OFF THE BEATEN PATH
The Netherbow Wellhead
Sir William Bruce (1630-1716) was the first baronet of Kinross and has been regarded by some as the founder of classical architecture in Scotland. He played a role in the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1659. As a result he was named “Surveyor General of the King's Works in Scotland”. He was in effect the "king's architect".
He remodeled many houses including the Duke of Lauderdale’s Thirlestane Castle and Prestonfield House. He worked on own mansion at Kinrosss which was done on the Palladian style of Venetian architecture. In the 1670’s, he also undertook the rebuilding of the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse which gave the palace the look it has today.
After the death of Charles II his political power waned dramatically. He was often jailed as a suspected Jacobite, and died shortly after being released from having been imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle.
One of his less recognized works, is a cistern found along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh near the John Knox House. The original was built around 1675 by Robert Mylne, the King’s Master Mason. The cisterns provided water for the people of the old town. The sign reads:
This wellhead or cistern, is the oldest of the surviving cisterns designed by Sir William Bruce, Surveyor of the Royal Works, and first built by Robert Mylne, Kings Master Mason around 1675. It has since been rebuilt.
The Cisterns provided water from Comiston Springs via the Castlehill Reservoir for the Inhabitants of the Old Town,
The Netherhead Wellhead was repaired and restored to use with a basin and running drinking water by the Edinburgh Old Town Renewal Trust and Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Limited in 1997.