Glasgow Aqueducts

Glasgow was rapidly growing in the early 19th century due to the industrial revolution. It had certainly outgrown its water supply – most of it still came from an 1807 scheme using the river Clyde as a source however the quality of water from the Clyde was declining and outbreaks of cholera were common. This is a study of the history of the aqueducts that supply water to the city of Glasgow and how it is currently treated in the city.

John Frederick Bateman was already famous for designing Manchester’s water supply system. He suggested raising the level of Loch Katrine, an 8 mile long freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands, to provide an abundant supply of water to the city.

Glasgow council approved the scheme and construction began in 1855. The ambitious project included reservoirs, nearly 26 miles of aqueduct, 13 miles of hard rock tunnels and almost 4 miles of iron pipes.Today, Bateman’s scheme including extensions and modernisations still provides Glasgow with water. The first 41.5km stretch ran from Loch Katrine to Mugdock reservoir with engineers adapting the route to its surroundings. A challenging landscape saw an initial 14.5km of aqueduct followed by 21km of tunnel dug through hard rock near Ben Lomond. The final 6km of this first stretch carried the water across bridges built over river valleys. The second stretch of the aqueduct saw Bateman and his team laying 13km of twin cast iron pipes from Mugdock reservoir to Glasgow. Bateman built 25 iron and masonry aqueduct bridges up to 24m high along the route. He used cast iron siphon pipes to carry the water, with a fall of 947mm per km (1 in 1,056).

The Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership brings together local authorities, the ports authority, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Water to deliver integrated improvements to the city’s water environment. This £250 million strategic plan’s aim is to focus on the waste water and surface water drainage to reduce the risk of flooding and pollution to the city and substantially improve urban watercourses – improving the quality of life for people in Glasgow and allowing the city to grow and prosper.


Key Themes: Land-use, Weather, Well-being