IT’S a feat of Victorian engineering which for more than a century has quenched Glasgow’s thirst. 

Now, an ambitious redevelopment of the Katrine Aqueduct has been welcomed ... by the great-granddaughter of a man who helped to build it. 

Alison Kerr’s ancestor James Savage was one of 3000 tradesmen who transformed the Trossachs when a second waterway was built to cope with the rapid growth of Glasgow in the late 19th century. 

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A first aqueduct, opened in 1859, was unable to meet the rising demands, so a second was developed after 1885. 

Mr Savage, who initially moved to Dumfriesshire from Ireland before heading for Milngavie in around 1881, worked on the second Loch Katrine aqueduct until 1901. 

Speaking to mark Scottish Water’s £20 million upgrade of the megastructures, Ms Kerr said: “It was amazing how the aqueduct was built without the sort of equipment and safety precautions we would have nowadays.

“The fact that it is still operational is a testament to everyone involved in its construction, including my great-grandfather, and it’s good to hear of the completion of this recent improvement work by Scottish Water to enable the aqueduct to continue to provide so many people with water.”

After the discovery of old photographs of the construction of the aqueduct were publicised on a television documentary, Ms Kerr, from Troon, contacted Scottish Water to confirm Mr Savage’s involvement in the project. 

She added: “The records show that the family had moved to Sunderland by the 1901 census, where he was an engine fitter and foreman.

Glasgow Times: Project manager David Wilkinson inside the aqueduct during the projectProject manager David Wilkinson inside the aqueduct during the project

“So it would seem that my great-grandfather did manage to move up the work ladder during his time in Milngavie.”

The project to refurbish parts of the two aqueducts, the first 34 miles long and the second 23.5 miles long, will help improve the security of the water supply to millions across Glasgow and Central Scotland

David Wilkinson, Scottish Water’s senior project manager, said: “The Katrine aqueducts, which were part of a scheme opened by Queen Victoria in 1859 to provide Glasgow with its first proper water supply and help tackle disease, were a remarkable feat of engineering of their day. They have stood the test of time and are still performing very well but, despite some improvement work over the years, they required substantial improvement and refurbishment.

“This investment will help ensure we continue to provide a first-class service to customers for many years to come and will help maintain the legacy of our Victorian forefathers.”