Town Well

History & Heritage
The New Well erected in 1864 by D & A Cowan of Valleyfield Papermill to provide clean drinking water piped from the Silverburn Spring in the Pentlands

About Town Well

In 1864, the open Old Well was replaced by the Valleyfield Papermill owners, Alexander and Duncan Cowan, by a covered New Well with tapped water and a drinking fountain. In response to the outbreak of cholera in Edinburgh, it prevented contamination of drinking water by the open sewers running from nearby privies and butchers. The mill owner Charles Cowan pioneered the use of chlorinated lime (used to bleach paper) to disinfect the interior of polluted homes. Cowan had long used the scallop shell as trademark but in 1904 the Shell Oil Company challenged their unregistered design carved on the well and it had then to be turned upside down.

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