House of Water

Place-name:House of Water
Suggested Meaning:farm house on the land of Waterhead
Blaeu Coila (1654):No Entry
OS Name Books (1855-57):House of Water
Location:Ordnance Survey (1894)
Early References
House of Waterhead (1691), House of the Water (1741), Waterhouse (1775), House O’ Water (1888, Newspaper Obit.)

House of Water

The farmhouse attached to Waterhead farm

Map 1 : House of Water and Waterhead | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The House of Water stood on the banks of the River Nith less than a mile downstream from Waterhead, the two farms were connected by a footpath.

Map 2: House of Water | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

It would be reasonable to presume that the name simply reflects the farm house’s proximity to the River Nith, however the Hearth Tax Rolls of the late 17th century [1] show that an earlier form of the name was The House of Waterhead.

People and/or PlaceNo. of hearths
John Hall, Waterhead2
Thomas Hall, there1
The House of Waterhead6

The House of Waterhead was attached to the main farm of Waterhead, tenanted by the Hall family at that time, and was probably home to agricultural labourers and their families. Waterhead farm in turn had taken its name from Waterhead Castle, once the residence of the Cathcarts of Waterhead, owners of the “9 merklands of Waterhead” that stretched along the head-waters of the River Nith from Blackfarding to Lethans Hill near the source of the river [2].

Later baptism records reveal a name change to ‘House of the Water’, the name Waterhead disappearing from view.

  • 1741, March 10 | William, son to Hugh Brown and Janet Baird in House of the Water
  • 1746, June 15 | James, son to Hugh Brown and Agnes Baird in House of the Water

Armstrong Map of Ayrshire (1775) introduces the name Waterhouse and although it also shows the unnamed ruins of Waterhead Castle, it does not show Waterhead farm.

Map 3: Waterhouse (Armstrong 1775) | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Ordnance Survey Name Book (1855-57) entry for House of Water simply reads –

A small farm house on the River Nith occupied by William Kennedy the property of Sir J Cathcart

Sir J Cathcart was Sir John Andrew Cathcart, 5th Baronet of Carleton the proprietor of the Waterhead estate. In later Valuation Rolls the farm and lands of House of Water are paired with Blackfarding [3].

House of Water farm was abandoned in the late 20th century and nothing remains of the building and the landscape greatly changed through opencast operations in what was named the House of Water Surface Mine.

Entrance to House of Water Surface Mine (Robert Guthrie)


[1] The Hearth Tax for Ayrshire 1691, Ayrshire Records Series Volume 1 , Robert H J Urquhart and Rob Close, editors (1998) ; A List of the hearths of the paroch of Cumnock, Old and New.
[2] New Cumnock Place-Name |Waterhead Castle and Waterhead Farm
[3] New Cumnock Place-Name |Blackfarding
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Ordnance Survey (1895) |House of Water
Map 2 | Ordnance Survey (1856) |House of Water
Map 3 | Armstrong Map of Ayrshire (1775) |Waterhouse
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|House of Water
Scotland’s People
Old Parish Records, Births, Marriages, Deaths, Census Records, Valuations Rolls, Wills & Testaments