earliest buildings of this type in Scotland, predating the hydropathic movement. The mineral springs and their medical qualities were decisive in the development of Bridge of Allan and this well house is one of the earliest surviving buildings in the village associated with this important industry. It is, therefore, a significant part of the area's social and economic history. The village of Bridge of Allan, formerly part of the Airthrey estate, developed as a result of the discovery of mineral springs in the early 19th century. Although the medicinal qualities of the water were known by the local labourers in the mid-18th century, (Roger, p5), it was not until Sir Robert Abercrombie purchased the Airthrey estate from the Haldanes Family in 1807 that the water from the metal ore mines was analysed by Dr Thomson, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow and the results published. This discovery transformed Bridge of Allan 'from the sequestered retreat of rural life to the favoured resort of elegance and fashion' (Roger, p3), with the springs one of the highest quality in Great Britain (Statistical Account, 1841). These mid-19th century accounts demonstrate the importance of the mineral waters to Bridge of Allan. The well house is the earliest surviving building associated with this spa town. A mid-19th century account dates the building to 1821 (Roger, p7), which is consistent with its functional design and map evidence. The building is first evident on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1861), and the footprint is shown as three components, understood to be the well room, which accommodated the pumping machinery required to pump the mineral water up a 110 foot shaft; the sale room, for the receiving of the mineral water, and an ancillary block to the rear, the use of which is unknown. To accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the area, the upper town, in which the well house is situated, was feued and villas were constructed. Following the introduction of hydropathics to Scotland in 1843, a hydropathic was constructed in Bridge of Allan, circa 1860 (enlarged 1868) and a new well house (1861), to improve and increase spa facilities (see separate listings). The drinking of chalybeate water, or mineral springs with a high iron content, for medicinal purposes was a fashionable pastime in Scotland for the wealthy from the 18th century. Housing for such springs, and in particular to accommodate the pumping equipment required to raise the water, was typically small and plain in design. The concept of hydropathics, which built upon this idea of using water for pain relief and treatment, was introduced to Scotland by Dr East and Dr Paterson, when they opened their hydropathics in Dunoon and Glenburn in 1843. Their hydropathics were based on that at Grafenburg, Austria, founded by Vincent Preissnit, in 1826, which is considered to be the first modern hydropathic in the world. As well as the benefits of water, such hydropathics promoted the benefits of a healthy environment including recreational facilities and a plain diet, and as such, larger buildings were required. These were commonly constructed in areas with chalybeate waters. (Historic Scotland)

Erskine's Guide to Bridge of Allan (1901) notes that Sir Robert Abercromby had the waters which flowed through the copper mine (disused since 1807) tested in 1820 by the University of Glasgow, their value reputed to have been locally recognised by at least the 18th century. Having had the water's therapeutic values confirmed, Sir Robert built and opened to the public a well-house in 1821. In 1861 a new well-house nearby was constructed, along with a Turkish Bath, joined in 1864 by a Hydropathic Hotel (now flats).
Building Dates
1821
Architects
Unknown

Category of Risk and Development History

Condition
Very Poor
Category of Risk
High
Exemptions to State of Risk
Not to be confused with the rest of the former Spa buildings which are not at risk.
Field Visits
28/9/2012, 4/5/2015
Development History
December 2011: Nominated by a member of the public. It is believed that the well head, the pump and numerous pipes still survive within the structure. The roof at the rear is advised as having fallen in. For Investigation.
28 September 2012: External inspection finds the building remains derelict. The roof is in poor condition especially to the rear where there is a large hole and sagging. The building is threatened by the plants and ttrees which are growing on and around it. Moved to At Risk.
13 April 2015: Historic Scotland designated the former well house a Category B-listed building in April 2014. Record updated to note the listed status of the structure.
4 May 2015: External inspection finds the building remains in much the same condition as seen previously.
18 December 2020: A member of the public advises the property changed hands in 2019 and a group of volunteers are now pursuing restoration of the site.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Bridge of Allan
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
01786 442453

Availability

Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Price
Occupancy
Vacant
Occupancy Type
N/A
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Unverified see FAQ on ascertaining ownership
Type of Ownership
Unknown

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Bibliography
Erskine's Guide to Bridge of Allan (1901) Stirling Observer Press p 12-15

Bridge of Allen the rise of a village (1970) Ella Maclean p96-7
Online Resources
Classification
Water Supply
Original Entry Date
12-DEC-11
Date of Last Edit
27/01/2020