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June 18th 1825

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Pitkeathly Wells

It was about 1785 when the so called ‘healing wells’ of Pitkeathly, near Bridge of Earn began to be developed commercially. The new owner, John Grant, built a bath house where “water could be dealt out and hot baths furnished.” 

As the years went by, other buildings were erected and Pitkeathly Wells became a popular spa for which many healing properties were claimed. A Dr Horsley even wrote a short treatise on Pitkeathly Mineral Waters. His recommendations included its use as a cure for hiccups, cancer, cholera and epilepsy. But for many, the attractions were as much social as medicinal. The Perth Courier of 1825 could state, “Pitkeathly Spa was never more gay than at present. The hotels are overflowing and the numerous private lodging houses in Bridge of Earn are nearly all occupied. Not withstanding the latest additions to Seaton’s establishment (The Moncrieff Arms, now no longer an hotel but a nursing home) we understand he finds it necessary to enlarge it still further for the great increase in visitors.” 

All through the Victorian era, Pitkeathly Wells continued to flourish. There were baths, tea-rooms, a ladies private room, a smoking room and a reading room. In the extensive grounds there were facilities for playing tennis, bowls and croquet and unrivalled opportunities for social intercourse and meeting members of the opposite sex. Pitkeathly water enjoyed a large sale. It could be supplied at a cost of 6d per gallon and was available in jars at many chemists. It was also sold as far afield as London as the note written on behalf of Sir Arthur Sullivan would indicate. “Please send another twelve dozen more Pitkeathly waters as soon as possible. Sir Arthur thinks it is the most delicious water he ever drank.”  With the discovery and popularity of the seaside holiday Pitkeathly was faced with new competition but still managed to retain a clientele.

Before the first World War, the Wells were leased and later sold to Schweppes who once more expanded operations. In addition to the Spa, a bottling plant was built, employing some thirty people, until in 1927 a disastrous fire put an end to the manufacturing business, though the Spa remained open. As the years went by its popularity dwindled and finally in 1949 the Spa was closed.

Pitkeathly Wells still remains an oasis of quiet set back a little way from the road between Bridge of Earn and Forgandenny. The buildings used by the visitors have been converted into dwelling houses but still retain their period charm. Pitkeathly Well itself is closed but with the present enthusiasm for medicinal waters perhaps it may yet stage a comeback.

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