Water, tea and coffee in Olde Glasgow

FRESH water in Glasgow originally came from a number of wells.

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One, in Trongate, had two spouts, but only one was used.

Despite the fact that both spouts drew from the same source, locals fervently believed that drinking from the 'bad' spout would result in instant death.

The clear water of the Borgie well in Cambuslang was supposed to addle the wits. This, at least, was the story told to visitors by locals who drank from it daily!

It soon became obvious, however, that the overworked and increasingly polluted wells could not meet the city's needs.

In 1859 a massive engineering project brought fresh water from Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, giving Glasgow what was then the finest urban water supply in the country, if not the world.

Other reservoirs have been brought into service.

Several water-storage towers dominate several parts in and around the city, including Bishopbriggs and Drumchapel.

Glasgow's first coffee shop was opened at the corner of Trongate and Saltmarket by Colonel Walter Whiteford in 1678.

The city's problems with drunkenness led to attempts to promote alternatives, though the pubs saw them as a serious threat to their business.

In 1890, the Victualling Trades Review condemned the scourge of 'coffee drunkenness', an abominable condition, it said.

The only cure was – not surprisingly – a nip of brandy, as provided by your kindly local publican.

The Tontine Coffee Rooms in Trongate was a favourite haunt of wealthy merchants in Glasgow. The hotel it was part of was said to be the first in the city.

Establishments such as Miss Cranston's Willow Tea Rooms were started so that women (and men) could meet socially without having to consume alcohol.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Willow Tea Rooms, in Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street, remains one of the best-known.

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