The Moffat Ram Moffat Town :- A Short History of Moffat
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[In Brief...] [Prehistoric Moffat] [The Romans] [Reivers and Armies]
[Roads and Coaches] [Cattle and Other Travellers]
[Drinking the Waters] [Industry and Railways] [Into the Future]

Drinking the Waters :

Moffat Well, tinted card from the early 1900s
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Rachel Whyteford and Doctor Hunter :

The discovery of a sulphurous mineral well by Rachel Whyteford in 1633 lead to the town's growth as a spa. From 1758, a Dr. Hunter improved the access to the Mineral Well, beginning a source of development that lasted into the 1920s. A small well house was built over the spring; the first glass of the water was charged for, subsequent glasses drunk being free. Although the water probably acted as an effective purgative, it is possible that the fresh air of Moffat did the visitors the most good.

Hartfell Well :

The taste of Moffat Well water was both its recommendation and its bane, so it is not surprising that attempts were made to find other waters near the town. In 1748, a local farmer John Williamson discovered the Chalybeate Well of Hartfell Spa about six miles from the centre of the town. Attempts had been made to try to mine copper in the area, but the iron-rich Hartfell waters were to be more successful. Hartfell Spa water, unlike Mineral Well water, could be bottled and still remained effective, a small international market being catered for.

Regular runs were made by coaches up the valley to Hartfell Spa, although it must have been necessary to walk the last part of the journey. Visitors can still go to the Hartfell Spa spring, now protected by a short vaulted tunnel, restored by the Moffat & District Community Council and the Countryside Commission for Scotland (now Scottish Natural Heritage).

Moffat Well with the early pump house. A print of 1755.

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The Baths Hall :

By 1783, the Annandale Arms was providing accommodation for spa visitors. 1827 saw the opening of the Vapour and Mineral Baths to the rear of the Baths Hall (now the Town Hall) which provided the 'Assembly Rooms' needed to provide entertainment to visitors. The Baths

Moffat in 1793. From an old print.

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The Moffat Hydro :

By 1878 the town had the 'Moffat Hydropathic Hotel', which was burnt down in 1921. The immense 'Hydro' had 400 bedrooms and was a considerable local employer. By 1920 the spa period was almost over, some furnishings having to be sold to cover costs. Had it survived both the fire and the Second World War, there is little doubt that the 'Hydro' would have attracted many visitors and been a benefit to the town. The Baths Hall in the High Street still survives as the Town Hall, although the Mineral Well and its 'Long Room' are now regrettably derelict. Hartfell Well is now visited only by the occasional walker.

Moffat Hydro in 1920.

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All text and images © 1999 Richard Edkins of Dalbeattie Internet.
Moffat Town Website started 9th June 1999.
Last updated 16th December 1999.