School children and local residents in Braehead will get an opportunity to find out about Stirling’s first ever public swimming pool at the end of the month – but will first have to find it and then get their hands dirty uncovering it.
On Friday 31st August, children from Braehead Primary and Fallin Primary will be involved in a “Big Dig” on the site on the grounds of the former Millhall Colliery, where Stirling’s first ever swimming pool opened in July 1913. Then on Saturday 1st September, local residents will get a chance to continue the investigation in the second of this two day event.
When it opened, the ‘Stirling Journal’ newspaper described the swimming pool as 25 yards long and 12 & a half yards wide and built of ‘nicely finished white glazed brick work’. It was paid for by a donation from the Fallin Public House Society.
In August 1913 the first public swimming gala was held at the pool and 70 spectators watched a number of races and events. Trophies were presented, including to H Miles, who won the first 100 yard race. By 1917, the Stirling Observer reported that more than 400 people were paying an annual subscription to use the facility.
Poor industrial relations and low pay for miners in the 1920s meant that the facility struggled and eventual closed. By 1942, it had disappeared from Ordinance Survey maps and slowly disappeared from the landscape and memories of local residents.
No pictures of the swimming pool are known to exist – could you or a relative have something in a box in the attic?
The local Community Council, along with Community Development Trustee and ward councillor Chris Kane, have teamed up with Guard Archaeology and Stirling Council Archaeologist Murray Cook to see what, if anything, remains of the swimming pool.
Councillor Chris Kane says,
“Part of me hopes that the pit owners simply backfilled the pool and it is still there, waiting for us to dust it off and fill it back up. But with work going on at the colliery until the late 1950s, more likely the heavy machinery on the site will have churned it into rubble. I’ll be happy if we find some fragments of glazed bricks. More importantly we’ll have hundreds of school pupils and local residents finding out more about a fascinating part of our community’s social and industrial history.”
Community Council Chairperson Wendy Mclean says,
“A few years ago the Community Council produced the “Braehead & Broomridge Heritage Trail” which talks about our community connections with everything from the Battle of Bannockburn to our local World Champion Pipe band. At the time we didn’t realise that we also had Stirling’s first swimming pool and so we’re going find out as much as we can and add it as a stop on our already packed and fascinating local heritage trail.”
Local interest in the swimming pool was rekindled when local historian Craig Mair published an article in the ‘Forth Natural Historian” journal, entitled “Fallin’s Gothenburg Public House and Stirling’s Forgotten Swimming Pool”. You can access a copy of the article here (it’s in volume 34, page 145).
For more information on the Braehead & Broomridge heritage trail, click here.
Date: Saturday 1 September 2018 (note Friday is for school visits only)
Start / End: Millhall, bing, off Millhall Road (Springkerse side), Stirling
Directions: Turn off the A095 Kerse Road at the “Arnold Clark Renault Garage”. After garage, turn right just before “Action Lawn and Leisure” and follow road until you see a path with a security barrier. The dig site should be visible approximately 30m beyond the barrier. Conditions: paved access to dig site. Dig site is in a field, approximately 10m from paved road. There is no toilet on site, with the nearest publicly accessible toilets at Springkerse Retail Park ¾ of a mile away.
Booking; while you can simply turn up, it would be helpful if you could email if you would like to take part.