Public Wells & Fountains (13) Laurieston

Tammy Mill’s Well

This well was so named, it would appear, from the circumstance that an old infirm man belonging to the village, called Thomas Mills or Milns, used to sit with his wooden cup at the spring at the top of Toll Brae and served out to the weary passers-by the cooling and refreshing draught for any small pittance they in their generosity might think proper to give him.

A feu contract by the Right Honourable Francis Lord Napier in favour of Alexander Cowie, Brewer, at New Merchiston (now Laurieston), of a piece of ground lying to the north of Mary Street dated 7 August 1768 contained the following clause:

Providing also that the said Alexr. Cowie and his foresaids have the Liberty of the water of Tammy Milns Well in common with said Lord Napier’s other vassals  at New Merchiston.” 

Even as late as 1900 anyone building a new property in Laurieston was granted the privilege of drawing water from Tammy Mills’ Well (Love 1908). After the lands of Laurieston passed into the hands of Sir Laurence Dundas he took advantage the copious supply of pure water and built a reservoir over the spring so that it could be conveyed to Kerse House by means of leaden pipes.  Amongst those who took water from Tammy Mills Well in the 1850s was a young boy named William Gibb who later became a famous painter.  Tammy Mills’ Well was closed c1907 by the County Council owing to contamination of the water (Love 1908)

Mary Square Fountain

Illus: The Trough can be seen on the kerb on the left.

In 1912 the Marquis of Zetland provided a horse trough for Laurieston Square.  The trough was 6ft long by 2ft broad and 2ft 4ins high.  A drinking fountain sat on the top in the centre, having two push-in taps and galvanised iron cups and chains.  In the base was a dog trough.

(NS 9104 7947)

Cross Well

Located at the Square, the water from this was not considered as good as that from Tammy Mills Well.  In 1894 it was linked with an outbreak of enteric fever.

(NS 9101 7947)

Icehouse Well

This may have been the icehouse belonging to the Kerse estate which stood on the Icehouse Brae. After abandonment the structure would have flooded, becoming a source of water. In the 1850s the schoolboys at Laurieston School in the Square would fetch cans of soft water from the Icehouse Well for the headmaster to wash his clothes (Love 1925).

(NS 914 797)

G.B. Bailey, 2022