Loch Katrine Aqueduct
On 14th October 1859 Queen Victoria, accompanied by the Prince Consort, Princess Alice and Princess Helena visited Loch Katrine to open a new aqueduct.
The aqueduct takes water by gravity from Loch Katrine to the Milngavie and Balmore water treatment works before it is supplied to around 1.3 million people across Greater Glasgow and west central Scotland.
This Victorian megastructure is regarded as one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering of its day and helped to transform the health of citizens, giving them clean water. The aqueduct continues in full use 160 years on.
The special anniversary of the royal opening was marked, exactly 160 years to the day, with a series of special sailings on the Sir Walter Scott Steamship and Lady of the Lake cruise boats. Joining passengers on board were actors playing the parts of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, along with members of Gartmore Theatre Company, dressed in Victorian costumes.
After arriving at Stronachlachar Pier on the steamship the actors made the short journey to Royal Cottage, adjacent to the aqueduct. Access to the aqueduct and Royal Cottage is not available to the public, special acesss to mark the anniversary were kindly provided to the actors and invited guests by Scottish Water.
Back in 1859 the Royal Cottage would have accommodated the royal family during their visit, had the volume of the 21-gun salute tribute to Queen Victoria not resulted in all of the windows smashing!
The visit of Queen Victoria in 1859 drew large crowds. So many in fact, that the carriages and coaches couldn’t cope. As a result, many people walked across the hills putting up with terrible weather to reach the site of the opening, close to the southern end of Loch Katrine.
Exactly 160 years n the actor portraying Queen Victoria recreated the historic scene at the aqueduct by reading a passage from the original speech:
“It is with much gratification that I avail myself of this opportunity of inaugurating a work which, both in its conception and its execution, reflects so much credit on its promoters, and is so calculated to improve the health and comfort of your vast population, which is rapidly increasing round the great centre of manufacturing industry in Scotland.
Such work is worthy of the enterprise and philanthropy of Glasgow and I trust it will be blessed with complete success. I desire that you convey to the great community which you represent my warmest wishes for their continued prosperity and happiness.”
The royal party had travelled on steamship Rob Roy 2, the predecessor to the Sir Walter Scott Steamship. The current steamship, that has been sailing on the loch for nearly 120 years was named after Scott, the famous Victorian writer who set his 1810 poem Lady of the Lake and 1818 novel Rob Roy, around Loch Katrine.
Due to the terrible weather on the day of the opening Queen Victoria didn’t see Loch Katrine at its best during that visit. Luckily, she came back a decade later, when conditions were much more favourable.
The Katrine Aqueduct
The Katrine Aqueduct comprises two aqueducts that are 34 and 23.5 miles in length from the loch to Milngavie north of Glasgow, which together provide up to 50 million gallons of water every day.
The first was built to give Glasgow a proper water supply and tackle cholera and includes tunnels through mountainous terrain in the shadow of Ben Lomond and bridges over river valleys. The second was constructed to accommodate the rapid expansion of Glasgow, the ‘second city of the Empire’, in the late 19th century.
The entire Katrine Aqueduct scheme cost £3.2m to build, which would be about £320m in today’s prices.
It currently supplies about 110 million gallons of water per day to the two water treatment works and it takes the water about 14 hours to travel along the aqueduct from Loch Katrine to the water treatment works.
The effect that the aqueduct had on the city of Glasgow are difficult to overstate. This new system that delivered fresh water from Loch Katrine replaced the need to draw water from wells and streams, a significant improvement for the health of the residents of Scotland’s largest city.
Kelvingrove Park Fountain
An impressive Gothic fountain was erected in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow in 1871. The fountain pays tribute to Robert Stewart the driving force of the project. The fountain is carved with scenes that represent the Trossachs and the writing of Sir Walter Scott. It was restored for the 150th anniversary 10 years ago with additional features added to commemorate that milestone.
On this website you can read a number of features about Loch Katrine and its very special steamship, which in 2020 will celebrate 120 years of sailing on Loch Katrine.
Joining the actors for the commemorations at Stronachlachar was Dalmore, a steam tug that is berthed at Trossachs Pier. The actors enjoyed a short sail onboard Dalmore, before heading back to Trossachs Pier on the Lady of the Lake.
This article and accompanying photographs are by Paul Saunders for See Loch Lomond. Visit Paul’s other websites, Paul Saunders Marketing & Paul Saunders Photography, for his marketing, photography & video services in Loch Lomond and beyond.
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