Hall of Clestrain’s Main Drain Unblocked

22 November 2022

The flooded drain

The opened drain

The working scene

As many of us are aware, the main drain from the west side of the moat around The Hall of Clestrain was blocked. Standing water lay at the very heels of John Rae’s home. The ground floor he knew will have been under water, well beneath the pig pens that were placed there in the 1950s. When Highland Park’s Edrington Trust’s volunteers cleared out the moat, we discovered the outlet of the drain. The beautiful sandstone gutter turned at right angles to a small outlet at the base of the dyke that goes round three sides of The Hall.

It was vital for the safety of the Hall to drain this away, so we got Craigie Plant Hire out to unblock it. The power-hose attachment went some way into the blockage and then got completely stuck itself! We got the mechanical digger to excavate down to the drain just on the other side of the moat wall. It soon scraped on the huge capping stones of the drain, which showed it to be on the same scale as the one we discovered on the north side of the Hall.

With buckets and shovels Jimmy Craigie and Jo Sinclair emptied the blocking sludge. Delving further down the drain, the pulled out more. Then shovelling and probing up the drain, something went ‘Glubber, glubber’ and a swift current commenced! The drain was draining. We watched the evil looking flow increase as the moat emptied. We watched water seep from the Hall itself. Several trickles formed at the foundation level and a wee spring fed the flow to the drain.

Jimmy’s hose could be seen to turn sideways where it was lodged in the stonework of the walls. From along the drain it could be yanked out. The men sent their remote camera down the drain. It was long and impressive. The drain actually turned south beyond the field dyke. Where it finally goes to, we do not know, but it is a splendid piece of drain engineering.” 

– President of John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby