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Loch Katrine Tunnel Ventilation Shaft Enclosures and Sighting Pillars (Former Glasgow Corporation Water Works)

A Category C Listed Building in Aberfoyle, Stirling

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.1769 / 56°10'36"N

Longitude: -4.504 / 4°30'14"W

OS Eastings: 244656

OS Northings: 701070

OS Grid: NN446010

Mapcode National: GBR 0P.GVHR

Mapcode Global: WH3ML.S0FK

Entry Name: Loch Katrine Tunnel Ventilation Shaft Enclosures and Sighting Pillars (Former Glasgow Corporation Water Works)

Listing Date: 5 October 1971

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 335378

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB4150

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberfoyle

County: Stirling

Electoral Ward: Trossachs and Teith

Parish: Aberfoyle

Traditional County: Perthshire

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Description

Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority

Line of circular ventilation shaft enclosures and sighting pillars on the slopes of Tom Ard.

ENCLOSURES: circa 1856. 7 circular random rubble enclosures about 10'-14' high, around ventilation shafts. Whinstone with rounded copes. Flat security covers to tops. Located at NN 4203 / 0884; 4197 / 0872; 4190 / 0859; 4185 / 0850; 4181 / 0841; 4165 / 0812; 4156 / 0794.

SIGHTING PILLARS: circa 1885. 3 square-plan, pyramidal-capped, rubble masonry sighting pillars. Located at NN 4185 / 0854; 4175 / 0836; 4162 / 0809.

SUMMIT PILLAR: circa 1856. About 20' high rectangular rubble masonry pillar. Located at NN 4176 / 0833.

Statement of Interest

Built to enable the construction of the tunnels carrying the first (1855) and second (1885) conduits of the Glasgow Corporation Water Works system (see below for significance of the scheme as a whole). There are a number of similar ventilation shafts and sighting pillars above the tunnelled sections of the 1855 conduit, some of which have hooped 'birdcage' tops. This line of 7 shafts and 4 pillars have been selected for listing as good representative examples because they form a strong and distinctive visual group. The shafts and summit pillar relate to the 1855 conduit tunnel and the other sighting pillars were built to facilitate the construction of the second (1885) conduit tunnel (the ventilation shafts of the second tunnel were filled in when construction was completed).

The enclosures themselves are not remarkable examples of construction, but they have historical importance as visible reminders of the engineering achievement involved in the construction of the underground conduit and the way this was achieved. Tunnelling was done by hand, using dynamite, and the shafts were used both to ventilate the tunnel and to remove spoil from it. Each shaft opening sits on a noticeable spoil pile. Sighting pillars and towers were erected along the length of the tunnels on both the first (1855) and second (1885) conduits and were used for surveying to ensure the correct alignment of the tunnels. The two most southerly pillars have stone instrument bases lying next to them. (See list description for Blairuskin Sighting Tower for further details on sighting pillars). The summit pillar is believed to have been a transit instrument base rather than a sighting pillar, and is marked as 'observatory' on the 1st and 2nd edition OS maps.

The Glasgow Corporation Water Works system, which brings water down to Glasgow from Loch Katrine, was admired internationally as an engineering marvel when it was opened in 1860. It was one of the most ambitious civil engineering schemes to have been undertaken in Europe since Antiquity, employing the most advanced surveying and construction techniques available. The scheme represents the golden age of municipal activity in Scotland and not only provided Glasgow with fresh drinking water, thereby paving the way for a significant increase in hygiene and living standards, but also a source of hydraulic power that was indispensable to the growth of Glasgow's industry as a cheap and clean means of lifting and moving heavy plant in docks, shipyards and warehouses. The civic pride in this achievement is visible in every structure connected with the scheme, from the neatly-detailed gates and railings along its route, to the massive masonry structures and iron troughs that carry the conduit and, in most cases, have withstood without failure or noticeable deterioration the daily pressure of many millions of gallons of water for well over 100 years.

Glasgow's Lord Provost, Robert Stewart (1810-66) was the driving force behind the implementation of a municipally-owned water scheme to provide clean water to Glasgow's rapidly increasing population. Loch Katrine was identified as a suitable supply and after some objections from various parties, an Act of Parliament authorising the scheme was passed in 1855. The scheme was built in two main phases following this Act and another 1885. The 1855 scheme, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1859 and was fully operational by 1860, had been designed to allow for significant expansion as demand increased, and this work was carried in the 20 years following the opening. The 1885 Act allowed a second aqueduct to be built, which followed a slightly shorter course than the earlier scheme. The capacity of the second aqueduct was also expanded during the first half of the 20th century.

John Frederick Bateman (1810-1889) was chosen as the engineer for the scheme and construction work commenced in 1856. Bateman was to become one of the world's most eminent water engineers, and worked on a number of other water supply schemes in Britain, Europe and Asia. He was assisted by James Morrison Gale (1830-1905), who on the completion of the initial scheme in 1859 was appointed Water Engineer for the City of Glasgow, a post he held till 1902. Gale was responsible for over-seeing the incremental expansion of the first scheme during the 1860s and '70s and the building of the second aqueduct from 1885 onwards.

Listing reviewed as part of the thematic review of Loch Katrine water supply system in 2008.

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