In 1960 I was employed as an apprentice electrician
by E.M.MacKenzie & Co. of 1025 Argyle St. at the top of
Finnieston St. To get there I used to come from Arklet Rd.
in Govan, get off the bus and walk through the tunnel as it
was cheaper and I used to be able to “skin” my
fag money!!!. I did this on a regular basis,each way,depending
where I was working, until 1963.What a dismal walk as the
tunnel was lit only by incandescent light bulbs well spaced
out with puddles of water along the route, the stairs were
no problem as I was still fit from all the walking we did
as kids. I believe I heard rats scurrying but it could have
been my imagination as I never saw any,maybe at that point
I was running too fast!!! I am amazed at the number of Southsiders
who didn’t know the old tunnel existed. Anyway thanks
for your pictures they brought back old memories,now I don’t
have to describe it to sceptics .The tunnel must have been
a tremendous boon to the people of the time.As they say,a
picture is worth a thousand words.
I really enjoy your site, thanks Roy T.
Thanks for your article and photos of the old Glasgow harbour
tunnel. At the weekend in the late 60s we used to use the
tunnel to cross from Queens Dock to Princes Dock to see all
the ships in the docks and at the quays. It was a great short
cut across the Clyde for pedestrians. There were also a couple
of small passenger ferries at Finnieston and Kelvinhaugh nearby.
Sadly the ships are now gone, the docks are mostly filled
in and the tunnel is now closed.
I was born at 28 mclean st. In the plantation. An i alwis
used the tunnel, ti' get o'er ti' anderson. I ran lik the
clappers fur wance a wis walkin doon the sters. A herd sumbudy
talkin behind the big pipe, so a wusny hingin aroon ther.
A shot up em' sters at 100 mile an oor, an didny stoap, untul
a gote hame. Boy wis a frightened oot ma wee heed,but that
wis yesturday,i'm aff ti' the barra's. Wit a smashin day oot,luvly
I seem to recall the southern rotunda being used as a science
museum in the late 1980s/early 1990s for a couple of years.
Would anyone be able to verify this.
Andy Hamilton [13/06/2003]
The southern Rotunda was used during the 1988 Glasgow
Garden Festival as the 'Dome of Discovery'. I think it may
have outlived the actual garden festival for a few months
before finally closing down. There was a Royal Naval frigate
alongside the south bank near to here for a year or so in
the early 1990's. It was open to the public for a small admission
fee, cant remember what she was called HMS Coventry or something
like that?. It saw action in the Falklands War and some battle
damage was visble on its exterior.
I did a cctv survey from the south rotunda which involves
carrying a camera on a cable from one end to the other, this
was 2001,the old wooden flooring has diminished quite a bit
but is still walkable also a fair bit of the tiling on the
walls are gone their is a tile though that has an inscription
on it and this has been preserved if memory serves,it has
changed a bit from the 70s photo but still fantastic, im not
sure who the client was but i may be able to find out through
my work as their is a video of the full length of tnnel from
south to boarded up door at north rotunda.
I am surprised to learn that the vehicular traffic ceased
in 1943, because I was born in 1942, and when I was a youngster
in short trousers, my big brother James took me through the
pedestrian tunnel. I calculate that I must have been about
7 or 8 - let's say 1950 maximum. I could swear that whilst
I waited at the northern entrance, I saw horses and carts
being lowered and raised in the vehicular shafts.
In the late 1980's I happened to be at the SECC, and shared
a taxi-cab with 3 others, one of whom was an architect and
another ran a nationally known engineering concern. When we
passed the Northern Rotunda (by now a posh restaurant) I mentioned
to the engineer that he'd have been interested in the fact
the this tunnel was a fine example of Victorian hydraulics,
and turned to the taxi-driver for confirmation. My credentials
went out of the window when he replied that he never knew
the Rotunda was an entrance to a tunnel in the first place,
and what the hell did the word hydraulics mean? Sad. But true.
George Mair [08/09/2003]
I was born at 16 Plantation st and have fond memories of
the old tunnels they were a magical place for weans to play
as you went in one end and came out in a new world. Plantation
st would be full of horses and carts parked,while the carters
had lunch at the Stag resturant, or drinks at the Camden or
Ferry bar each on the corner of Plantation St and Govan Rd
as this was in the 50s the carts came via the vehicular ferry.
My grannie spoke of some incident that happend regarding the
lifts that involved lose of life,but the details of this I
dont remember. I do remember that on each entrance to the
pedestrain tunnels was a box or office for the janitors or
watchmen their job seem to revolve around chasing us weans
out of the tunnel and each sweeping exactly half way .great
Tom Calikes, Adelaide, South Australia[14/10/2003]
I returned to Glasgow in 1954 and walked through the tunnel
and there was traffic at that time
J.E. Anderson [19/10/2003]
Further to George Mairs memories. I was born in 1943 and
am sure I was through the tunnel with an uncle about 1948-49
and I seem to remember a horse and cart and a lift on that
Ronnie Taylor [12/10/2003]
Thank you Ronnie, I was beginning to think I was born 10
years before what the date was on my birth certificate!
George Mair [05/11/2003]
I visited the Dome Of Discovery in the summer of 1990, two
years after the Garden Festival. At the time the HMS Glasgow,
a Destroyer, was docked beside the south rotunda.
C Francis [23/11/2003]
My Grandfaither was a watchman at the Plantation docks in
the 50's 60's and as a child I would go down to see him in
the "Sheds" as they were called at the weekends
after school.This was before shipping containers and I was
always playing around the "Cranes"and "Doodlebugs"
(Electric carts and forklifts of the day)Anyway I would play
down in the tunnels at Finnieston docks where ships flying
the flags of dozens of countries would be berthed.After going
into the entrance of the tunnel,there is a wooden wall going
down the stairs on either side and I used to climb up on it
and look down into the deep hole,my breath taken away at the
depth on this water dripping cavern.I would take a wee piece
of my "sanny wae me" and feed the big black rats
that were scurrying along the huge metal pipe that ran the
length of the dimmly lit tunnel.After seeing pictures of "My
playground" it brought back great memories and I thought
to share just one with all.
Awe ra best.
Andrew McCartney [17/12/2003]
I was in the tunnel about 1985-6 it was derelict then but
me and a friend had heard about it from relatives and as 2
curious teenagers wee set off to explore after a hard climb
on the north rotunda we made our descent down a ramshackle
cast iron staircase to the lower level and indeed the tunnel
was there alongwith plenty furry inhabitants.
We then wlked the tunnel in pitch blackness until my mate
Brian found out the wooden beamed floor was incomplete i can
still smell the mud he had up to his thighs to this day and
had a chuckle when i found this page.
Just before the pedestrian tunnel closed to the public in
the 70s, I persuaded a few pals to walk through the tunnel
and come back by the Govan ferry (which was also closing).
It was quite a walk for 9/10 year olds and I don't think we
told our parents! The south rotunda was used as Nardini's
restaurant during the Garden Festival and was then turned
into the Dome of Discovery afterwards. Perhaps it would have
been more popular if it had been cheaper...
I was delighted today when I "came accross" your
site about the Finnieston Tunnel. I worked for 35 years in
Lancefield Street starting in 1966. At that time, the tunnel
was open to pedestrians, the Finnieston ferry flied its way
regularly accross the Clyde and it was sited about 200 yards
to the east of the tunnel.
Harland and wolff's engine works were sited on the west side
of Lancefield Street and the Finnieston Crane was still in
regular use (it had a lifting capacity of 175 tons and, surprisingly,
eas built as recently as 1938.
As young apprentices, we would regularly walk along to the
tunnel and would go down the wide wooden stairs which zig
zagged all the way down to the "tube" entrance.
It was a dimly lit, dank and eerie place to be in and I never
ventured through on my own. Once through, we would climb the
stairs at the other end and then come back on the ferry (it
was free) Sometimes, whilst walking through the tunnel, we
would come accross a down and out lying against one on the
concrete supports which carried the water pipe throughout
the length of the tunnel.
I have always been fascinated by old tunnels in general.
I recall very clearly the construction of the "tube"
It was made up of many cast iron segments which were then
bolted together with caulked joints. Water would constantly
drip through the joints adding to the eerieness of the "journey".
Would one of them fail? Would we be drowned or would we get
out? i frequently looked over the high vertically planked
balustrade that accompanied the stairs going down and the
hugh cylindrical "hole", which is the same diameter
as the Rotunda Building on top, extended considerably lower
than the depth of the running tunnels themselves. I always
thought that he reason for that was so that, in the event
of a "tube" rupture causing immediate flooding of
the "tube", the water would have to fill the lower
sections of the Rotundas on either side of the river before
starting to flood the stairs therby allowing persons on the
stairs to escape.
Incidentally, I believe the elevators supplied by the Otis
Elecator Company of America were the first that Company had
supplied equipment to the UK. People will recognise them as
almost a household name in lifts nowadays. Thankyou for providing
a very interesting site and I hope to read much more about
the Tunnel, Crane etc in the future.
Edward A Hunter [18/01/04]
Just read the stories relating to the tunnels incl jimmt
mcgee`s, i lived in kinning park fron 1964 to 1978 and i often
used the tunnel during my school day while doggin it (playing
truant, skipping school)and i and a pal called jerry used
to sit down there behind the big pipe for hours reading commics
while the school was on, we sometimes surfaced at the anderson
side to go to the bilsland/mothers pride bakeries to collect
(gingies)empty ginger bottles to get money to buy sweets and
commics to read while down there, i`d love to see down there
again... i thought they filled it with concrete years ago
Ian Masson [26/01/2004]
I lived in Cessnock until 1959. My pals and me used to go
down to the river side. One of our games was to start at the
South Rotunda. One would run to catch the Finnieston passenger
ferry. The other would run doon the stairs and through the
tunnel. Then we met up at the North end. Then we would switch
it around. I was born in '46 and can remember seeing vehicles
going down into the tunnel.
Sandy Campbell [27/01/2004]
In the late 80's early 90's I began work as a yts in the
fancy restaurant opened in the north rotunda. Infact it was
two restaurants, a wine bar and a cocktail bar spread over
4 levels, the wine bar on the ground floor, italian restaurant
on 1st, french on 2nd and the cocktail bar on the top floor.
I remember when I was 16 and had just started my grandad gave
me the story of what the rotundas were and so forth. Not until
today have I finally found confirmation that all he said was
100% accurate. I guess I was a little ignorant and naive at
16 and didnt fully appreciate the history being shared with
me. Had I known fully then what i've read today then it wuld
have been a far more interesting place to work. I'd have goe
looking for that bloody tunnel!!.
G Connolly [30/01/2004]
When I was about 10 in the late 1950's, my father took my
brother and I through the pedestrian tunnel from south to
north. I remember it was a bit wet underfoot but otherwise
fine. Later, in the late 1970's, when I was a police sergeant
in Cranstonhill Police Office, I sent two officers to intercept
two men who had stolen tools in Govan and had been seen entering
the pedestrian tunnel. The men were caught and brought to
the office. I remember they were wet up to their knees....and
not a little surprised at being caught!!
I was brought up in Elliot Street, just round from the tunnel.
I was a member of the 17th Boys Brigade Company, and we had
a PT class every Monday night in Finnieston School. Occasionally
the officer in charge of the class would take us for a run,
down Elliot St, along Stobcross Street, down the stairs, along
the tunnel, round the building, and back to the school the
same way. As a fit teenager, I managed the circuit without
any problem, but even thinking about it now makes me exhausted!
This was in the mid 60's just before the Kingston Bridge was
built and the character of Anderston was changed forever.
I still visit the rotunda often....The Yen Japanese restaurant
there is lovely and I would recommend it to anyone. Like most
people, I'm surprised to hear that there is still a tunnel
which hasn't been filled, but it was bad enough walking through
it in the 60's, it must be a spooky place now!
Jim Cairns [13/02/2004]
I am an interior design student and my next project regards
a revamp of the south rotunda. Website has great info for
research. Thanks. I would appreciate if people could give
me feedback on what they would like to see the south rotunda
M Friel [14/02/2004]