Healing Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NT 314 735
Archaeology & History
This was one of two medicinal springs that could once be found in old Portobello village. Like its companion Chalybeate Well nearly a mile northwest, in the early 19th century those entrepreneurial types tried fashioning these waters into being a Spa Well. It didn’t really work and the fad passed after just a couple of decades—and soon after the local people had completely lost their water supply here. The best historical account of it is in William Baird’s (1898) magnum opus on Portobello. He told how the well,
“was, at the beginning of the century, situated in a garden near to the main road, where there was a well with drinking cups for the accommodation of visitors, a small sum being charged from those using it. The supply here having in some way become interrupted the spring was neglected for a time. It found vent, however, lower down and nearer to the Promenade at the foot of Joppa Lane. About fifty years ago there was a pretty large open basin, in the centre of which the water bubbled up about half a foot. It was of a red brick colour. Unfortunately on the starting of a pump on the Niddrie Bum to drain the water from the Niddrie coal pits, the supply of water was again interrupted, and this excellent mineral spring, which was strongly impregnated with oxide of iron and sulphate of lime and magnesia, ceased to flow with its former fulness.”
In 1869, the Industrialists dug into the Earth to construct their promenade and, after countless centuries, the waters of this old medicinal well finally died and fell back into the deep Earth…
- Baird, William, Annals of Duddingston and Portobello, Andrew Elliot: Edinburgh 1898.
- Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Edinburgh, TNA: Alva 2017.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian
“People have no grasp over what they do…”