Folk have flocked to Lanark Loch since 1880s
Lanark Loch has been one of the town’s most popular attractions for many years.
Seeing visitor numbers increasing in recent times has led me to reflect on the history of this lovely spot.
Originally called Lanark Lake, it was one of two leisure facilities offering boating. The other was the Lang Loch, near Clydesdale Community Initiatives which had a brief history; its demise by 1910 was accelerated by sand and gravel extraction.
Lanark Loch/Lanark Lake had a third name as it was originally developed to give Lanark an adequate water supply. In the 19th century Lanark’s growth resulted in the water shortage as the wells began to dry up.
Typhoid and cholera were two problems relating to the lack of proper sewage facilities. The architect Hugh Marr came to the rescue of the people of Lanark. Out of what was a marshy area he created a loch which supplied Lanark with 125,000 gallons of water a year. At that time, it was called Marr’s Loch – a name it retained for about 40 years or so.
A new supply of water was created at Lochlyoch on the side of Tinto in the 1880s and Lanark Loch then became a leisure attraction.
One of the most interesting experiences on Lanark Lake, as it was known up to 1914, was the steam launch. In use for ten years from the early 1900s to shortly before World War One, it was very popular with visitors.
Rowing boats were in evidence until the 1990s, disappearing when Lanark Loch had to be drained because of floating islands of peat.
Eventually they were operated by the council, as were the public toilets which disappeared in 2012. Many felt this was a backward step.
The Inn on the Loch has a long history going back over 100 years being a hotel, tea room and now a restaurant. There was also a kiosk for drinks, sweets and snack for 40 years. A small café combined with a miniature golf course replaced it.
There was also a dance hall near the Loch, popular with young people in the pre-disco era. By the 1960s it had fallen out of fashion.
After World War Two play equipment was introduced. When it reached the end of its life, Lanark Loch Playgroup was formed to raise funds for new equipment.
No account of Lanark Loch should omit the beautiful swans and ducks which are great favourites with the visitors. Quite how they came to the Loch in the first place is a mystery; perhaps they, like the visitors, decided it was the place to be!