GARTMORN DAM was around 60 years old when engineer George Sorocold’s suggestion of hydraulic pumps were finally installed at Sauchie to extract water from the Mar collieries.

Engineer John Smeaton was consulted on their installation and was asked how to improve the transportation of the coal extracted from the mines.

In 1820, John Erskine, the 7th Earl of Mar, gave a grant of water from Gartmorn Dam to Alloa, so wooden pipes were put in place but under the pressure of it, the banking was giving way.

Under an agreement, the feuars in Alloa had to help repair any damage to the dam-head of Gartmorn.

By the 1860s the dam was powering three colliery pit engines and 11 waterwheels at various mills in Alloa.

However, it was during that decade that the reservoir was solely used to supply domestic water.

In 1877, filter beds and a water house were built at Jellyholm, although the water house has since been demolished. Alloa’s population boomed and in the later 19th century, the reservoir ran dry.

Then in 1894, a stone face was constructed at the dam and water levels were raised once more but the dam generated low water pressure, which had to increase to meet daytime demand.

In 1928, an electric pumping system was installed at nearby Carsebridge to deal with the issue.

The lade at Forestmill was cut off following contamination during open cast mining operations in the late 20th century. Clay particles blocked the filtration system and meant Gartmorn reservoir could no long supply clean water.

The dam is now owned by Scottish Water, who in May 2013 invested £440,000 to maintain it.

The major works were to penstocks at the spillway which would be opened to take the pressure off the dam should it reach capacity therefore reducing the risk of flooding.

The dam was drained while the work was carried out and exposed the carcasses of fish, as well as many shells.

Although it does not supply Alloa anymore, it does supply local troughs at the nearby Jellyholm Farm.

The 370-acre site at Gartmorn Dam, once described in the 19th century as ‘romantic,’ was established as a country park in 1982 and remains Clackmannanshire’s only one. It has a network of paths and is used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

It was designated a Site of Scientific Interest in 1972 and is an important habitat for migrating winter wildfowl.

Birds live here all year round and breeding takes place during the summer months.

The park opens at 8.30 every day and closes at dusk.