Public Wells & Fountains (12) Larbert & Stenhousemuir

Lady Well

The ancient well that served Larbert stood just to the south of the Cross and was known as the Lady Well.  It was a spring well and it would seem that in the middle of the 18th century a Well Committee was formed to construct a substantial stone well-head. 

Illus: Larbert Cross looking south with the Lady Well on the left side of the road.

The body of the new well was cylindrical and terminated in a conical top surmounted by an urn-shaped vase.  Inside was a deep reservoir and an iron door on the side gave access for inspection.  A long pump handle and spout fronted the road.  The overflow from the well flowed southward to the Laigh Town and into the River Carron – and this was known as the Wellstrand. 

The Larbert Fair was held each year at the Cross of Larbert, near the Lady Well.  There were the usual accompaniment of stalls and other adjuncts. The cattle sometimes reached as far down the village as the Free Church Manse, and on the west to the old Manse of Larbert. To the north it was quite common to see cattle as far north, as the present Pretoria Road.  The last date of Larbert Fair would be in 1879.

In 1888 a fine gas lamp was affixed to the apex of the Lady Well.  This was part of a scheme of lighting paid for by Mr Graham of Larbert House which saw lamps extending all of the way from Larbert Station to the entrance to the parish church.

There were only three wells in Larbert in 1890 and it was intended to increase that number using water from the newly installed pipes of the Falkirk and Larbert Water Trust.  The Lady Well was also to be connected to the main.  Progress was slow and in expectation maintenance of the Lady Well ceased.  Inevitably the pump stopped functioning and so the iron door in the side was taken off and the water drawn out in buckets by means of ropes.  The result was that rubbish and detritus got inside the well (Falkirk Herald 13 August 1890, 5).  That September, the Lady Well was put into a proper condition.  A new and modern pump was erected immediately in front of the place from where the old handle and spout had protruded.  New piping led into the interior of the circular building, the door of which was closed up.  The work was carried out by Mr Brown, plumber.  A horse trough was installed adjacent to the well in 1896.  The old well was only removed around 1905 (Love 1910).

(SMR 1962) – NS 8567 8227

Little Well

With the coming of the Carron Company in 1759 the population of the village grew considerably and sometime in the mid nineteenth century the villagers subscribed to carry water to a well opposite the Post Office and this became known as the Little Well.  The Larbert Well Committee carried out the work.  The well stood with its back to the roadside dyke and the overflow from it was carried through to a trough for horses.  It served to good effect until 1881 when the Local Authority laid a drain from the corner of Frew’s public house to take away surface sewage.  Water from this drain then polluted the well.  Above the drain the water in the aqueduct to the well was still pure and so it was clearly the drain that had caused the problem.  Despite repeated complaints, the Parochial Council refused to take action saying that as the well was private it had no remit.  The lack of the well was particularly felt in the droughts experienced that decade.

The Point, Stenhousemuir

The street lights presented in 1888 by Mr Graham of Larbert House from Larbert Cross to Larbert Station were extended into Stenhousemuir by public subscription in 1891 by the addition of a further 72 lamps and these were further augmented in 1895.  On this latter occasion it was decided that the lamp standard at the Point in front of the Plough Hotel should be more elaborate than the others because of its prominent position and further funds were collected from the Stenhousemuir area.  The triangle of land was used for band performances and that same year the publican, Mrs Aitken, had erected a flagpole at the apex. 

Illus: The Point, Stenhousemuir, c1900.

On 2 April a cast iron fountain-lamp made in Larbert was inaugurated.  The manufacturer was Dobbie, Forbes & Co.  It is not known when it was removed but it appears to have been around 1930.

(NS 8682 8291)

G.B. Bailey, 2022