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A History of the Parish of Neilston
Chapter V. - The Rivers and Streams of the Parish


In no particular has there been greater diversity of opinion, and error, than in the accounts given of the origin and distribution of the several water courses of the parish by writers who have dealt with this question. Some writers have ridiculed the errors of others, whilst they have themselves fallen into equally grave mistakes when dealing with other parts of the same subject.

THE RIVER LEVERN

The name is of Celtic origin, and signifies the “noisy stream.” This is by much the largest and most important stream in the parish, and throughout its past history it has always been the same. The use of steam as a motive power has, no doubt, to a great extent superseded its operations at many of the works on its banks, but it is still a stream of first importance and great beauty. It takes its origin in the Long Loch. This loch is situated on the level uplands beyond Moyne Moor, and is about one and a half to two miles long, and half a mile broad. From this origin it flows through Harelaw Dam and farm, and in the lands of the latter is joined by the Knock Burn, a tributary from the farm of Nether-Carswrell, in a hollow on the upper lands of which there formerly existed Knock Loch. With the exception of a small pond for the farmer’s mill, the waters of this loch are now drained off. After crossing Kingston Road, under a quaint old narrow bridge—which has recently undergone repair, and been widened on one side—the Levern enters Commore Dam, whence it passes through Waterside, where, for many years, there was situated a bleaching work of that name. This was the first bleaching work on the river, and as such, from the purity of the water, was considered one of the most important in the valley for fine fabrics. It is now, however, quite a ruin, having been driven out of the trade chiefly on account of the extra cost of working, especially from expense in coal, owing to its distance from any railway station.

At this point the Levern formerly received the waters of the “Lady Well,” a perennial spring now turned to domestic purposes in supplying the town of Neilston with water, and mil be elsewhere referred to. Having given off a branch here to turn a wheel for the farm of Neilstonside, but which is now no longer used, the river leaves the vicinity of the solitary ruin, and flows through a series of most tortuous links—“The Links of Levern”—in the meadow land, where it forms the inarch between the farms of Neilstonside and Jaapston, and where, many years ago, there used to be a considerable dam. It now crosses “the Keeper’s Road” under an ancient arch, and passing the remains of the ‘‘Old Grain Mill,”—Mali’s Mill,—to which it used to lend its power, it rushes into Midge-hole Glen, or “Image-hole Glen,” for there is a local tradition thus accounting for the origin of the name. During the Reformation period, the iconoclastic zeal of some of the reformers led them to drag the image of the Virgin from the religious house at Waterside to the falls in this glen, w^here they dashed it on the rocks in the bed of the stream, whence the name “Image-hole Glen,” now corrupted to Midge-hole Glen. This glen is a very picturesque ravine, in which there are two very fine water-falls, over which the water plunges, especially when in spate, in white foam, into deep basins beneath, which have been honoured by poetic notice, and have received the names of “Kilnminning’s Linn,” and “Dusty’s Linn,” from above downwards. Subjoined are the lines referred to :—

“Now rushing o’er Kilnminning’s Linn,
Now jouking ’neath brambles it goes;”

and

“Are hushed here as foaming the flow
Of Levern o’er Dusty’s Linn loud.”

The Image Glen then (for on the grounds of euphony the word hole should be dropped from its name as an inelegant clog) is beautifully wooded with overhanging trees on its eastern bank, whilst on its western bank there is a right-of-way, which is a favourite walk with the youthful lieges.

Having now reached the lower meadow land by these falls, the waters glide smoothly along through Kilburn farm to what was, until

lately, Lintinill Bleaching Works, formerly a “Wank Mill.” For many years this was a prosperous and thriving concern, but now it is a complete ruin. The river now crosses under Uplawmoor Hoad to “High Croft-head,” also, until recently, a thriving bleaching and dyeing work employing one or two hundred hands, men and women, but of which not even the ruins are left, all having been torn down to make concrete; the same fate having equally befallen “Holehouse Laundry,” to which also the Levern gave a supply of water. These works having been utterly destroyed, the workers, many of them old in the service of the employers, were scattered in helplessness.

“In fares the land to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay.”

Hastening from these inhospitable scenes, the waters pass through Crofthead Thread Works, and here the level of the Levern valley is reached at a point coinciding with the east end of Cowden Glen,, where it receives the water of Cowden Burn. This burn is made up of the united waters of Shilford and Witch Burns. The former rises in Tuphead Park and meadows, of Cowdenmoor farm ; passing Shilford Sawmill they flow eastward to join the Witch Burn in the meadows below. The Witch Burn flows from two sources, one in Dumgrain Moor on the farm of Aboon-the-Brae, which runs in the hollow south of Braeface hill, and thence through the meadows of Braeface and Jaapston farms, and joins the other branch which rises in the moorland south of Knockglass farm, and passes eastward by the glen west of How-Craig’s-Hill, to its junction with the stream from Dumgrain Moor.

The united streams now continue as the Witch Burn, and cross under a bridge on Uplawmoor Road. Now flowing through a tortuous channel where the banks consist of several high terraces which the waters have scooped out in the course of long ages, the burn plunges over a shelving rock forming an agreeable waterfall, into the meadow land below, where it joins Shilford Burn as previously stated. The waters of the united burns now continue to flow eastward alongside the railway, till, on leaving Cowden Glen, they join the river Levern as Cowden Burn at Crofthead Thread Works as before indicated.

At Crofthead Mill the Levern gives off a lade or millrace for the supply of Broadlie Bleaching and Dyeing Works, thence passing under Levern or Crofthead Bridge it reaches the south side of the turnpike road from Glasgow, and at Broadlie Mill passes under this road from the south to reach the north side of the railway, where it immediately receives the water from Killoch Glen.

Killoch Burn rises by two heads. The first takes origin in the moors of Caplaw farm and flows south, under Sergeantlaw Road leading to Paisley. Continuing through Greenfield Moor, it is joined by the second stream, the Witch Burn (the second of that name in the parish), which springs in the meadows of Foreside farm. The burn now passes under the road leading to Capellie farm, and shortly gains the upper reaches of Killoch Glen. In traversing this beautiful glen to arrive at the level of the general valley at Killoch Laundry, where it joins the Levern, the water is precipitated over a series of falls which present a grand appearance when in flood.

The muses have been courted by more than one poet 111 this beautiful glen, and the gentle Tannahill found inspiration in singing the glories—

“O’er Glen-Killoch’s sunny brae.”

In the course of the descent two small streams are taken from the Killoch Water, the upper as a mill-race to Killoch farm, whence it is continued to the dam for Fereneze Printing Works at Gateside, after which it joins the Levern ; the other, at a lower level, is ponded up and led in pipes to Millfield Printing Works, after which it also joins the Levern. Still pursuing its useful career, the Levern runs eastward past the Waterproofing Works at Gateside, West Arthurlie Cotton Mills, Chappell Laundry, Saunders & Connor’s Sanitary Engineering Works, Lochrie & Nelson’s Plumber Works, through Grahamston. Here it passes under the road leading from Barrhead to Paisley and enters the Dunterlie valley, where it is joined by the waters of Kirkton Burn, which have been pursuing an equally useful but quite different course.

Kirkton Burn.-—The waters of this burn take origin in the marsh and meadow-land surrounding the skirts of Neilston Pad, both north and south. On the north, they are gathered into Craigha’ Dam, whence, after giving off a mill-pond for the Craig farm, they flow into Kirkton Dam. In the south and east, they originate in the meadows of Loanfoot, Lo Walton and High Walton farms, and flow into Snypes Dam, whence they also pass into Kirkton Dam. From this dam Kirkton Burn proper begins, and passes under the road leading from Neilston to Mearns immediately on leaving the dam; thence it continues past Kirkton Grain Mill, Kirktonfield Bleaching Works, Netherkirkton Works, now in ruin, to Wraes

Grain Mill, whence it flows through Colinbar Glen to Blackwood’s, or Arthurlie Bleaching Works; it crosses what was lately Blackwood’s Dam, now filled up, giving off a stream to Arthurlie Skinnery filters; thence by a conduit under the road leading from Barrhead to Neilston it passes by the Skinnery, under the road from Barrhead to Paisley, in a built channel, where it was formerly ponded up (now drained off) behind Cross Arthurlie Inn; and shortly after, as before stated, joins the Levern at Dunterlie valley.

Walton Burn.—This burn takes origin in Snypes Moss and the lands of Muirhead, Low Walton, and North Walton farms. Having been first gathered into Walton Dam, it flows thence, and crosses the road leading from Neilston to Mearns almost immediately. At this point it constitutes the boundary between these two parishes. Passing through Burnside farm, the water is again stored up in Glanderston Dam, which burst with such disastrous consequence in 1842, again referred to. Thi^ sheet of water now occupies what was probably the gardens of Glanderston House, at one time the residence of a branch of the ancient family of the Mures of Caldwell, but of which not even the ruins now remain. Here, too, a bleaching work was subsequently carried on by the family of Cochrane, afterwards of Kirktonfield. Glanderston Burn continues from this dam to Springfield and South Arthurlie Calico Printing Works; and now, sadly changed in colour by dye stuffs, it continues its course by Arthurlie to Aars Road, which it crosses under the name of Aars Burn. Flowing sluggishly thence to Darnley, it joins the Brock Burn, and the conjoined waters pass on to Househill, where they unite with the Levern, and continuing their course through the lands of Nether Pollok, enter the White Cart at Crookston.

Craigton Burn.—This burn rises in the moss-land of South Walton and Middleton farms, in the parish of Mearns; flowing thence through the small glen between these lands, it reaches Craigton farms, where it is collected into a small mill-pond and drives a water-wheel; continuing its flow through the Craigton meadows, it there becomes united with the water of the Brock Burn.

Brock Burn.—This burn draws its source from the extensive moor west of Dodhill, in the parish of Mearns, from the west side of the same hill, and the meadow-land of Banner Bank farm, on the Stewarton Road. Flowing thence through Langton farm, it crosses the road leading by the Craigtons from Neilston to Mearns, and entering the meadows, there it receives the water of Craigton Burn, as before stated. The Brock now continues past Fingleton Grain Mill and South Balgray House, where it enters Gorbals Gravitation Reservoir. From the reservoir the riparian or compensation water continues through Waulk-mill Glen to Darnley, where it is joined by the Aars or Walton Burn, and thence flows, as before mentioned, to Househill, where it enters the Levern, and subsequently the Cart.

All the streams hitherto enumerated and described have been flowing in a direction that is more or less eastward through the parish, but there are four streams that in their course flow towards the west. These are Thortor Burn, Pollick Burn, Lugton River, and Cross-burn.

Thortor Burn.—The name by which this stream is locally known, and the farm of the same name through which it flows, is evidently a corruption of the words “Athort-the-burn,” that is, across the burn, and has reference to the position of the farm-house which is at the other side of the stream from the main road, The waters of this burn are gathered from the moorland of “Thortor-burn” farm, and after flowing down a narrow gully towards the railway, they continue along the north side of the line, through the meadows, into the east end of Loch Libo.

The Lugton.—This river takes origin from the west end of Loch Libo, and passes beyond the boundary of the parish just as it enters the policies of Caldwell. Continuing its course westward, it passes through the policies of Eglinton Castle, where it is joined by the Garnock from Kilbirnie hills; here it unites with the Irvine, and so reaches the estuary of the Clyde.

Pollick Burn.—This water draws its source from the moorlands and meadows of the several Uplaws and Linnhead farms. Crossing the road above Uplawmoor station, it passes through Pollick Glen, a very picturesque ravine, to Neukfoot; thence under the Joint Line and turnpike at Caldwell station, where it enters the waters of the Lugton quite near its source. This water constitutes the newly-adjusted boundary of the parish in the west.

Dunsmuir or Cross-burn draws it source from Moorhouse and Braco meadows, where it is ponded up, and was used at a saw-mill formerly at Cross-burn, but now gone. After flowing through The Hall farm and Caldwell policies, where it forms a small curling pond, it joins the Lugton.

Lochs and Dams.

In a parish where the water supply is so abundant as it is in Neilston, as evidenced by the number and variety of streams that contribute to swell our main river, the Levern, as has been pointed out, and where the water supply is wanted all the year round, one naturally expects that there would be such provision made as would place the regulation of the supply under the control of those who required it, and this is found to be the case. Storage is provided by lochs and reservoirs in the upper reaches of the parish, as the general supply comes from the elevated moorland in the south and west. First and most important of these water storages is the Long Loch. This loch, which is from a mile and a half to two miles long by half a mile broad, is situated about four miles from Neilston, between Moyne Moor and James’ Hill. The surrounding country is a bleak, rough tract of moss and heatherland, at an elevation varying from 808 feet to 900 feet, which extends from Dumgrain in this parish to Lochgoin Moors in the parish of Eaglesham. The boundary line between the parishes of Neilston and Mearns passes longitudinally through this loch, and continues across Harelaw Dam, into which the water from Long Loch flows. The character of the land by which this sheet of water is surrounded, being free from all manure contamination— none of it being under cultivation—renders it an admirable gathering ground, and the water being naturally soft, is in every way adapted for domestic purposes. From this source the town of Neilston now obtains its water supply by gravitation, supplementary to the excellent spring water from the Lady Well.

Harelaw Dam.—This is a large body of water, being the surplus storage of the overflow water from Lono-Loch. There are one or two small islands in it, and in early spring they swarm with the nests and squabs of seagulls, which have come inland from the coast for breeding purposes.

Commore and Crofthead Dams are places of storage for the Levern in its upper reaches, after leaving which it continues its course as already described.

Snypes, Craigha’, and Kirkton Dams are places of storage for the water of Kirkton Burn; while Walton and Glanderston Dams store the water of Walton Burn. Craigton Dam is a small storage for the former’s use. These dams are well stocked with fish—trout, perch, and braze. Fcreneze Dam, at Gateside, is a storage pond for Fereneze Printing Works. The water is brought from Killoch Burn by a lade, as described when speaking of that stream. West Arthurlie Dam is a place of storage for the cotton mill of that name. Arthurlie Bleaching Works obtain their water supply from Kirkton Burn at Colinbar Glen.

Formerly there existed on the lands of Nether Carswell a considerable sheet of water—the Knock Loch—which is referred to and marked in many of the older maps and records of the parish ; but the water of this loch was drained oft’ many years ago, with the exception of a small millpond for the farmer’s use. The water is continued into the meadows below, where it joins the Levern as the Knock Burn. On the land of Greenhill Farm there at one time existed a small collection of water— Greenhill Loch—marked on some local maps, but it also has long since been drained away.

Loch Libo.—This beautiful and picturesque loch lies near the western border of the parish, in the valley between Caldwell Law on the north and Uplawmoor Wood on the south. The turnpike road leading into Ayrshire passes along its southern edge for about a mile. The district railway from Glasgow to Kilmarnock runs along the margin of the water, yet in such a way as simply to lend variety and animation to the scene. Viewed from the slopes of Uplawmoor Wood, everything about the loch looks calm and peaceful. In its sedgy surroundings, the gaunt heron (Ardea cinereci) may be seen fishing in patience, and the round leaves and creamy yellow trumpets of the water lilies (Nymph cea cdba) observed floating on its surface—what time the month of July brings round Glasgow Fair. The monotonous note of the coot (Fulica atra), the wild duck (Anas boskcis), and water-hen (Gcdlinula chloropus) are to be heard as they glide over its surface, leaving the wavelets of their rippling course behind them in their wake. The stately spike of the reed mace (Typha latifolia) and the delicate colour and soft waxy flowers of the bog-bean (Menyanthes trifoliatci), that adorn its marshy margin, all contribute to enhance a scene of transcending loveliness. On a calm day its tranquil waters form a mirror in which the umbrageous woods that skirt the surrounding hills, and the green hills themselves, are gracefully reflected in its transparent depths.

The loch, in its general outline, is of an oval form, which renders it more pleasing to the eye. As already stated, the water from “Thortorburn” glen flows into it from the direction of Shilford, through the meadows of Banklug Farm, to the east; whilst from its western extremity the Lugton river takes origin. Loch Libo is well stocked with fish, especially pike, but eels, perch, and braze are also abundant.

For many years coal was profitably wrought 011 the southern edge of the loch, but about 1791 the waters broke in upon the underground workings, deluging the pit and drowning several of the unfortunate workmen. Since then, although attempts have been made to renew operations, nothing special has come of them, and the pit is now closed.

Hartfield, Brownside, or Caplaw Dam—for this sheet of water is known by each of these names—is produced by the waters of the Altpatrick burn having been ponded up 011 Hartfield moor. The Alt-patrick water flows eastward from this dam to Glenpatrick Carpet Works, near which it is known as the Brandy Burn. This water constitutes the boundary between the parishes of Neilston and Paisley. The volume of water in the dam varies with the weather conditions, but it is always kept well stocked with fine trout by the parties owning the shooting on the surrounding; moor.

On the top of Fereneze hills, at an altitude of about GOO feet, is Harelaw Dam, the waters of which are collected from the moorland around Duchal-law. The boundary between Neilston and Paisley parishes passes through this sheet of water.

Spring Wells of Neilston.

Previous to the adoption, in 1892, of the scheme for “Neilston Special Water Supply” from the spring at Lady Well, situated near the old bleachfield of Waterside, the water supply of the inhabitants was drawn, for all domestic purposes, from a number of spring wells, mostly with hand-pumps on them, that were distributed throughout the different parts of the town and neighbourhood. These wells have now all been closed by order of the sanitary authority, as the subsoil through which the water percolated had, by long years of defective drainage and constant use, become more or less contaminated with sewage. In the older and, at that time, more densely peopled part of the town, sewage, on chemical analysis, was found to have made its way into the water of most of the wells to such a degree as to render them, in time of drought especially, a source of danger to the inhabitants, who were obliged to use them, having no alternative means of obtaining water. But though no longer in use, I consider it a matter of local interest that they should be enumerated, their locality pointed out, the names recorded by which they were known, and the quality of the water they yielded referred to, especially as by this means it will be possible to point out the strati-graphic limits within which it was quite safe, in sinking a well, to expect to obtain a supply of water.

The number of wells in the town and neighbourhood, except in seasons of extreme drought, afforded an ample supply of water to the inhabitants, but its quality was not always to be relied upon, especially in periods of protracted dry weather. During such times, when any disease of an epidemic character threatened the district, the wells were duly examined and the water analysed, and such sanitary and protective measures adopted as the requirements of the outbreak seemed to demand, to give it check. These steps were carefully carried out at the instance of the Sanitary Inspector and Sanitary Medical Officers under the Parochial Board.

The wrells in and around the town were thirty-seven in number, and I propose simply to enumerate them, giving the names by which they were known, and making reference to the analysis of the more important of them at the end :—

Lady Well, a spring of great importance, to be more particularly referred to again; Murdoch-moor Well; Toll Well; Betty’s Well; Big Well; The School Well; Wishart’s Well; Craig’s Well; Wilson’s Well; Robertson’s Well; The Cross Well; Holehouse, or the Doctor’s, Well; Bussell’s Well; High Broadlie Well; Marshall’s Well; Waddell’s Well; Gray’s Well; Gallocher’s Well; Baker’s Well; Telfer’s Well; Lang Laird’s Well; Wright’s Well; Writer’s Well; Manse Well; Butter Well; The Rest Well; Kirkhill Well; Kirkhill Cottage Well; Lindsay’s Well; Menteith’s Well; Nether Kirkton Well; Killoch Well; Auchen-tiber Well; Barnfauld Well; Broadlie Well; Broadlie Bleaching Green Well; and the well in Broadlie Wood.

These wells were not all equally available to the public, as many of them were connected with private property, and I will, therefore, give only the analysis, with extracts from the remarks of Professor Penny, of Anderson’s College, Glasgow, of those wells that were situated in the most populous parts of the town.

The Big Well.—“An imperial gallon of this water was found to contain 34’40 grains of dissolved ingredients, consisting of—

“The analysis shows that this water is strongly charged with saline substances and contains a larger proportion of organic matter than is usually found in good, wholesome waters.

“In colour, taste, and other physical qualities, this water was found to be unexceptionable, but distinct evidence was obtained of a small quantity of surface drainage and matter analogous to sewage.”

The Cross Well.—“It was found that an imperial gallon of this water contained 72 grains of dissolved ingredients, consisting of—

“The large proportion of sulphate of lime and nitrates and chlorides in this water, is conclusive in showing that it is polluted with the products of surface drainage, of the nature of sewage from an inhabited locality. The organic matter is also in notable quantity, and partly of an animal and noxious character.

“This is an impure and decidedly unwholesome water, and unsuitable for any kind of domestic use.”

Gallocher’s, or the Chapel Well.—“An imperial gallon of this water was found to contain 39 '00 grains of dissolved ingredients, consisting of—

“This is an impure and polluted water, evidently containing products from objectionable surface drainage. The organic matter is in large proportion, and of noxious character. The presence of nitrates and the marked quantity of sulphate of lime is peculiarly indicative of its being polluted with matter from objectionable sources.”

Yet, though decidedly unwholesome, this water was clear to the eye and pleasant to the taste, and a favourite water with the people in its neighbourhood.

High Broadlie Well.—“An imperial gallon of this water contained 19 grains of dissolved ingredients, consisting of—

“This water is of fair quality for domestic use. The total amount of dissolved ingredients is not in excess of the quantity contained in many waters used for town supply, and in the proportion present none of the ingredients may be regarded as hurtful or objectionable. But the presence of nitrates indicates that surface drainage has access to the well.”

The water was held in high repute by the people who used it.

The Toll Well.—“An imperial gallon of this water was found to contain 11*5 grains of dissolved ingredients, consisting of—-

“This is a good, wholesome water; in colour, taste, and appearance, all that could be desired. The organic matter is wholly of a vegetable nature, and in the proportion present quite harmless. It is free from iron and nitrates, and from all injurious metallic impregnation.”

The wells, in the order in which I have given their analysis, extended mostly westward from the centre of the town, and it is highly significant that the objectionable contamination lessens in amount as we go west, until at the Toll Well—and the same remark applies to the Doctor’s, or Holehouse, Well—which is quite free of the town to westward, organic pollution is entirely eliminated, and the water becomes quite a desirable water for all domestic and potable purposes. And it is further worthy of observation, that this clearly indicates the direction from which the body of water flows which supplied the wells, viz., from west to east under the town.

The practical limits of the underground water, from which nearly, if not absolutely, all the wells in the town had their supply, is evidenced by the physical characters of the wells themselves. To the west of the town they were near the surface and shallow; towards the centre of the town many of them were quite deep; and, again, as they got clear of the town, towards the east, they became shallower, until at Kirkhill, they came almost to the surface. It is thus apparent that the water gathered in the extensive trappean hill district to the west of the town, gravitating down their sloping surfaces and percolating through the relatively porous formation on its way, found its natural bed in the irregular trough that is thus shown to pass under the town, and gained a more or less natural outlet at Kirkhill and Netherkirkton in the east. This was amply verified during the introduction of the drainage scheme through the town,—when it became necessary, from the irregular levels of the streets, to make deep cuttings at certain parts, as from the Cross to the bend in High Street, and from the former to near the Chapel, where they were as much as 18 feet deep,—the inflowing water so filled the pipe-track as to necessitate the almost constant use of a powerful portable pump to admit of the men getting on with the work at all. Whilst the trend of the subterranean trough is from west to east, in which direction the underground stream flows, its width would also appear to be well defined by the sloping lands of Broadlie on the north and north-west, and the meadow-lands of Kirkton on the south. Within these limits, wells could be sunk almost anywhere with every prospect of obtaining water. But on the hill-slope where the lands of Broadlie dip towards the Levern, the water seems to be lost, as boring in these parts was attended with failure.

By much the most important spring in the neighbourhood is that of Lady Well, situated on the farm of Aboon the Brae. During the existence of the bleaching works at Waterside, the water of this spring was stored up, and was used for finishing the finest kinds of bleached goods.

The very unsatisfactory, and, in the light of analysis, even dangerous water-supply of Neilston, forced the necessity of obtaining a purer water upon the notice of the inhabitants, and, under the guidance of the then District Committee of the County Council, accordingly, it was resolved to accomplish this by bringing into the town the water from the powerful spring of Lady Well. The flow of water from this well was favourably spoken of in the Gazetteer of Scotland as to quantity, and the proverbial oldest inhabitant had no scruples in declaring that it never varied summer nor winter. Accordingly, measurements were taken and calculations made, and its adoption, which was fixed upon, was looked forward to with confidence ; and, as the water was of the very purest and seemed adequate, there was a general feeling of satisfaction. The work connected with the bringing in of this water-supply, and constructing storage tank, into which it was led, west of the town, was completed in the autumn of IS92, and for a time the supply seemed to be quite equal to the demands made upon it. But now that the water of Lady Well came under closer observation and measurement, the flow was found to vary very materially in the winter and summer months; and that whilst the supply was sufficient for the requirements of the inhabitants for about two-thirds of the year, in the summer it proved altogether inadequate, and the people had to be placed upon a limited supply—the average maximum flow from the spring having varied from a rate of about 54,000 gallons in 24 hours, to an average minimum flow, during the same period, of about 12,500 gallons. This fluctuation of supply, and the great inconvenience experienced by the inhabitants in being placed on short allowance, led to some of the wells—which had all been closed—being opened up again for use in summers of great drought, with all the risks attendant, so that it became necessary to look out for an additional water-supply.

At first it was thought that this might be accomplished by sinking an Artesian well; and, accordingly, a bore was put down on the outer skirts of the Pad, about a hundred yards south of Kingston Road, but with very unsatisfactory results, the maximum amount obtained being only about 1,700 gallons per day ; although, considering where the bore was sunk—on the top of a trap formation—it is difficult to see how other results could have been expected. Finally, after an expenditure of £42G, both the engineer and borer reported that, in their opinion, it would not be expedient to proceed further with the boring operations. Blasts of gelignite were discharged in the bore at different depths, in the hope of reaching some under-flow, but without any more satisfactory results. This was in the year 1899. The first 30 feet of this bore passed through “blue boulder clay,” and the remaining 370 feet “through very close-grained trap rock.”

The question of a sufficient water-supply being still clamant, it was decided, after some negotiation, to apply to the Local Government Board to acquire the right to 100,000 gallons of water per day from the Long Loch, on the southern border of the parish, and in due course the consent of the Board was obtained. The estimated cost of the scheme was £1,900. This was in the year 1901, but it was not till the beginning of 1903 that the work was finished, and the water turned on. The Long Loch, as already described under lochs, is situated on an extensive moor in the hilly uplands to the west of the parish, and about four miles from the town. It is a large body of water, about one and a half or two miles long by half a mile wide, and admirably placed as a gathering-ground for a domestic water, being free from all kinds of pollution, and never likely to give trouble so far as regards shortage—a very important matter for any community.

But scarcely had the inhabitants begun to realize the blessings of this abundant water-supply, when they were startled by an announcement of the supply having to be shortened—no water in the town all night, supply cut off “from 7 o’clock p.m. till 7 o’clock a.m.” Not from want of water in this instance, for this was in the summer of 1907, which had been one continuous deluge, but on account of the service-pipes from the Long Loch being too small (six inches in diameter), and “ air having got into them without sufficient provision having been made for getting it out again.” This error has now been put right by having larger pipes put in, at a further cost, however, of about £900.

Referring to the variability of the flow from the Lady Well spring, the fact that the flow never entirely ceases, precludes it from being classified with “ intermittent springs.” Its rising and sinking would appear rather to indicate variations of level from time to time in the underground reservoir from which its supplies are drawn, whilst the extensive moor of Dumgrane, which occupies the great hollow in the trap formation around Knockanpe, constitutes the gathering-ground. This moor spreads out for miles in every direction, stretching beyond the parish of Neilston into that of Dunlop, and is filled with treacherous moss and “wellies,” into which cattle sometimes wholly disappear—a horse having sunk into one of them a few years ago, possibly to form a subject of enquiry to some geologist of the age when Macaulay’s Zulu will be studying St. Paul’s from the vantage ground of the ruins of London Bridge—and Lady Well would seem to form the principal, though not the onlv natural outlet. This to some extent is evidenced by the fact that it is not until some time after continuous and heavy rains, that the increased flow is experienced, and that the low continues at nearly its maximum discharge long after drought has begun to be felt by every other surrounding object; as if the great extent of moss in the moor had first to supply its own wants to perfect saturation, before allowing the water to percolate through the surface to the underground reservoir at all, whilst the latter continues to supply the spring long after the surface moorland has begun to suffer from evaporation and drought.

Climate of the Parish.

Where there is such diversity of altitude in the land, as is to be found in the parish of Neilston, rising from a level of about three hundred feet above the sea in the lower or eastern district, to eight and nine hundred in the western or upper district, it is naturally to be expected that there will be climatic differences, for the inter-relationship that is always found to subsist between climate and altitude is found to apply here also. In the lower lands, as about Barrhead, where the soil is everywhere fertile, the seasons are earlier by about two or three weeks than in the upper district of Neilston and Uplawmoor, and harvesting is correspondingly sooner begun ; there is greater dampness, and more mists, and consequently the climatic surroundings are slightly milder and more relaxing than in the upper district. Spring is earlier, frost in winter is less severe, but fogs are more frequent and prolonged. From the town of Neilston, which is about 500 feet above sea level, the land westward rises gradually by gentle undulations, and the natural drainage by the number of streams that flow through it, causes it to be drier than that in the east. The atmosphere is clearer, more bracing and invigorating, and although the seasons are a little later, its comparative proximity to the sea—being only about fourteen miles from the Firth of Clyde, at Troon— makes it that they are never rigorous, whilst its great salubriousness is evidenced, amongst other things, by the great longevity of many of its inhabitants. In this relation it is interesting to note that at a casual tea-party of five that came under the writer’s notice, the respective ages of those present were 82, 81, 81, 77, and 75 years. As a matter of fact, few places can vie with the western surroundings of Neilston, as, for example, Uplawmoor and the Caldwell district, from a health point of view. The climate is genial and mild; the exposure is west and south; and whilst the hill range of Oorkindale and Caldwell Laws and Hartley Hill, shelter it from the north, the woods of Uplawmoor screen it from the east; and the noble forest trees in the policies round the ancient home of the Mures of Caldwell, the old tower on the hill overlooking the delightful scene, and the unsurpassed, if not unparalleled beauty of Loch Libo in the valley below, all contribute to lend a charm and character to the surroundings, that make the general restfulness equally with the health amenities of the locality of the highest order, which, to be fully appreciated, only require to be more widely known.

The prevailing winds in the parish for a large section of the year— generally spoken of as about three-quarters of it—are from the west and south, or some combination of these cardinal directions; but in early spring, there is a good deal of east wind, especially in the eastern parts of the parish, as from Barrhead westward, where it is somewhat confined by the hill ranges north and south of the main valley. The average rainfall, notwithstanding the elevation, is comparatively low in the district. Few things more clearly indicate the direction of the prevailing winds in any locality than the growth of the older trees. They are Nature’s owrn register, over which man can exercise very little control. And it is instructive and important, and no less curious to note in this respect, how the oldest trees on the Kingston and Uplawmoor roads, for example, have their trunks leaning over towards the east, and their largest and most luxurious branches swinging in the same direction, demonstrating in the most obvious manner that, during the long years of their comparatively slow growth, the western or west by south winds have prevailed. The winds that blow directly from the Firth of Clyde and the mountain peaks of Arran, bring with them the invigorating influences of the shore, freed of the excess of saline matter in the journey overland, but still bearing with them the health-giving elements of ozone. In winter the uplands are often covered with snow, which at times attains considerable depth, through drifting, when accompanied with high winds, but it seldom lies for any length of time, and the frost is rarely of such intensity as to do harm to flocks or vegetation.


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