Barrhead dams

In 1845 the Gorbals Gravitation Water Company (GGWC) was established in order to provide a clean water supply to the Gorbals and later to other, adjacent areas on the south side of the River Clyde. The Brock Burn was soon identified as a suitable source. Records detail the process of how the area was chosen and difficulties were overcome. The land was obtained from two landowners, Sir Hew Crawford and Sir John Maxwell.

The reservoirs of Waulkmill Glen and Ryat Linn were the first to be built. Records show that the early stages of the process were long and complex. The GGWC was hampered by various issues, including compensation for Sir Hew Crawford and the parliamentary bill that was opposed at all stages by the Glasgow Water Company. Despite this, the reservoirs and associated infrastructure were eventually built. Adverts appeared in the press for ground works associated with the reservoirs in January 1847, and between 1847 and 1848, Waulkmill Glen and Ryat Linn reservoirs were constructed as planned.

Harvey (1848) records between 800 and 1000 men were working in the construction of the water works. The complex also contains two smaller reservoirs (Littleton, named after a farmstead in that area, and Coalhill). The largest water feature, Balgray Reservoir, was built in 1853-1854 and apparently extended in the 1860s. In 1865 these reservoirs started supplying Barrhead. The reservoirs dominate much of the landscape in the southern part of the country park. They have various associated workings, such as the draw-off towers that stand in Balgray and Waulkmill Glen reservoirs and the remains of the filter beds and water courses. The towers are linked to outlets that control the water flow and allow the reservoirs to be drained if necessary. At the top of Waulkmill Glen the line of the Brock Burn was altered to run down a stone-lined waterfall. East of this, running below the road, are the sluice gates and associated buildings through which the water flows rapidly.

The structures were built from shaped and dressed red sandstone blocks, with the sluice gates set into the dam, with an arched façade which faces onto two square ponds through which the water passes. Opposite is a small, hexagonal structure, also related to the control and flow of water (Speller and Taylor 1996). The engineering work required to build the reservoirs and the gravitational water system was immense, and they are an impressive example of Victorian engineering at its best.

When the first Ordnance Survey maps were produced the reservoirs were all completed and are labelled as ‘Gorbals Gravitation Water Works’ (1857, 1:2500 and 1863-68, 1:10560). The first revision of these maps (1896-1899, 1:10560 and 1897, 1:2500) indicates the change in ownership of the reservoirs, which were now labelled ‘Glasgow Corporation Water Works’, the GGWC having ceased to exist.