Milngavie Reservoir (MR) is designated a Category A listed building i.e. buildings of national or international importance and historic interest offering its many visitors uninterrupted vistas across the city and surrounding countryside/green space. Planning legislation recognises the need to protect the setting of our national assets including Milngavie Reservoir that feature in Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) National Inventory of Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes.
DEFRA describes Victorian Parkland (1820 – WW1) as ‘made up of a series of features which contribute to its character, including the pattern of woodlands and trees, avenues, main drives, water features, buildings and structures. The presence and relationship between these features combine to form parkland; they all contribute to the unique character of individual sites, whilst also forming a landscape that is instantly recognizable as a park’.
Milngavie Reservoir is an example of a Victorian parkland made up of a series of features that includes the buildings referred to as Barrachan and is contribution to its overall character and sense of place is acknowledged in its inclusion in HES’s Listed Building assessment of this site.
There's been a farm of some description in the area of Barrachan for centuries but the group of buildings now sitting on land between Mugdock and Craigmaddie Reservoirs were originally a 19th century farmhouse and steadings even before Mugdock reservoir was built by Glasgow Corporation in the 1850s and the later Craigmaddie Reservoir along with other structures. The 'steading' has two blocks, a 'workshop' type building and outbuilding.
There’s also woodland to the west and former parkland to the south, which are neglected.
The architectural importance of Barrachan and its overall contribution to the character and ‘sense of place’ of Milngavie Reservoir is reflected in its inclusion in HES’s Listed Building assessment.
The driveway within this formal landscaped park passes through the designed landscape with careful planting design and although overgrown and neglected, offers visitors composed views and framed focal points along this route which culminate with the grand reveal of Barrachan House and its outbuildings. The approaches and views are considered together as they work very closely in tandem.
Scottish Water (SW) has admitted it has neglected the maintenance of the Reservoir for some time, one important site being the repair and maintenance of Barrachan House, Cottages and Outbuildings.
A Conservation and Recreation Management Plan was prepared for Scottish Water in 2005 and a preliminary inspection by a Conservation Engineer at the time revealed that the Barrachan buildings were in a stable, sound condition with no evidence of significant structural problems.
Minor settlement possibly associated with drainage defects was identified and the need for roof repairs was noted as a priority item in order to prevent the onset of rot. Despite water ingress to the Cottage, the roof structure appeared sound with no tell-tale evidence of deflections in the roofline or ceilings.
It was concluded that these residential buildings were readily repairable and adaptable without major structural repairs.
Unfortunately, since the date of that Report (2006) Scottish Water has made no efforts to address the repair and maintenance issues identified. The buildings have frequently been occupied by youths congregating there, lighting fires, drinking alcohol, applying graffiti and vandalising the properties internally despite SW having erected shutters to the window and door openings.
This vandalism ceased only when CCTV cameras and security patrols were introduced as a result of pressure from the Friends of Milngavie Reservoir.
However, by then the damage was done and, at no time, has SW showed willing to repair the damage to the roof coverings to try and conserve the buildings and to minimise water ingress to the interiors and structure. This despite the buildings being classified as Category A listing.
More recently SW has indicated it wished to sell the buildings on the open market but this plan has been compromised by a lack of an access road to the property.
It is suspected that SW, having no use for the property, has purposely allowed it to deteriorate in order to justify its demolition.
DEFRA considers all parkland features, including farm homes and outbuildings, contribute to its sense of place and history and should be restored.
FoMR is firmly of the view that SW should put greater effort into obtaining agreements from the landowners for the right to form an access off the new WTW road to serve Barrachan, which is essential before it can be placed on the market. Rather than allow the buildings to further deteriorate, we believe SW has an obligation to carry out repairs to this listed structure to return it to a state, which would make it a more attractive prospect to a potential buyer.
We will put further pressure on SW to resolve the Barrachan issue rather than adopting a “do-nothing” approach which will inevitably lead to these potentially valuable buildings being left to deteriorate even more and possibly lost forever. We would like to see the Barrachan buildings restored to reflect their original design around the courtyard setting. Given a positive attitude, they offer immense opportunities to enhance the amenity of the whole reservoir area and could be used for a variety of purposes such as housing, holiday accommodation, outdoor education or visitor centre.
Reference material: DEFRA report ‘Environmental Stewardship & Historic Parklands’ (2013)