What We Know

Nigel TurnballThis website was setup to retain and continue all the good work and valuable information collated by the late Nigel Turnbull.
All first-person references within the text are referring to Nigel.


The Torwood Blue Pool is a round brick lined pool which in a cleared strip of Tor Wood to the south west of Torwood, north of Denny and Larbert.

Torwood Blue Pool

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 ?

What we know so far 

Torwood Blue Pool near Dunipace

Land Utilisation Map

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.
My uncle, also a local, remembers it from his youth (late 1930’s) and described it as looking just the same.

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.

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.

Torwood Pool looking blue

Torwood Pool looking blue

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?

Torwood Blue Pool looking West-ish

Looking West-ish

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.
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.

Torwood Blue Pool looking North-ish

Looking North-ish

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.


For further reading, please start at the posts page.


184 thoughts on “What We Know

  1. James Milne

    Just found this :

    A tunnel – I dont think it is what they say it is. If Larbert house was built in 1822, I wonder if the tunnel predates the house. The duck pond was built at the same time as the house.

    Is this tunnel connected to the Torwood pool – can some one get some bearings of the tunnel ? Has anybody chatted to this Geoff Bailey keeper of archaeology at Falkirk ? – It stands directly between Torwood pool and the Carron Iron works ….coincidence ?

    It also ties in with the hospital taking its water from torwood

    1. Robert Murray

      James you discount that ‘tunnel’ – it started off as a lane that was covered over either side of a bridge. I’ve been in it and the roof in consultation with old maps that show it as a sunken lane tells the story.

      1. James Milne

        Fair enough – benefits of local knowledge.

        I was looking at the OS map last night. There isnt a way through to the reservoirs maintaining a constant drop to end up at the 100 m contour at Torwood pool. You have to go down then up again at the motorway. I doubt they would do this.

        I think your already ahead of me here Nigel, perhaps there was a change of use, to water supply later in field life. Which again brings you back to the mines – was it a drift mine that was modified (all the brick work put in) ito create a water header tank once the mining was finished ? I guess the Carron Iron work could also have purchased the land to mine the iron and coal first, then required a clean (from a mine!) source of water off the hills rather than the contaminated Carron river water ?

        1. Nigel Turnbull

          Carron Iron Works took a lease on Torwood in 1760 for the supply of charcoal from the timber. I don’t know if the lease was continuous up until they purchased Torwood around 1914. To the best of my knowledge, Carron Iron Works never extracted minerals from underground in that area. New update coming in an hour or so. Nigel

          Look forward to seeing your map David to see where you are exactly. A ploughman from Todhill (1955-70) told me that the large water tank next to Torwood Castle is an emergency supply for industry at Grangemouth. The big pipe cuts across the castle’s ground then south of Todhill before turning in the Larbert Stenhousemuir direction. He was not sure of the exact route it took then. Nigel

        2. Robert Murray

          Brilliant analysis from Miles – who is a member of http://www.mine-explorer.co.uk/bbs/forums/ – I took the liberty of posting a link there a few days ago asking for opinions of their underground enthusiasts. (‘Stirlingshire Mystery’). There is also a team from Edinburgh area one of whom is a diver and might manage to do a dive early next year.

          Looking good anyway although as Nigel says ‘Case no closed yet’

          1. Nigel Turnbull

            I was on that site Robert and saw the request — are you the ‘son of a miner’?
            Well done. Most exciting input we have had. Nigel

            1. Robert Murray

              Aye thats me Nigel. My Da’ went doon the pit in December 1919.

              A Drain the Pool party sounds the bizzo! Count me in.

          2. James Milne

            Thank you Miles !

            That is absolutely facinating, do you have some links where we can learn more ? The blocked passage explains the lack of colour to the water, which threw me completely – so the water coming out is just filtered ground water – hence…..a possible change of use ?

            Nigel, what about a drain the pool party ! I’ll bring a genny ! It would be great to meet everybody and have a chat about the area and industrial archeology

            And Nigel, this website is great – this is what the internet is designed for. Thanks for all the effort you’ve put in.

  2. Nigel Turnbull

    That wee video has certainly got some response — emails and comments are coming in quicker than I can respond.
    Thanks to David and Stephanie Hunter for all your work and input. I have seen David work those dowsing rods with remarkable effect at ‘Son of Blue’ on the grounds of the old Carbrook House just a mile from the Torwood Blue Water Pool. I would like to see a map of your findings and put it on the web page with your conclusions. Although I am currently still an ‘Airshaft Advocate’, I still have an open mind and have been dredging the Scotsman Archives and following reports on Loch Coulter being incorporated into the Falkirk & Larbert Water Trust — later Stirlingshire Water. I can’t find any reference of a link to Torwood. I did not research North Third Reservoir. You have me fair flummoxed with the tunnel to Carron Iron Works.
    Thanks to James Milne. My best guess is that the manhole and one inch metal pipe were later modifications marking a change of use. A pipe connecting Loch Coulter or North Third Reservoir to Torwood would certainly have to go deep to get under the main Denny to Stirling Road or the newer M80 that follows the same route. Scotsman newspaper reports from 1885 follow the acquisition of Loch Coulter for the Falkirk Water Scheme. It is my understanding that they increased the capacity of this natural loch. Thanks for all the interesting links you are posting.

  3. James Milne

    I’ve just re-read your pages – page 1, 6 oct 2009 update..
    the land used to be owned by the Carron Iron works….various places used it as a water supply…and the “spring” was there pre 1865. I guess the Carron works were going from 1760 onwards. But North Third reservoir was built in the 1930s…presumably loch Coulter was ?

    Sounds more and more like a drinking water supply to me but what exactly was its purpose and where did the water come from ?

    Just thinking about what I had written …All that pipe work in the pool appears to be contemporaneous with the brick work – it doesnt look like its been added later, the clay pipes look like stuff I dig out of the ground round the house and there is insitu iron pipes. Iron pipes – how long will they last under water?, then there is the guttering etc….has this water supply been upgraded when the reservoirs were built – 1930s ?

    I’ve just been looking at the loch Katrine water supply project for comparison….8 ft diameter, 10 inches fall per 1 mile – the tunnel would have to contour the ground surely? How deep does your dowsing kit detect water to?

    1930s Header tank – giving a head of 70 metres to the residents in the valley below…is it really big enough for that….guess if it was Carron iron works it might be….

    Nigel this really would make a cracking Time Team special – they’d have it solved in no time….go on give them a call

  4. James Milne

    Right, now this is me thinking out loud – I’m probably spouting stuff you guys have already thought of or gone through, but maybe my random muttering may spark an idea

    Housing for a Beam Engine – these beams are massive and usually the walls to house the beam were a structural support for the MASSIVE beam – these buildings, all over the UK are still standing – why would some one have employed considerable effort to remove all trace of this ? So I think this is doubtful.

    I think (and I’m probably wrong) that the lack of colour to the water, suggests that its not iron related, by iron I’m thinking ironstone (siderite rich layers in the carboniferous ?) or coal or fire clay – fireclay is the soil beneath the coal this is often sideritic (iron carbonate) Somebody correct me if I’m wrong here. So I’m being contoverisal here – but I’m thinking its not mine related. However:
    THis shows two pictures of water from Birkhall mine one with heavily stained water the other not ….
    But there is also a lack of machinery for ventilation – maybe it predates mechanical ventilation – maybe relying on its height above sea level to act like a chimney and draw the air through the mine

    Type vertical air shaft into google images and the only things that look like Torwood are canal air shafts or railway airshafts which do look very similar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Preston_Brook_air_shaft_north.jpg
    but all stand proud of the ground…..and torwood looks like it has a dressed brick finished top layer at ground level…shout out if you think not.
    This is a cracker:

    Possible indications for a water course design :
    Manhole – what the heck is the manhole for? Inspection or mechanical on/off switches as the main structure holds something you cant get into – it looks suspicially watery to me
    The pipes look like water pipes with recesses in them that I wonder is for a grill.
    The tunnel appears to head off on a heading that seems to contour the hill..BUT your at the 100m contour – can you contour round the M80 to the Loch Colter or North Third reservoir ?
    Have a look at this website:
    could this be an analogue ?

    Is the pool a controling (manhole)/ regulating header tank to for a drinking water supply to the rapidly industrialising Denny/Stenhousemuir area ?

    Any thoughts?

    How to get proof ?

    1. David and Stephanie Hunter

      This is drinking water reason being there is clay on the outside of the brick which was to stop contamination to the water from rain water.
      Back to Son of blue pool this has 2 2metre tunnels one of them pointing directly to the blue pool the other heading for Tor-burn, now the blue pool has a 3rd tunnel which points directly to carron iron works!!!!!!
      So for no evedance of a tunnel from blue pool pointing towards son of blue your tunnel points towards NORTH THIRD RESERVOIR (4miles from blue pool now that is a lot of tunnel)Dave followed this for about a mile! You need to investagate the resevoirs,you also need someone with GPS now remember this was all done with dowsing rods and again it works perfect!!!

      1. James Milne

        Do you have some grid references. I’m struggling to picture it geographically, but I reckon your on to something there
        I’ve been searching for water networks but I’m struggling. There must be something out there….

        1. David Hunter

          Hi James bare with me this is using google earth and memory so not so accurite if you draw a striaght line from the blue pool to north third reservoir I followed for at least a mile with dowsing rods. The next one is from blue pool to denny 56o01’26.73″N 3o53’24.21″W
          Son of blue is located 56o02’51.88″N 3o52’07.63″W
          First tunnel points directly at blue pool have only followed this as far as Glen road!
          the second one of the son of blue I followed to 56o02’55.70″N 3o52’20.53″W
          I am hoping to get out at the wkend to follow this further

  5. David and Stephanie hunter

    Hi Nigel what a fantastic film This of course enspired David to get the Dowsing rods out!!! He went missing for some time following one of the two tunnels. The known arch as far as electric sub station about 1 mile,second tunnel believed to be 2metres wide straight line to the river carron! Possiable 3 tunnel he has not followed yet, I strongly believe that they are there. This blue pool is bigger than what you think,David still believes that both pools are linked also we need to get a core sample which would help find oringanal depth. Also David reckons that there is two hidden arches much deeper as the direction the tunnles are going drops.

    The dowsing rods WORK perfect not sure how but they work!!!!

    Hi Niegal again the path that Dave followed takes you straight to the carron resevoir, the 2 new tunnels one goes to Denny the other Larbert area I believe what the blue pool does is it brings the water level down not sure how to word it but you need to start investigating fresh water!!!

  6. Robert Murray

    The pit (blue pool) could possibly have housed a beam engine and the chamber a fan with the shaft behind it running down towards the pit workings. If that were the case then there would have had to be an access stair around or a ladder to the pit/pool floor and probably a hatch on the roof near the fan. That said I have a problem with this being built so far away from the pithead, unless it doubled as an escape road which would have required a fairly gentle gradient.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks Robert. IF! it is an airshaft/tunnel, was it natural draft or power fan? The distance of one mile from the production shaft to the Pool certainly gives pause for thought. I have now managed to find where magnetic north was at the time of the disaster in 1895 when the drawing of the workings was done. I hope to rotate and overlay it on a modern map to see how the Pool might fit into the picture. Nigel

      1. Robert Murray

        I don’t think there was such a thing as as ‘natural draft’.
        Mining engineering took its place. Mine ventilation was carefully engineered as illustrated by the plan of the 1895 disaster where the air flow across the workings from the downcast and upcast shafts is seen.
        Closed doors, curtains, bits of wood, anything to control the draught – in the proper direction.

        No mention of anything from the direction of Torwood.

  7. James Milne

    Hello again Nigel,

    I’ve got that friday afternoon….mind wandering over to Torwood again feeling. You know how you wonder if its an air shaft related to the coal/fireclay mines – I’ve been doing a bit of ferreting about I found this image – http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikj/5773582312/in/photostream/ look at the colour of the water. Orange – I’ve seen this before with water that comes out of mines. With the water in the pool being so clear and having a low iron content, I wonder if the pool is connected to the mines ?

    I’m trolling trough images of coal and fire clay mines on google – I’m seeing lots of drift mines but no vertical cylindrical shafts.The ones I do see have doors, or remains of doors above. There is alot of industrial debris lying about, but the blue pool has very little. You mention other mines in the area. Is there any industrial archeology at the surface in the vicinity of these locations ? I’m thinking if they are related and mine related there would be more ruined buildings and metal work about ?


    See above site – look at the colour of the water coming out !

    Have you thought about contacting the National scottish Mining museum – they must have archives of coal and fire clay mines and they would definately have people who know mines and could tell you what your dealing with ?

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that James. The photos of mine workings are first class. I am still looking at the link you emailed me http://codesmiths.com/dingbat/lj/200601__/glyn_pit/ and there is a rising arched tunnel very similar to the Muiravonside Pit Airshaft printed earlier in this report.
      Orange water is usually associated with Iron. Quarter Colliery originally worked Ironstone but later dug down to the Bannockburn Main Coal seam which it was working when it closed in 1910.
      The lack of old buildings, rail and roads around the Pool indicates that it was not a production shaft.
      It’s not an airshaft yet but it seems to be heading that way. Nigel

  8. Nigel Turnbull

    Thanks Matt. I tried some thin brass rods with amazing results. I tried them again with erratic, conflicting and inconsistent results. After a bit it seemed that if the vertical part of the rod (the bit in the hand) varied even a fraction from the vertical then the long horizontal part would swing violently even when you are not walking forward.
    If anyone thinks s/he has the power, I look forward to the report. May the Force be with you. Nigel

  9. Matt

    What about the good old fashioned art of dowsing?
    Might give you an idea as to how far the tunnel extends from the pool. That is of course if you believe that the practice works – if it did the results would be instant and obvious.

    Stop laughing! I’m being serious.

    I’m not offering my services by the way. I did see a guy do it once on an episode of Time Team and those bendy metal rods did their job alright (in the right hands of course).

  10. Robert Murray

    Fantastic footage Nigel. What a great feat.

    Undeniably a tunnel. The odds that it was an escape tunnel for the Quarter pit are shortening quickly. Visions of a long gently inclined tunnel is happening for me.
    Some advice though. Accept some help and advertise your next trip, I’m sure a few of us will turn out to assist and offer up opinion.
    I’ll be watching the film again and again. Well done you.

    1. Robert Murray

      Looking at the footage again and you have to wonder what is holding the roof up between the arches – a higher arched roof? Doesn’t make much sense. The walls between the arches are (from what we can see) vertical.

      I’ll throw another theory into the ring and say that this may not be a tunnel at all but a roofed over sunken structure. The ‘roof’ might only be a couple of feet below the heather to the north of the shaft/pool.

      The film is fascinating.

    2. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Robert. I will keep the team effort idea in mind for the future but most of the stuff I have done so far has been a one or two person job.
      Although my brain is screaming ‘Tunnel’, the only photographic evidence, at the moment, is of a black void that could indeed be another chamber.
      The roof of the ‘maintenance chamber’ would be about two by three metres and could take the form of a concrete slab or framed H-beam steel with a manhole cover for entry. It could be arched in to a circular hole with manhole cover.
      I was surprised that I did not see metal ladder rungs embedded on one of the walls.
      I was emailed by ‘Obsidian’, who suggested a model submarine. I had thought of designing a submersible platform with camera and lights but decided it would probably take me for ever and cost more than I could afford. If anyone out there already has a similar device and would like to give it a workout then please get in touch.
      Lots of people have suggested getting a diver down there but we have more unknowns than knowns — what if the apparent bottom of the Pool, at 5 metres, is just some wedged debris build up and the real depth is 100 metres? I don’t think that is likely but it is a possibility. Nigel

      1. Robert Murray

        Your right a diver is not a good idea at all. Some kind of submersible robot camera is probably the best bet …… but how many folk have one of those lying in the shed?

        Wouldn’t be a good idea to dig down from the heather either but maybe prodding down with a steel pole? The ground seemed pretty softish when we were up in April.

  11. Doug Paterson

    Visited the Blue Pool today during a walk round the Broch/Torwood Castle etc.

    Well it is a fascinating puzzle isn’t it

    Sadly I have no theories to add to the extensive ideas on this site. Well done so far – great stuff

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Doug. I have added you to the mailing list. I hope to have some interesting images on my next update in the next day or two. Nigel.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      These are all good questions. After two years, I can confidently answer your three questions with the following answers: I don’t know, I don’t know and I don’t know. As soon as the mystery is solved, you will be informed — I added you to the mailing list. Nigel

  12. John Gibson

    hello i remember this well from when i was a little boy you see we went up there once, wee ian coulter and me and the poor lad fell in and never came out. i got the blame but i was not to blame at all. anyway i’m surprised it’s still open after all these years but i don’t think i’ll come and see it again.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that John. I have never heard of a human fatality in the Pool. Can you remember what year it happened?

  13. David Hunter

    Hi Nigel good photo’s! Not sure if this is just pure chance when you go onto google earth both pools are exactly 1 mile apart as the crow flys.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Sorry for the delay David. I have been scratching my head but I can’t see any significance in the one mile distance between the Pool and ‘Son of Blue’ at Carbrook.


    Hi nigel was up at the blue pool last night and think your guess is the best so far. I have no idea whatsoever what the purpose of the blue pool was or is but I have a friend who works for Scottish Water so I’ll get him to have a good look for a better second opinion. Good luck with your ongoing investigation and if I learn anything I’ll immediately update you cheers.


    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Ian. I am just putting the finishing touches to my Heath Robinson Underwater Camera Device Thingy. With luck, everyone will be looking inside the arch soon.

  15. Robert Murray

    Nigel I’ve just had a look at a new mapping resource called HAGGIS (aye) which has a close up zoom (planning dept quality) street level O.S. and the the object is named ‘Tank’ – the area shows to up well enough that even the pylons are shown.


    every little helps …………

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Robert. I saw the same overlay on a Falkirk Council computer OS map. It kick started my water tank theory. Looking back it may just be that the map people did not know what it was and TANK was the best description they could come up with.
      If the above was correct, and the OS map records did not know what it was, then it must have been a very short lived asset.
      After two years I still hold my hands up and say that I aint got a clue — oh for a bit of hard evidence!
      That’s a handy map site though it was a bit temperamental on my PC with IE8

  16. Darroch McNab

    i’m thinkin that maybe the owners who constructed denovan house also constructed the pool to provide fresh water also. I have walked my dog in the area for the last 6 years and have never came across the blue pool. there could be so many conclusions of the pools origins and i’ll be following your updates closely because i have now became totally intrigued by the mystery of the blue pool. I’m also starting my own reasearch into this mystery and any findings that i think might be useful i will pass onto yourself

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Darroch and fingers crossed you come up with something. I have added you to the mailing list.
      Talking to older people in the local community, to get any family stories of Grandparents who had firsthand knowledge of the Pool, will probably prove the most fruitful. You may find someone has a story that seems to fit but the person has no idea where the subject was located, other than somewhere local.

  17. Nigel Turnbull

    @Cell and @Steven
    Thanks for the updates. I will try to update the main page with the latest views on flax and water wheels.
    If you’re not on the mailing list you might want to send me your details.

  18. Steven Douglas

    The build quality was really sturdy,With similar looking brickwork They where various different sizes if memory serves, but all square. They seemed to be about 6 feet deep with draining and filling tunnels 2 each side and pipes all attached around it. I go over to NI on occasion to visit family, so I will take a wander down next time im over and grab a few pics.

  19. cell

    The Canmore site has 28 records of retting ponds, some of which are in the Falkirk area, with dates that are comparable with the appearance of the Blue Pool construction. One has the following description although admitaly the majority are not round.

    “A lint vat or tank used for the preparation of flax at Cleuchhead (NY 098 957), known locally as ‘the lint hole’. An enclosure, something like a well only wider, 12′ across, 42′ in circumference and perhaps 5′ deep, is now filled up and planted over with trees. There is a stone built conduit at the bottom, for the draining off of water after the line has been ‘retted’ or steeped.”

    Have you had a look at the pictures of the similar structure over on Hidden Glasgow? I think it is near cumbernauld and might be worth a visit to compare.

  20. Robert Murray

    Have you given any time to considering the elevation of the pool? and how it is almost on the same 100m contour line that a few field drains can be seen around the hill to the south and east. These drains appear to flow down to a pond just above the Denovan Road and from which a burn flows down to the Carron.
    Was there a mill on the river at this point that needed as much water as possible especially in times of drought? It could be that this pond was a storage reservoir or holding pond for such a mill, though not having seen it I don’t know that for sure but it was common for mills to harness as much water supply as they could get to ensure supply.
    I would advance the theory – and it ties in with your water tank – that the pool was a retention tank for a water supply and if not to this possible mill possibly to your earlier thoughts about supply the Larbert hospitals.
    I think that the clay pipes may draw in water from surrounding land (weak part of the theory admittedly ) but the main tank drew water from a natural spring at the base of it – hence the clarity and absence of stagnation – which what you would be expect it to be like – and that the water went through the tunnel to appear downhill somewhere. Look for a culvert in the vicinty of Pampwellgoat Wood ……. maybe!

    All the best Nigel and happy hunting

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Sound reasoning Robert. Mills did indeed crave for water during the dry spells. The only mill that I know of that was down stream of the Blue Water Pool was the Headswood Paper Mill, the lade for which has powered mills on that site for a long time. The current overflow of the Pool would not make much difference to a water wheel though this may not always have been the case.
      The ‘pool’ you refer to, just north of Denovan Road, is an old quarry at an area called Salt Pans (that name is another mystery). The stream rises at a point about half way between the Blue Water Pool and Thorniedyke Quarry (now filled in) to the west. This is joined by, as you noted, several streams in the general area. The Salt Pans quarry/pool might have been a good catchment reservoir for augmenting the supply to Headswood — I had never thought of that.
      To reinforce my water-tank theory, I tried to explain away the huge arch by making it a filter or strainer housing. I can just imagine the worker closing the valve after filling a large Bleaching Vat at the Calico Print Works and then the Blue Water Pool taking several hours to recover its level.
      I also considered the Pool being a drainage sump for surrounding boggy land — draining through 3 clay pipes and discharging through the arch to a stream. All bets are very much still on.

  21. Steven Douglas

    May I throw my tuppence in.
    When I was a lad, I lived in Antrim in northern ireland, there was loads of old ruined flax mills everywhere, (anyone who knows Antrim knows where they are) close by a lot of these old mills there was/is simaler looking pools but they where square shaped. . There is one not far from my mums house, last time I was down at that one it had no water in it. but that was over 15 years ago.
    We where told as kids not to go near them as they could be dangerous, especially if full of water, so naturally a curious 12 year old had to explore these big pools and old mills. I hope that helps a bit in solving the mystery.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Steven. It sounds like those tanks were custom built for the job. Can you remember how their build quality compared to the Torwood Blue Water Pool? I know very little of the process myself.
      As an interesting wee aside, Torwood Castle has been a ruin since before the 1880’s and the man who spent half his life restoring it, Gordon Millar, reckoned that the final demise of the castle was caused by a fire that started in bales of flax in the ground floor vaulted rooms. I doubt that the building was still in use as a dwelling house at that point.

  22. cell

    There issomedebate over on the hidden glasgow site about this pool, latest thinking is that it is alint or retting pool for soaking flax prior to processing.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for the input on a possible flax soaking tank. I discussed that idea with some people, from the Falkirk Local History Society, who had knowledge of the Flax Process. Their opinion was that flax was soaked in any hole in the ground that had fortuitously filled with water. The Torwood Blue Water Pool was a very expensive and expertly built piece of engineering with a big arch. That said, no ideas are discarded here — you never know what pieces of the puzzle will eventually just drop into place.

  23. Kenny

    I did notice the rustred “drum” whilst walking my dog yesterday. Having walked out to the round pond it is (in my opinion) definately not a natural feature. If you have a look at in on Bing Maps you can see what looks like an embankment round the pond. As for the blue pool, in the woods to the north east there appears to be visible on google earth what potentially could be the ruins of some sort of building???


    In the middle of the map (in a small clearing) you can see what looks to be a wall travelling from north to south then turning 90 degrees and then running off to the east before dissapearing back under cover of the trees.???

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      I see the north south line Kenny but I can’t make out what it is. Just as interesting is the bare earth in that area. I recently spoke to an ex local ploughman 1955-70 about the Blue Pool but after ten minutes of misunderstanding, it transpired that he had never seen the Blue Pool and was referring to a small brick building about 8 feet square with a flat concrete roof and a locked door. On one occasion when the Game Keeper had the door open to adjust a valve controlling water to several cattle troughs, this chap saw inside. He said he looked down into a hole and saw water running through. He could not remember exactly where the building was after all these years but his best guess put it round about the area you highlighted with the north south line.

  24. Robert M.

    It may have escaped your notice but the beehive structure you posit is reminiscent of Arthur’s O’On, a Roman building located in the same parish (recorded but demolished in 1743). It’s possible that the the local gentry were imitating that structure (of which they would have been doubtless aware) if they built the cap to the pool. Iadmit this is wild speculation but it could be worth a look.

    Anyway, here is a url on this if you are interested


    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that rather fascinating idea Robert. Someone could indeed have been emulating Arthur’s O’on (Oven). I did notice when I checked the details a moment ago that the internal diameter of Arthur’s O’on is the same as the Blue Water Pool which is exactly 20 feet.
      The O’on is another local mystery. The favourite theory seems to be a Temple. I spoke to an ex Carron employee a few weeks ago. He was a Works Manager who was often in the field overseeing various projects. He lives in and knows the area well. He has an interesting alternative theory that I have never before heard mentioned. He knows that there is an abundance of clear spring water flowing from the nearby hill and he reckons the O’on may have been a Roman Well.

  25. Kenny

    Was up walking the dog today and had a wee nosey at another curio id noticed on google maps…. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=56.039232,-3.878578&spn=0.001537,0.004801&t=f&z=18&ecpose=56.03906492,-3.87857821,481.48,0,2.92,0

    Almost a third of a mile north of the “blue pool” is a near perfectly circular pond with an islan in the middle, the sorta thing you see in ornamental/landscaped gardens or in a park round a country house. No house nearbye and it is sitting in the middle of recently cleard forestry commision ground??? Some link between the two???(either histoically or physically??)

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Well spotted Kenny (no pun intended). It is a strange shaped pool indeed. It can just be spotted on Google Satellite but is not indicated on Ordnance Survey maps. It is about the same level as our Blue Water Pool. I could not even hazard a guess as to whether it is a natural feature or not. Just to the east of this ‘Doughnut Pool’, is an old rusty metal storage vessel shaped like a kettle drum about 3 feet in diameter and about the same in depth. Another unexplained item just lying about!

  26. Paul Williams

    Hi Nigel
    Brilliant site!Brought back many memories of when we were younger.Couple of friends of mine swam in (The Well) about 15 years ago.Middle of summer and baltic according to them.I also remember planks of wood floating on the surface every time we went up.Need to get back up soon to see this fabled archway.Keep up the good work mate.

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks Paul. During the summer the best time to see the arch is around 10 a.m. when the sun is shining right on the arch opening — bit like an Indiana Jones moment.
      I aint been up there since the end of British Summer Time but I reckon the best view currently will be at 11 a.m. but the sun is so low in the sky that it might not touch the arch — the top of which is about 4 metres down.
      I have been busy with 3d graphics recently for a history project and hope to use my newfound skills to knock of a 3d scaled diagram with sections sometime early in 2011.

  27. Student

    Currently Studying Archaeology at Uni…. The “pool” bears a striking resemblance to a Lime Kiln. Are there any sorts of clay pits or quarries in the area???

    1. Nigel Turnbull

      Thanks for that Ken. The blue pool is a circular hole in the ground with a big arch at the bottom and looks very similar to a Lime Kiln or Charcoal Kiln. Other than the Blue Pool build quality being much higher than any Kiln I have seen, our big arch, which would be the doorway, is 5 metres below ground level and would make for some very awkward access — mind you, I still quite like the Charcoal Kiln theory.
      There was an old lime mine and kiln just half a mile from the Blue Water Pool — my new politically correct name — nothing remains of that kiln. There was a clay mine to the north — it supplied material for Stein’s Refractory works near Bonnybridge. There were a couple of stone quarries that supplied the building industry from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Other than that, this area has been pretty barren of structures on the old maps.

  28. Nigel Turnbull

    No matter what theory anyone comes up with, it must address the question, “What was the purpose of the large arch?”
    I will try to get a line drawing with sizes up as soon as I get time.
    Please keep the ideas coming.

    Being from Dunipace, I know this feature as The Blue Pool. As this investigation has progressed, I have found there are more people (Plean&Torwood area) who know it as The Blue Water.
    I am now trying a new hybrid title — The Torwood Blue Water Pool.

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