Healing Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NS 5619 6654
Archaeology & History
Along the B808, between Beith Street and Byres Road, where it meets the main Dumbarton Road, the memory of Cooper’s Well is preserved in the street-name. It was one of more than a dozen springs in the area, but was one of the most renowned by local people.
Although not shown on the early OS-maps, thankfully the local historian and folklorist—and early environmentalist, it must be said!—James Napier (1873), gave a good account of it in his excellent work on the traditions of the area:
“Cooper’s Well was situated on the side of the road at the north-west end of Well Street, at the corner of where the Gas-work wall now is. It was about three feet deep, and had two steps leading down to the water from the road. Two sides and back were walled up higher than the road, and covered with a stone slab. It was celebrated in the neighbourhood as a drinking water, being strongly chalybeate, and therefore could not be used for cooking purposes. Although shallow, it was never frozen during winter (so that it must have come from a considerable depth), and it was cold in summer. On a warm summer Sunday evening we have seen people, not only from all parts of the village, but from the gentle houses in the neighbourhood, carrying water from the Cooper’s Well to drink. It is from this well the street has its name. The Gas-work dried up the well. There was a story current of some Glasgow people who were visiting at Mr. Sharp’s of Horslethill. Mrs. Sharp had been baking some oatcakes with butter or dripping in them, which caused them to be very fine and short. The Glasgow gentlemen were anxious to know how they were baked, and were told that they were baked with the Cooper’s Well water, some of which they had got a drink of. Shortly after some of the gentlemen sent out their servants to Partick for a supply of the water, but the servants could not succeed in making the cakes so nice as those got from Mrs Sharp. For long after this, butter-cakes were known in and around Partick as Cooper’s Well bread.”
I have to admit I’ve not visited this site, but presume that all trace of the site has disappeared.
- Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Glasgow, TNA 2017.
- Napier, James, Notes and Reminiscences Relating to Partick, Hugh Hopkins: Glasgow 1873.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian