Yobs leave wellhouse in danger

Comiston Wellhouse provided the Capital's first piped water supply
Comiston Wellhouse provided the Capital's first piped water supply
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A HISTORIC 17th-century wellhouse which provided the Capital’s first piped water supply is at risk following a spate of vandal attacks.

Comiston Wellhouse has been targeted by graffiti vandals and its roof has also been damaged, leading to structural degeneration.

It is believed that yobs have even tried to set fires at the small stone bothy, which was built in 1674.

The building was renovated five years ago and hundreds of visitors flooded through its doors during two open days in 2009.

Since then, the old wellhouse has again fallen into a state of disrepair, with councillors and community groups calling on Scottish Water, which is responsible for the building, to act before it is too late.

Councillor Eric Barry, who represents the Colinton and Fairmilehead ward on Edinburgh City Council, claimed Scottish Water had been aware of the problems for two years but was yet to carry out repairs.

He said: “It’s been a continual problem. These vandals seem determined to destroy anything that’s nice.

“It really needs someone to fix the roof. The longer it goes on, the worse it’s going to get.”

Various springs were collected at Comiston Wellhouse and water was piped to the Royal Mile and a small reservoir at Edinburgh Castle.

The innovation vastly improved the health of the Capital’s population.

The water supply – distributed down closes and wynds along the High Street – became known as the “sweet water”, as it was not riddled with disease.

The wellhouse is said to have been popular with writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who apparently walked by it frequently.

Cllr Barry’s fellow ward councillors, Elaine Aitken and Jason Rust, spoke about the significance of the 338-year-old building and backed calls for it to be saved.

Cllr Aitken said: “It’s in a sorry state. It has been vandalised and slates are coming off the roof.

“It’s a very important part of the history of our city and a very important part of the area.”

Cllr Rust added: “Given its great history, the condition of the wellhouse is a cause of concern locally and discussions are under way with Scottish Water.

“If left too long, the problems will become all the greater.”

Plans are in place for a new bin next to the wellhouse and a fence could also be built around it. Other historic wellhouses in the area could also be renovated.

Comiston Wellhouse was officially recognised as a building of historical significance in 2008, when a bronze plaque was unveiled.

Bill Elliot, Scottish Water’s regional community manager, said: “We recognise the historical significance of Comiston Wellhouse and will be commencing a programme of repairs and removing graffiti in the near future.”