IN AUGUST 1867, James Moir, the factor for Walter Erskine, the Earl of Mar and Kellie, delivered a letter to the Burgh Commissioners about the stench emanating from Alloa Burn which ran through the Earl's grounds at Alloa Park.

He wrote that the part of it that ran by his new high wall was 'very disagreeable' so had gone to inspect it to see if there was any effluent entering it there from the local Carsebridge Distillery or woollen mills.

He found 'not only grain but wool stuffs running down the burn above Gaberston Dam'.

He was not the only one to complain.

Around 45 inhabitants in the Shillinghill area of the town who lived near the burn had presented a petition to the Burgh Commissioners about the stench, and the state of the burn.

However, Carsebridge was out-with the burgh so all they could do was speak to the manager Mr Harvey about a resolution.

Two years later in the summer of 1869, the heat caused the stench to return, and locals and the Earl were once more up in arms about it.

Work had been undertaken to relieve the burn of effluent flowing from the local factories and distilleries, but that year, the smell emanating from it became intolerable.

The Earl was so incensed that he wrote a letter not only complaining of the horrific smell but also that he would be taking action against any authority in the area who may have been liable for the continued pollution of the water.

As a result of his strongly worded letter, several of the Burgh Commissioners visited and inspected the Carsebridge Distillery, and the factories at Keilersbrae, Gaberston and Springfield.

The distillery was carefully inspected but the owners, the Balds, satisfied the commissioners that their waste, which was sent down to the River Forth, was not the cause of the stink, as they had spent a lot of money on upgrading their system and their effluent pipe.

However, the company was not completely exonerated.

It was believed that refuse from the overflow at the distillery was entering the burn.

It was also concluded that wastewater from the woollen mills played a part, along with human faeces evacuated into the burn from various places across the town.

The companies involved were told to clean up their acts and soon the burn, although it still smelled, was better than it had been.

It still took years before any real action was taken to clean it up.