Investigation of a round brick lined Blue Pool at Torwood near Dunipace and Larbert

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The content of these Blue Water Pool pages have been migrated over to torwoodbluepool.co.uk, and all future updates should be made at the new domain.



Local Mystery

The Torwood Blue Water Pool

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CAN YOU HELP ?
Get onboard the investigation at the comments section below

blue pool

If you have any information, experiences, photographs (ideally with dates)
please send your input by email to nigel@ntgraphics.co.uk

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The questions:

  • What was the function and purpose of the blue pool ?
  • When was it built ?
  • Who built it ?
  • When did it cease to have a purpose ?
  • Where does the water come from and why does the level change ?
  • Did you ever swim in it ?

Go straight to the latest updates

15 April 2010
More pipes found but Archives draw blank so far.

5 January 2010
Water Tank theory abandoned

1 December 2009
Brick Arch and 2nd pipe found

15 October 2009
A few more facts and speculation

New Google map of the area

05 October 2009
Water analyses — Six inch pipe — Roof slates and guttering — Carbrook House and RSNH

31 August 2009
Pool bottom visible

26 August 2009
Brick arched opening confirmed

26 August 2009
Download leaflet for distribution

25 August 2009
Comment on level change and Deductions

23 August 2009
Comments on trees with photos

What we know so far

I first came across the blue pool in 1961 when I was ten years old.
I lived in nearby Dunipace. The pool looked exactly the same then as it does now but I don’t remember there being any trees around it.
MapMy uncle, also a local, remembers it from his youth (late 1930's) and described it as looking just the same.

Heather Livingston from Ontario, Canada.
There were no trees near the pool in 1983. The only trees were across from Torwood castle.
For some reason we always stayed on the side looking towards Torwood castle — smoother land? I remember getting out of the pool the same place as the dogs do — not sure why.
It was always an open area. Only walking on the foot path [right of way path to Denovan, heading south] near the castle were there trees — then it opened up to open fields.

A lifetime later I had forgotten the exact location of the blue pool but rediscovered it in 2007. Most people I speak to refer to it as the Blue Pool. The blue pool had a remarkably vivid blue colour and was crystal clear. It was like looking through a blue diamond and you could see the bottom quite clearly — according to my 45 year old memory.

Heather Livingston from Ontario, Canada.
I do remember the water being clear too and seeing the bottom in 1983. I just remember the debris of trees at the bottom. I never actually swam to the bottom.

Caroline Kerr from Aberdeen, Scotland.
I grew up in Dunipace and visited the blue pool quite often while out walking. I always wondered what it was for. My father said it might be an old airshaft for a mine. I have written in my photo album that the pool is very blue.

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dog at pool

Looking West-ish

blue pool 1979

Looking North-ish

The blue colour, it seems, is not that big a mystery. I wrongly thought that water got its blue colour from reflecting the blue sky but it seems that clear deep water refracts light in such a way that it produces its own blue colour.

If the above is true I would expect to see the same colour in our reservoirs but I have never seen that blue colour anywhere in Scotland other than the Torwood Blue Pool. Are there any water and light-refraction experts out there ?

Could the blue colour have anything to do with dissolved chemicals or minerals ? Nobody who was exposed to the water has reported a desire to put the letter ‘S’ on a T-shirt and leap tall buildings.

If the pool was being fed by an external source of water, I would rather expect the level to be constant but this is not the case.
Is it simply being topped up by rainwater and evaporating during dry spells? Would this make it a ‘stagnant pond’?
If so why is the water so clear and odourless? is the algae and plant life keeping the water clean?

 

Eileen Livingston from Plean, Scotland.
l can say for sure that the pool doesn't just fill up with rain water and then evaporate to change levels. l have been up one day and the level has been about 4 feet (1m) from the top. However, the very next day it was full to the brim. There was no rainfall through the night and even if there had been it would never have been that much! The same thing has happened the other way round (full one day - 1m below the next).

blue Pool also green

This blue is a reflection of the sky (15 April 2007)

 

sampling the blue pool water

Trying to avoid the ugly algae growth

water sample

24 August 2009 Eileen’s information establishes that the level in the pool is not significantly affected by rainfall and can change quite dramatically overnight.
The pool has an internal diameter of 6.1 metres (20 feet).

Let us speculate. If the pool level is changing overnight by one metre or 6,423 gallons (about 200 normal baths at 8 inches of water), I think we can safely assume that the pool has a ‘goesinty’ and a ‘goesooty’ — that’s Scottish engineering talk for inlet and outlet. This is not a stagnant pool.

Some rough numbers — if the pool level recovered by 6,423 gallons in 16 hours, that would indicate an inlet flow of 400 gallons per hour or about 6 gallons per minute — just slightly more than a garden hose at mains pressure. Allowing for a variable outlet flow while the filling is in progress would be stretching my mathematics.

If 6,423 gallons vanish overnight then someone is probably drawing the water off deliberately. It’s hard to imagine a random draw off happening just by chance.

Even when there is no rain to swell streams and possibly raise the water table level, the pool level recovers by 6,423 gallons overnight. This pool is being deliberately filled.

Who is drawing this water off and do they know it is sourced from the Blue Pool and what are they using it for ?

In light of the above, I am leaning towards the pool being an old water storage system that is apparently still in use — I hope none of you swimmers did a pee in it. Where is the water coming from and going to? I hope I am not introducing ‘red herrings’ into the pool inquiry.

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I was shooting video at the pool about a month ago (June 2009) and I would now call it the Black Pool. It did not have that magical blue look that I remembered from years ago and you can no longer see the bottom although a sample of the water showed it to be as clear as the Highland Spring bottled drinking water I had with me.

My memory of the pool was that it was about 4 metres in diameter and about 4 metres deep. I have recently measured it at 6.1 metres (20 feet) internal diameter and 4 metres deep at the centre — from the top brick layer, not the surface of the water. Shallower depths were found nearer the edges, probably accumulated debris.

Because the above memories have proved fairly reliable, I present another memory that I am less confident about. At the bottom of the pool, I remember a small brick arched opening.

  • Could this be the source of the water ?
  • Does anyone else remember this feature ?

26 August 2009 Neil Jardine from Plean, Scotland
I have known about the Blue Pool for over 30 years. The water was aquamarine blue and you could see the bottom very clearly. I remember green stuff on the bottom, probably plants.
There was a brick arched opening near to but not on the bottom. I remember thinking that if you were to swim in there, you might be sucked into that opening. I am fairly sure that the opening was on the south side facing Denovan.

26 August 2009 Thank goodness someone can confirm my memory of the arched brick opening. I remember it as being about 20 inches (50 cm) high and have done an illustration of the general shape. I too remember that it was located around the bottom quarter of the total depth but clear of the bottom.

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satellite photoThe pool is not visible from the nearby path. If you know about it then you either came across it by chance or someone told you where it was. Most locals I have spoken to have never heard of the blue pool.

The pool seems to have vanished under some trees and scrub for a bit. Some people report having gone back years later and not being able to find it. Google’s satellite photographs from a few years ago only showed a slight bump in the tree line but the latest photos show the pool. The trees look like they were cut down in the last ten years or so.

quarry

The pool at this nearby quarry has been described as ‘Blue’
this may be because of deep clear water.
A local dog walker told me this is the lowest level of water she has ever seen in the quarry. There is an old car on the bottom.

brick arched opening

An opening this size would allow a very large flow of water.
Could it be for a filter?

 

.Many people who knew of this magical place used it as a swimming pool. Heather Livingston from Canada makes regular visits to her family in Plean, next to Torwood, and remembers swimming in the ‘Blue Water’ in the summer of 1983.
Her cousin Jane remembers doing the same around that time and several local youths also partook of the Blue Water.

I never swam in the blue pool and I recall that the temperature of the water was very cold regardless of the season (45 year old memories) but Jane recalls that in the early 1980’s the water temperature was such that a swimmer could have stayed in the water for ten minutes without much discomfort.

In June 2009 I noticed the water at the surface was almost as warm as the air temperature

dog in blue pool

The Blue Pool is now a Black Pool (20 April 2007)
photo by Heather Livingston, Ontario, Canada

algae in pool

June 2009 the water appears black but a sample is perfectly clear
visibility is about 2 metres — a lot of algae type growth in and on the water
note the level is lower than the other photographs

I have heard many theories on what this cylindrical brick lined shaft could have been.

  • A mine shaft.
  • A ventilation shaft for a mine.
  • A drainage sump for surrounding bog land.
  • An Ice House.
  • An industrial vat for a chemical or dye works.
  • A Biogas generating facility.
  • A Well or Water Supply.
It may have been a service stop for alien UFO’s visiting the nearby town of Bonnybridge.
   

stop cock fittingAlthough Heather Livingston knew about a nearby square man-hole with a metal extension rod, her family were ridiculing her until I came to her rescue by finding the structure a few weeks ago.

It is unlikely that I would have missed this in 1960 so it probably had a cover over it at that point or I just did not find it very memorable.

The fitting on the extension rod is the same as those in use today for water stop-cocks on water mains.

manhole

Nearby man-hole

 

3 brick wall

The pool is constructed of a circular brick wall that is three bricks wide. The brick wall is surrounded by a layer of blue clay. Blue clay was commonly used as a waterproofing material and our canals are lined with this material. Someone did not want liquid getting from one side of the brick wall to the other.

brickThe bricks seem to be handmade and have no company markings of any brickworks.

I find the way the brickwork finishes flush with the surrounding ground level, with no coping or finishing, a bit unusual and I suspect there was originally a covered structure above the pool to protect it from the elements.

This structure may have been built from bricks that were recycled for use in another project when the pool no longer served its original purpose.

blue clay

A layer of Blue Clay on the outside for waterproofing

  brick bond

Detail of the brick bond

 

If you decide to go have a look at the pool, please proceed with great care. The ground is very uneven having been deep ploughed by the Forestry Commission prior to planting.

The pool and the man-hole are known and obvious and can be treated with due respect but what if there are other unknown holes in the area with rusting or rotting covers under the heather and bracken.

If you are unfortunate enough to suddenly discover one, you had better make sure there is someone to pull you out or at least raise the alarm.

   

Blue pool bottom

30 August 2009 The bottom is visible and the pool is almost devoid of life

 

31 August 2009 UPDATE.

We hacked our way through bracken that was two metres tall on a path that was hardly visible but our reward was a clear view of the bottom of the Blue Pool. I did not have a polarising filter with me and was forced to take a photograph that suffered from surface reflections — I will try to get a photo later in the week that shows detail of the inside wall of the pool.

The pool was surprisingly uncluttered by debris. There were about six tree trunks on the bottom varying from a thick one at about 18 inches down to one about four inches in diameter. The edges had a build up of silt (or similar) forming a bit of an incline from the inside wall to the centre.
There was no algae type growth on or in the water — compare that with the photo taken just two months before (further up the page). It looks like the algae and visibility vary, possibly with season, temperature or daylight. The water felt slightly cooler than it did in June but was not uncomfortably cold. The pool was devoid of plant life and looked quite sterile so we got a good view of the occasional beetle swimming about.

The internal brickwork was covered with hairy slimy algae stuff but there were surprising patches of brickwork that were clean. The photo, for some reason, shows the colour of the tree trunks on the bottom to be green but the colour was actually a dark Khaki and the hairy slime had the identical colour.
This very dull neutral type colour helped emphasise a circular patch, about 2 metres in diameter, in the centre of the bottom. This irregular circular patch had a fairly vivid blue colour with small patches of white dotted about.

So did I find the ‘brick arched opening’? — no I did not. The hairy slime had formed an almost knitted solid layer over the inner brickwork and this could easily be hiding the opening. A few attempts were made to locate it using a long stick with an ‘L’ shaped end but time was running short and the distant town of Falkirk had already disappeared in the rain that was starting to make its presence felt — downpour by the time we reached the car.

I even tried sticking my face under the water but I could not see any better than I could from above. If the water proves to have rejuvenating properties, I may have to update my passport photo. I took samples of the water (prior to anyone disturbing the surface) and hope to have them analysed by a friend of a friend (got to keep the costs down).

A conversation with a local farmer revealed that the local fire department are aware of the pool as an Emergency Water Supply and have used it to tackle small forest fires. On one occasion they seemingly emptied it.
The farmer’s opinion, based on information from local miners, is that the pool was something to do with the local coal mine — possibly an airshaft.

The local pit was Herbertshire Colliery number 3 Pit (the Station Pit) just south of Denny Cross. I recalled my 83 year old uncle mentioning his father, who worked in that pit in the 1920’s and early 1930's, saying they would soon be at Larbert Cross. The farmer had heard of that particular road (tunnel) and said it ran into problems and was closed. A new road was cut underneath Denovan and seemingly the miners joked that after descending the shaft, they travelled ‘almost to Plean’ before starting work. My uncle had not heard of that.

My problem with the Airshaft theory is that our pool was full of water in the 1930’s and looked then just as it does now. The Station Pit was operational until the 1950’s when it was closed because of excessive amounts of methane gas — they just opened the new Denny High School on that same site.
For about 30 years, that mine had an ‘airshaft’ full of water? — maybe I am missing something. I am still favouring the Water Supply Tank theory but it’s early days.

Yesterday the Blue Pool was full to overflowing. Some bricks, from the top level, are missing. About three on the south east side where there was a fairly vigorous wee flow into the surrounding landscape and a long section on the south west side which had overflowed but the water was just sitting there, seemingly unable to flow anywhere. If it was flowing, it must have been very slow.

 

overflow south west

Overflow South West

overflow south east

Overflow South East

 
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06 October 2009 Update.

My last visit to the pool was 20 September 2009. The water was almost as clear as my previous visit on 31 August but there was no sign of the irregular round blue circle in the centre of the bottom — everything was the same kaki colour.
The polarising filter did not produce the clear photo I had hoped for so I did some gardening and clearing to improve access then I flattened a path to the manhole

I started clearing some debris from the manhole. After about twenty plastic bags, heavy with trapped water and some full of empty plastic bags for Forestry Commission Fertiliser, I gave up for the day — it will take a grappling hook and rope to get deeper.

 

pool bottom

The image is slightly confused with some reflections of the trees overhead mixing with the hairy slime.

Caroline Kerr from Aberdeen has been following the investigation with great interest and on a recent visit to the area, she and her two boys joined us on a pool-foray.

She took a water sample home and had it analysed. By coincidence she had recently obtained an analyses of her own domestic main’s tap water so we can use those results as a comparison.

Analysed by: Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry
Elemental Concentration expressed as milligrams/litre

  ELEMENT TORWOOD
BLUE POOL
ABERDEEN
TAP WATER
Al Aluminium 1.43 0.02
B Boron <0.2 <0.2
Ca Calcium 1.156 15.06
Fe Iron 0.033 0.0848
K Potassium 0.99 0.98
Mg Magnesium 0.85 1.95
Mn Manganese 0.14 0.01
Na Sodium 5.75 7.37
P Phosphorous 0.02 0.73
Si Silicon 2.91 1.96
Sr Strontium 0.014 0.041

Duplicate sample tested 1 Dec 2009 — pH 6.0
The results are reassuringly unspectacular.
 

I started scrubbing some of the hairy slime from the internal brickwork of the Blue Pool in the hope of finding the brick arch. The water had only partly cleared with half an hour to sunset when I noticed a pipe about six inches in diameter at about two feet below the surface. Not likely to be an overflow at that depth but a definite candidate for an inlet pipe.

The water in the pool would not be clear before darkness fell so that was it for the day. I intend cleaning all the hairy slime from the internal brickwork and photographing from an underwater camera housing. I suspect the brick arch will be the outlet and will line up with the manhole but that’s just me thinking aloud.

 
6 inch pipe

Pipe appears to be glazed ceramic
— difficult to tell from the photo

pipe in wall

People are starting to refer to me as
The Blue Pool Guy

green slime

Hairy slime is rather an attractive green colour in the daylight.
Are there any Aquarists out there who can identify it ?

Some interesting figures: A line drawn from the six inch pipe, through the centre of the blue pool, goes through the centre of the manhole and that line has a compass bearing of 123 degrees magnetic — reading from a hand-held silva compass sighted by eye and will easily have a five degree error — more on this shortly.

I have found more people who know of the pool and some who have swum in it but nobody knows its purpose.
The Blue Pool web page is doing its job well and acting as a nucleus for attracting information.

I was recently contacted by ‘Jay’ who was born and bred in Torwood. Jay recalls that around 1960 there was a gamekeeper called Angus Gillies who worked for the Carron Iron Works that owned the land at the time
Angus Gillies the Gamekeeper (now deceased) lived in a small lodge about 200 metres downhill from Torwood Castle on the west side of the Drive.

Jay was with the Gamekeeper around 1960 just prior to a Fox Hunt. The Gamekeeper told Jay to look at the bottom of the Blue Pool where Jay clearly saw lots of bricks and timber planks (not trees). The Gamekeeper explained that the Pool once had a brick beehive shaped roof that had fallen into the pool and Jay could clearly see the debris on the bottom.
It is not clear whether the beehive roof started at ground level or if there was a wall with the beehive roof on top. Jay does not know if Gamekeeper Angus Gillies saw the beehive roof himself or was recounting a story told to him by an older person.

Jay contacted me first thing the following morning after a flash of inspiration during the night. He owns a book and is currently trying to find it. He recalls reading that when the RSNH Hospital was built they sourced their water supply from Torwood.

I immediately went to my research drawing/map of the area (not yet on this page) and extended my compass bearing line of 123 degrees magnetic and near wet me pants with excitement — the line went straight through the RSNH Hospital. Unfortunately the RSNH was built as two distinct units.
This one was called the RSNH (Colony) and was not opened until the mid 1920’s. The other (the first one) RSNH (Institution) is about half a mile north of the Colony.

Hopefully Jay will find the book which may furnish us with more detailed information but in the mean time I found another book on the history of the RSNH, written in 2002, at Callendar House Library:

Page 54
Water and Drainage
There was no civic drainage or water supply when the first buildings were erected and so a well was sunk. Some of the stronger boys had the task of pumping water from it into a storage tank. Pipes were laid to connect the tank to buildings. Rain water was also collected in cisterns, for washing purposes.
Access to a spring on Torwood Estate was granted in 1865, but it was not tapped until 1870 delaying the use of new kitchens installed the previous year. The water was hard and although it was good for cooking and drinking, rain water was still used for washing. A water supply from Falkirk Water Trust was connected in the 1890s.

A straight line is not a requirement for a water supply pipe but it would have been nice.
The RSNH water supply theory is still being assessed.

Today I spoke to Brian Brown who has lived all his life in Torwood. Brian was born in 1947 and remembers his Grandfather (who lived in Torwood all his life) telling him that the pool was once the water supply for Carbrook House (demolished around 1946) on the north side of the Glen Road, Torwood.

Carbrook House and the RSNH are not too far apart and a common water supply for that small area would not be unreasonable as the cost could be split between interested parties. This possibility is being considered.

 
I now come to something that I have been holding on to but have made no progress with. About three months ago, just after one of my party discovered the manhole (much to Heather’s delight) he went a little further on into the trees and started finding stuff faster than I could photograph.
Some slates; a piece of angle iron around 6x4 inches; a short length of cast-iron half-round guttering; two curved pieces of metal.
 
slates half round  
The first piece of curved metal is flat-bar about 2 inch by 3/8 inch and is bent to the same curve as the pool. The other curved metal piece is a lot more intricate. It is a shaped moulding but also custom made to match the circumference of the pool.  
moulding O G  

After considering the possibilities, my assistant investigator, Andy McLagan, turned the moulding up the other way and I had to agree it looked very much like ‘O-G’ Guttering for rainwater.
If we have guttering then we have a roof. If we have a roof, we have walls. Was it a slate roof ? — there were a few slates in the area but maybe they were for another nearby construction. None of the old Ordnance Survey maps show any construction in the area of the pool — they don’t even show the pool, though they record tiny two foot wells all over the place, they do not mention our 20 foot diameter pool.

The very latest Ordnance Survey map accessible at Callendar House on computer (not actually in print as far as I know) shows our pool and calls it a ‘Tank’.
The Callendar House computer also has an aerial photo showing the Tank from around 1940/50. The Pylon line is already there (marked ETL) and there are no trees around the pool.

Sometime in the 1980’s (my educated guess) the Forestry Commision planted their usual dense conifers in the area but they stopped at the pool — were they lovers of pools ? My friend and accomplice, Andy, is the same age as myself and has worked most of his life in Forestry — he knows his trees. He pointed out something in full view but not immediately obvious.

 
compass points  

The power companies maintain their Pylon Lines and no trees are allowed within a certain safe distance of the transmission lines. It may be ugly, but if it had not been for the nearby pylon line, our Blue Pool would have been annihilated — destroyed by a huge plough and smothered by a dense conifer plantation.

The time between updates cannot be predicted. It may be days or months. I will always send out an email to inform you of an update so you don’t have to trawl the page to spot any changes. Let me know if you would like your email added to the mailing list.

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This is a customised Google map
showing markers for features around the Blue Pool. You can click on the text below the map to enlarge it.
The information on each marker will be updated if it becomes available.
There is currently no way to have more than one layer so all the features have to be visible at the same time.

 

View Torwood Blue Pool Investigation 2009 in a larger map
 

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UPDATE 15 October 2009

A recent conversation with the current owners of Todhill Farm (east of Torwood Castle), revealed that the Blue Pool may have once been the water supply for Todhill — mmm . . . another one I hear you say — well this story has some interesting merits.

It is obvious that the Blue Pool was an expensive engineering project and was not built to save a few peasants from the toil of carrying water half a mile from the nearest well. It would have needed the finance of Industry or someone very wealthy. You will have noticed that I am still thinking ‘Water Tank’.

I have spoken to the most likely older people in Torwood and Dunipace and it is becoming evident that there is not a person alive today who actually knows the purpose of our Blue Pool.
I have just spoken to the Farmer at Denovan Mains Farm, David Graham. David has lived all his 62 years on the farm and has known about the Blue Pool since he was a young boy. He remembers ‘lots’ of planks of wood in and around the pool. He would throw a plank vertically into the pool and see how high it went when it shot back up.
Sometimes he and his friends would arrive at the pool to find all the planks in the water. Other times the planks were scattered around the pool. Obviously there were others visiting the pool.
David remembers seeing the loose bricks lying on the bottom but does not remember the six inch pipe or the brick arch and he never saw any slates.

I asked him about it being a water supply for Todhill. David said he had never heard of the pool being associated with Todhill but he did know about the farm. David’s suggestions about Todhill were intriguing and will form my line of enquiry when I next visit Callendar House records library.

David told me that Todhill was once bought by a very wealthy man, who had some sort of association with Carron Iron Works.
The farm house itself was very opulent and obviously cost a lot more than other farm houses in the area even though the acreage of the farm was modest and the land was very poor.
Did this man build his own personal water storage tank up the hill in Torwood? Did he use his own money? Did he put it through as a company expense with no paperwork (I hope not)?
Lots of question marks but I think it’s the most tantalizing line of enquiry so far.

You will notice from my new Google map of the area (above) that the compass bearing line takes the inlet pipe in the general direction of Thorneydyke Quarry.
David told me that Doghillock Farm (south west of our pool) used to get its water supply from the Thorneydyke area.
This area is shown on older Ordnance Survey maps as being boggy wetland and had a sizeable pond that has vanished in just the last few years. The area has been leveled and transformed with no remaining sign of Thorneydyke Quarry or the pond.

I end this update on a sad and cautionary note.  About two years ago, a local woman lost her Golden Labrador. Eventually a search ensued and her friend found the dog drowned in the Blue Pool. It was during a long dry period and the level of the pool had dropped by at least two feet. The dog was unable to get back out.

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Update 1 December 2009

It’s almost two months since I visited the Blue Pool and cleared some hairy weed from the brickwork and managed to photograph a six inch pipe just as the sun was setting and the deeper water was still cloudy.
Today I needed the exercise so I took a walk round Torwood. Fortunately I had my camera with me as I stood looking at the crystal clear water (still no blue colour) and staring patiently back at me was the Brick Arch of legends further up this page.

 

Brick Arch Exposed

Camera at an awkward angle to avoid surface reflections of the sky

 

The arch was pretty much where Neil Jardine remembered it was. I was hoping it would be on the same side as the man-hole but the mystery just gets curiouser and curiouser.
As I strained to see through the breeze-rippled surface, I spotted another six inch pipe just a couple of feet anticlockwise from the first six inch pipe and on the same level.

two pipesBoth pipes are directly above the Brick Arch opening.
Neil and myself remember the brick Arch opening as being clear of the bottom, so, assuming this is the only Brick Arch (not yet proven), we can deduce from its half buried state that the pool bottom is about a metre higher than it was in the 1960’s (at least round the edges) and the trees and weed covered debris will be well covering the loose bricks reported previously as having fallen in, presumably from a collapsed superstructure (a wall round the pool).

My biggest surprise was the size of the Brick Arch — much bigger than I remember. It is difficult to guess sizes under water but I am sure the diameter of the semi-circular arch is at the very least one metre.

Another find was a heavy plank that had been driven down vertically into the bottom debris. It was tight against the brickwork and just covering the edge of the Arch. Its top was about half way between the Arch and the surface. I took a long stick and pushed it over for a better look. My best guess at this stage is that its cross section is about 10 x 2.5 inches. It is tapered towards the top for some reason. Maybe later I will haul it out for a better look.

We have two pipes and a Brick Arch all on the same side. Inlet and outlet on the same side ? — I am not too comfortable with that — and no opening (so far) on the man-hole side. Most of the brickwork is still weed covered. When I clean that off, I should have a good view of all openings above the bottom-debris.

It’s unlikely that I will be doing much during the cold short days of the winter months other than have a look now and then.
I spent a frustrating day at Callendar House Reference Library yesterday, trying to read the hand scrawled minutes of the Falkirk & Larbert Water Trust of 1892. This was very slow going and yielded nothing worthwhile but it would probably take months to read through them all.
I have put out email ‘feelers’ to Scottish Water, the Forestry Commission and Carron Company who owned Torwood for a while. I will pray for a result there rather than go back to reading the minutes.

It’s worth noting that only the top of a semi circular arch is visible at present. No sign of the vertical parallel sides and level bottom that I remember — wee bit of dredging required there.

If the arch keeps going round to form a circle then we have a round brick pipe and not what I remember — except that somewhere inside me there is a memory of a small round brick opening that I have not mentioned because I really think I am inventing it. It certainly was nowhere near the diameter of this (very large) Brick Arch.

Thanks again to Caroline Kerr from Aberdeen who took a couple of samples home for testing on 6 October 2009. The results are published further up this page (use Browser BACK button to return here).
We did not get a Laboratory pH result but Caroline has just Litmus Tested the duplicate sample and the pH is 6.0

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Update 6 January 2010

I have not yet had any response from Carron Phoenix or the Forestry Commission but many thanks to Scottish Water for their speedy response and the research by their legal department.

We have nothing in the immediate area either by way of land holdings or assets. I would have to say that Scottish Water’s predecessors are unlikely to have been involved.
There is, in fact, no pipe-work or assets anywhere in the vicinity of the Blue Pool.
I suspect that the pool was built in support of an industrial process and, as such, it looks if it was unlikely to form part of the public water supply.

My recent discovery of the second 6 inch pipe and the larger than expected brick arch opening (on the wrong side for my theory) had already left me thinking that this was a very strange design for a water tank and I have abandoned, at least for the time being, my Water Tank Theory.
What industrial process would anyone locate in such a hard to reach location with little or no access to roads for transporting raw materials and finished goods?

After much brain storming with Andy, we came up with a Charcoal Kiln. There are plenty of images of charcoal Kilns on Google Image. Some have vertical sides, some have a beehive shape and many have a brick arch opening at the base to remove the charcoal.
Write it up and stamp it SOLVED said Andy — let’s get on to the next investigation!
I was not that confident, though I had mentally converted the 4 foot manhole into an isolation valve for a gas supply from Glenbervie gas works.

To get the charcoal out of the brick arch that is 5 metres below ground level would have involved an angled access trench through very boggy ground. The trench would probably have flooded faster than you could dig it. Another problem was that the internal brickwork looks brand new with no sign of blackening or tar residue. I have abandoned the Charcoal Kiln theory.

I find myself coming back to the most popular theory — something to do with a mine, possibly an air shaft. I had discounted this as the blue pool has been in its present condition since the 1930’s and the Denny Pit (Herbertshire number 3), south of Torwood, did not close till the 1950’s.
There was however an older pit to the west of Torwood, Quarter Pit in Dunipace. There was Plean Pit with workings somewhere under Torwood. There were Clay Mines but these are fairly modern. There was a very old Lime Mine.
I need drawings of the area and my next port of call will be the Scottish Archives in Edinburgh. I hope to get there before the end of January.

I have just received some information from a local person, Richard Barton, who has now moved to Bannockburn. Richard refers to the Blue Pool as The Well because that was his best guess the first time he saw it.

I've been riding my (mountain) bike in this area for almost 20 years so I'm familiar with the paths. I'd found the well about 13 years ago and it would always be a place we would stop off to have a nosey at whilst out on the bikes.
I have the same recollection as Neil Jardine about the brick archway.
We discovered the pool in the 90’s during the summer and the trees were growing but the pool wasn't quite as covered as it is now. We had a look at it and spent a good half hour just nosey around — didn't disturb anything, but it was incredibly clear, some debris in the bottom (mainly bricks from memory, but also some wood) but the walls were pretty clear. We spotted the brick archway and then spent the rest of the time pondering what it could be used for.

One particular day we met the guy who was working on Torwood Castle — a retired doctor, I believe. He was carrying 2 large plastic jerry cans full of water. We offered to help him as they looked seriously heavy and he looked rather frail but he refused our help but we walked him back to the castle. Apparently he used the pool to get his water whilst in the castle — I'm not sure how accurate that was but he kept asking us not to throw anything in the pool as it was his drinking water — he got a fresh supply from the well twice a week and he had noticed a bit more debris in there so was asking people who knew about it to try and keep it clean — could have been his attempt at making sure it didn't get vandalised.
We would visit it in all seasons and I can only recall once more when it was covered in ice completely — 1995/96, we had some severely cold weather for about 3 weeks — minus 15°c and the pool was totally covered — ice looked to be a couple of inches thick.

Last night [4th January 2010] was the first time in about 6 years since I visited it. It was minus 2°c and only about 60% of the pool was covered with a 3mm thick ice sheet, the water appeared to be warm (but we weren't brave enough to remove our gloves to test the theory!) I've never noticed the 'inlet' pipes before so that is interesting info for me.

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Update 15 April 2010

My visit to the National Archives in Edinburgh drew a blank. All the interestingly named items in-house were just the same old ordnance survey maps with some coloured boundary lines showing who owned some small piece of land at a particular instance.
I have never found an old Ordnance Survey map (or revision) that has indicated any structure around the Blue Pool. It’s hard to believe that this is an accidental omission.

There are other items that I will view on my next visit but they have to be ordered in advance as they are not kept in-house.
I visited the Blue Pool about three weeks ago with my scrubbing brush. After a few minutes the water was totally cloudy and I spent the next few hours guessing where the weed might be.
The water took a week to clear properly and I realised that saying, “You missed a bit”, was a gross understatement.

I was armed with my scrubbing brush of course but before I got started I took some photographs.
I found a new 6 inch clay pipe (with spigot end) poking through the wall but not at right angles to the tangent of the circumference (it was a bit squint). It was pointing pretty much along the same line as the pylons towards the long straight path from Torwood to Denovan.

Another find, just above the bottom debris, was a 12 inch length of 1.5 inch iron pipe sticking out horizontally from the wall and pointing over to the brick arch. This iron pipe appears to line up with the manhole. The end of the pipe has been cut at a deliberate angle of about 30 degrees to the horizontal — the photo quality is very poor.
The extension rod that used to stick up from the manhole has vanished.

The water surface was calm and made for some good photos but, on long zoom, the tiniest insect creates enough ripples to affect clarity.
As I prepared the photos for this update, I was stunned to see something just inside the arch that I had not noticed. It could be a trick of the light but there appears to be two pipes about 4inch diameter penetrating the vertical side of the arch on the viewer’s right. I hope to get a better view at my next visit when the water has cleared — I had been poking my brush in there a wee bit.
All pipe sizes so far are near-enough guesstimates. I will get round to accurately measuring them at some point.

Access on the tree-line side of the pool has been almost impossible. After my last visit, you can walk all around the circumference with ease.

I have not yet cleared all of the weed from the internal walls so there may still be a clue or two to be found. I will also try to clear out some debris from the bottom of the archway.

I am now armed with high-tech litmus paper. My last four visits to the pool have given a consistent reading of ph 5.0
This is a bit on the acid side of neutral and probably ideal for the ericaceous growth nearby (conifers and heathers).

 

debris
Bottom debris at arch opening.
The foreshortning effect of looking through water makes the pool look shallow but the bottom of the arch is nearly 4 metres from the top row of bricks on the surface.

arch
Arch showing clearly the position of the two six inch pipes.

 

arch detail
Detail to viewer's right of the arch with vertical side clearly visible.
Can you see two 4 inch pipes breaking the vertical wall surface ?

iron pipe
1.5 inch iron pipe with slightly red colouring sticks out about one foot from the wall just above the level of the bottom debris.
This pipe lines up with the manhole and points towards the arch.
Hopefully I will get a better photo next time.
Image is enhanced — the pipe does not look as red as this.

new pipe
A new 6 inch pipe discovered on the opposite side to the arch.
At about 3 feet below the level of the top surface brick layer, this 6 inch clay pipe is at the same depth as the two 6 inch pipes above the brick archway.
There appears to be a crack on the underside as a stick seems to bed itself in when poking.


 
 
pool 2009
June 2009
path
April 2010
Easy access is now possible all around the pool.
Obviously the fairies have been doing their Spring pruning.
 

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