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'Mannie' Well

Irvine's view of Castle Street - 1812 with the New Inn centre and the Castle Gate Well to the Right seemingly foreshortened in its width by the Artist but noting its function as a popular meeting place.  Mannie Statue by William Lindsay a goldsmith who was in charge of the City's Water at the time.

William Lindsay, circa 1710. Former wellhead (no longer functioning) re-located from East-end of the Castlegate, surmounted by small semi-nude male lead figure. Square-plan with ogee cap.  Coursed Sandstone. Base course, deep cornice. Carved stone 'green-man' type antique heads forming spouts at each corner of cap. Small carved lions head spout and wrought iron lamp bracket to East face. Cast-iron hinged door opening to West face with the City Coat of Arms.  Situated originally at the East End of the Castlegate, this water cistern was the 1st to provide piped water to the City. It is an important part of the City's Engineering and Social history and forms a significant part of the streetscape. The Well was originally to have a number of gilt figures but the cost of £1,571 proved too much and a single figure, locally know as 'The Mannie' was erected.  On special days, the carved heads at the corners spouted water.  The Well was fed by springs from Cardensheugh (now Carden Place) to the West of the city, and the water was brought by 6 lead pipes to the well. Previous to this, the city had been supplied by water from local Lochs, Burns and Ancient Wells.  The cistern was moved to The Green in 1852 where a handle on the side of the plinth could be turned to provide spring or River water. The Well remained at the Green until 1973 when it was moved to its current position, back in Castle Street. 

The Mannie is the only example of leaden sculpture in the city. In 1706 work began on laying lead water pipes from outside the city to a new fountain in the Castlegate. The statue itself was added to the top of the fountain some time after 1710. A wooden statue had originally been planned but the carver never executed the work and so a lead sculpture was erected.

From 1708 until 1852, the Castlegate Well was a central part of the Burgh’s water supply.  In the late 18th century a lead figure, commonly known as the Mannie, was added to the top of the well. The Mannie and Well were moved to the Green  and then returned to the Castle Street in 1973 next to the Check-raw (cobbled surface nearby)

On days of rejoicing the Mannie would spout water no doubt from his left hand as did the 4 'Antique' heads on the corners.  The purpose of the bracket at the front was the remainder of a gas Lamp frame to furnish light above the fountain.  The much altered old Fountain Front was as a result of various fonts, one a matching head similar to the corner fountainheads.


The Fountain -  Originally built 1708 in the Castlegate by William Lindsay, Overseer of Aberdeen's Water Supply.

Taken down in 1841 when the Market Cross was moved further East. Re-erected in 'The Green' 1852 and then re-erected in Castle Street in 1972/3 in a more westerly location.  The Butter Fair at the Mannie on the Green; c1885

Oh, Ancient "Mannie," still dost thou preside
Above the truck and chaffer of the "Green,"
Have pity on thy sister, for the tide

Is at her lips, and she must perish e'en

 The Green - later in its history - the 'Mannie In the Green' which was a water fountain marking an earlier Ancient Well site was generally covered in green algae due to its fountain spillage and relatively dark location with the penetrating sun being blocked by high buildings on 3 sides.  It was eventually returned to Castle Street

Is it destined to be decamped again to the Duthie Park like so many of our past Street Monuments by Municipal planners ever toying with our street squares to suit their transient whims.

In this picture the sandstone surface appears to have been damaged, perhaps by a swinging cast iron cup on an adjacent hook but now missing - or removed.  The much often modified or replaced fountain head didna help..

John Falconer's - Well Groomed Horse stands by the 'Mannie' Well looking East

This much moved and yet much loved Fiscal Furniture has been re-sited like a pawn piece in various Market areas throughout its life from the Castlegate to the Green  and this location may have been its longest residence before being returned to another more 'convenient' site on Castle Street

It seems to show peripheral use as a urinal looking at the stains on the sides.  John McBain's Green Dairy and Tea Room trades at No.37 on the corner of Correction (House) Wynd and seems to have just taken a delivery of Aberdeen Rowies from the lad with a Bakers tray on his head.  Cadbury's Chocolate and Lyons Tea are advertised. 

A Bicycle leans against the shop front and a Hand Cart and Wheel Barrow are parked no doubt by customers.  Another bicycle stands on the kerbside behind the Mannie.  The much altered fountain appears to flow unrestricted or the tap mechanism has been jammed open and liberally inundates the paving slabs and cassies. 

The lamp bracket has long since lost its lamp.  Little sunshine penetrated this ravine of a street.


The inhabitants were originally supplied with water from Wells sunk in various parts of the town, and from a large cistern in the Water House in Broad Street, containing more than 30,000 gallons; but the quantity being found inadequate to the increasing population, works were constructed by commissioners for bringing a supply from the River Dee, and steam-engines erected at the north end of the old Bridge of Dee, to which the water is conveyed by a tunnel about 500 yards in length, into which it enters, not directly from the river, but after passing through a filtering bed of sand.  The engines, of which there are 2, of 30-horse power each, can raise, in 24 hours, a supply of 1.1 Million gallons of water, thence forced into a new Cistern House at the west end of the then Union Place, which has an elevation of 40 feet above the level of the street, and 130 feet above that of the engine, and from which the water is distributed through the city by cast-iron pipes.

Easy Parking on a non market day and ready water from the added Wallie (Water Hydrant) at the Mannie in the green C1937

The bridging walk with the arched and partly open window was the corridor access to the upper level of the New Market near its bow end from a Union Street entrance with a flight of stairs at its end leading to the the Stamp Collectors Shop.  The original well spout and trough appear to have been removed in favour of the Street Lion Hydrant.  A welcome human and animal drinking feature of Aberdeen streets till the 50's.

The Ancient wrought Iron Lamp Bracket and frame hang over the repaired location of original fountain trough.  An ornate 'C Little' - Cafe window dominated the corner of the Union Street building selling its facility which could be accessed from the flight of steps on the North side of Union Street from Correction Wynd.

The Cast iron frame bridge with arched window above was a walkway access from Union Street to the upper floor of the New Market passing a coin slot machine which would animate a Fire Brigade's 1st Floor Ladder Rescue scene for the wide eyed bairn's to marvel at for the price of a penny.  The access below leads to a steep ascent Carnegie Brae/Netherkirkgate  and the Cold Storage vaults

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Last modified: 01/09/2013