Glasgow Uni Secret Tunnels

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Postby Delmont St Xavier » Sat Jan 27, 2007 1:57 am

I wish I could publicly display the name of the person but for various reasons I am unable to do so. However an academic of the University used to regularly take groups down to the old mine seams adn it was a practised that continued for some time.

Unfortunately, Health and Safety became involved and measured the air quality, the fire escape routes, etc, etc and put an end to the tunnel investigations. As the air quality was poor and the deeper into the tunnel the quality became worse and without proper ventillation the trips were discontinued.

Unfortunately again, I am unable to produce as evidence some of the fantastic pictures that I have seen of these trips and I have asked the person concerned to log on and post but he is reluctant to do so. (???)

However, from all accounts it is a chance in a lifetime thing to do and I would love to have explored some of those old mines, however 'dangerous.'
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Postby brickwall » Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:21 am

Simba wrote:Where's the last picture? Bricks look a bit like Joe Black but can't work out what they'd be excavating for a new building that close to it.


Well spotted. It is indeed Joe black.

The photo is of a hole that was discovered in 1948 when some of the construction collapsed. According to my grandpa engineers had to be brought in to stabilise the ground workings and other mines were discovered and treated accordingly. You can see a man sitting on a bogey being pulled up the slope which was the origional enterance.

After 1954 geology students would go down the mines as it was handy having these on your own doorstep. However, as Delmont says, todays
H & S make it very difficult.
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Postby nodrog » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:32 am

I'm quite annoyed to see those photos of the Chemistry mine posted here with no link to or copyright mention to their original source - the Chemistry Department website. I'm especially annoyed because I wrote that page and scanned in those photos myself from the departmental archives just last month - the original page is here:

http://www.chem.gla.ac.uk/dept/history/buildings.html

Brickwall: It's generally considered polite to at least give the source of images you are posting, especially when the pictures are not your own and are taken without permission from a different website.

Simba: The last photo above was taken when only 2-thirds of what is now the Joseph Black building had been constructed - due to the outbreak of war in 1939, the construction of the final wing (now called A-wing) was postponed, and when construction restarte, the mine workings were discovered - the pic above was taken in about 1948 - the bit in the photo is now the ramp up to one of the main entrances.

The archives have a lot more information about the mine; including a map of it and details about access; unfortunately I can't post such information online for obvious reasons...

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Postby brickwall » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:28 pm

Yep. Sorry about that nodrog.

If your interested I can post alot more. My grandpa wrote so much stuff for various departments at Glasgow Uni since the 30's, mostly history and engineering. He did a lot of research on the mines some uncompleted when he died. He has his own collection in the Mitchell and also a transport collection in Kirkintilloch Library which is huge; that one took 5 years for one poor guy to collate.

Is it just the Uni area or mines in general that you are interested in?
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Postby Socceroo » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:08 pm

I like the Joe Black building very much. A real hidden gem. We'll need to get the Western Infirmary flattened so that we can see it better. Mind you according to some politicians and NHS Executives we might not need to wait too long.

I've worked with two Building Contractors in the University Campus previously, and have seen that there are a number of mines which are within and which cut across the Campus at various points.

I used to be familiar with some of the names of them. Not so much because of working in the University, but because some of them ran across the West End and if you are doing any new Construction in the area at all you had to be aware of them. They are not all charted.

There is one further up from the Joe Black building which we built over and partly filled in at the bend on University Avenue at University Place, i think this would have met up with the mines under the Joe Black building. I was told that the mines under the Joe Black building run towards the banks of the Kelvin.

The other big mine in the University that i recall being told about from some of the older colleagues that i worked with was the one under the University Library which they came across in the late 1960's / early 70's when building the Library. Apparently they were pumping Grout and Concrete into a shaft for weeks.

Further north from the University and heading up towards the River Kelvin at Belmont Street bridge, the area is absolutely peppered with old mines, which again sometimes exited on the south side of the Kelvin Gorge.

You may recall reading that the "Bookends" of Belmont Crescent came down not once but twice. In the 1870's they fell down resulting in a landmark court case following the death of Stone Masons and then in the 1970's they were ordered to be pulled down due to settlement damage.

The houses in Belmont Street on it's east side which met with with Great Western Road were propped for years before being demolished due to settlement.

Hamilton Park Avenue it's the west side was propped for years due to settlement. I could go on and on with a long list of streets in the west end that have been grouted.
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Postby nodrog » Sun Jan 28, 2007 3:52 pm

Socceroo wrote:I like the Joe Black building very much. A real hidden gem. We'll need to get the Western Infirmary flattened so that we can see it better.


I'll second that - the view from my office in the Joe Black would be improved enormously!
It is a nice building, the JB, despite all the undignified alterations and the hundreds of extract pipes covering it now.
One of the reasons it is a hidden gem is it's hard to get a good view of it; its so tightly surrounded by other buildings. It wasn't supposed to be that way - the plans I've seen showed that what's now the OTC fronting onto Uni Place was supposed to be demolished to make a new open square in front of the JB. Never happened sadly!

As for the mine, the paperwork I've seen suggests several shafts were filled in or blocked off in the 1940s; some more in the 1980s refurb. Two main shafts remain, and a few side-tunnels - or at least they did until recently; a lot of concrete was pumped down there when they were re-building the Botany building after it went on fire.

Brickwall: apology accepted! I'm sure i'm not alone in being keen to see some of your fathers work in this area...

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Postby Socceroo » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:01 pm

I worked on the OTC building when it was getting refurbished in the late 1980's. That's when i first had a real look at the Joe Black building.

If the OTC had been flattened it would have created a nice precinct in front of the Joe Black building to really appreciate it.

I recall the original OTC had rifle ranges under it for the Cadets to let loose. When it was refurbished it was stripped back to the outer shell and i think new Concrete Tubes were put in as a rifle range.
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Postby brickwall » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm

One of the problems I've found is that the mines were owned by various companies and they would run their mines as close together as they could get away with. I remember being told that there was problems under Charles Macs old house and that particular mine had run into another mine.

This afternoon I started pulling out some of the old ' stuff ' my Grandpa left and have only so far found info on mines relevant to Craigmaddie Muir and the Linn Caves and also some in Jordanhill, Anniesland and Drumchapel. Will just have to dig deeper ( no pun int. ). He did own some property in Kirklee road and told me there was serious problems with the buildings on the corner on Kiklee Road, that's the bit on the South side of Gt Western Road, and Belhaven Terrace. Was this buttressed back in the 80's ?

Nodrog: my apologies again, have an e-beer:

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Postby gordon » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:44 pm

I'd be interested in the Drumchapel stuff, whereabouts were they?
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Postby Simba » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:57 pm

Socceroo wrote:I like the Joe Black building very much. A real hidden gem. We'll need to get the Western Infirmary flattened so that we can see it better. Mind you according to some politicians and NHS Executives we might not need to wait too long.

I've worked with two Building Contractors in the University Campus previously, and have seen that there are a number of mines which are within and which cut across the Campus at various points.

I used to be familiar with some of the names of them. Not so much because of working in the University, but because some of them ran across the West End and if you are doing any new Construction in the area at all you had to be aware of them. They are not all charted.

There is one further up from the Joe Black building which we built over and partly filled in at the bend on University Avenue at University Place, i think this would have met up with the mines under the Joe Black building. I was told that the mines under the Joe Black building run towards the banks of the Kelvin.

The other big mine in the University that i recall being told about from some of the older colleagues that i worked with was the one under the University Library which they came across in the late 1960's / early 70's when building the Library. Apparently they were pumping Grout and Concrete into a shaft for weeks.

Further north from the University and heading up towards the River Kelvin at Belmont Street bridge, the area is absolutely peppered with old mines, which again sometimes exited on the south side of the Kelvin Gorge.

You may recall reading that the "Bookends" of Belmont Crescent came down not once but twice. In the 1870's they fell down resulting in a landmark court case following the death of Stone Masons and then in the 1970's they were ordered to be pulled down due to settlement damage.

The houses in Belmont Street on it's east side which met with with Great Western Road were propped for years before being demolished due to settlement.

Hamilton Park Avenue it's the west side was propped for years due to settlement. I could go on and on with a long list of streets in the west end that have been grouted.


The story that I have heard about the mines in the library (which seems a bit unlikely but the numbers support it) is that they started building it, but it kept subsiding and that's why the entrance level is level 2 rather than level 1 as was originally planned. True?
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Postby Socceroo » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:20 pm

Not true no. ::): The general idea before you start going skywards with big building like that is to make sure that the foundations are settled.

If i recall what i was told correctly, what happened was that they knew there was mines etc but underestimated the depth and volume of grout required to fill the voids. This is quite normal in certain areas of Glasgow, you can only ascertain so much from old mining maps and taking test cores.

The other thing that can happen when you are grouting is that you find the grout goes into other places where you least expect it like BT boxes, drains, shop basements, pub cellars and Dial House basement etc :roll:

One thing that i found interesting when i was working up near the Kelvin in the early nineties was being told that not all the mines were coal mines. If they were not all coal mines, then what were they extracting?
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Postby gordon » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:32 pm

Iron ore or something maybe? Remember looking at an old map of Gushetfaulds and the site of the Govan Iron Works, it had a mine right beside it. Could have been coal right enough, but conceivable they could have been connected.

Not knowing anything about Glasgow's geology makes this a wild guess.
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Postby Simba » Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:05 pm

Socceroo - I overheard this about a year ago when a Freshers' guide was telling the new students about the library. Never thought it was true but since we were on the subject of the mines I thought I'd just see! His story about the floor numbers wouldn't really fit anyway, as wasn't the old entrance to the library on level 3?
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Postby brickwall » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:52 pm

gordon wrote:Iron ore or something maybe? Remember looking at an old map of Gushetfaulds and the site of the Govan Iron Works, it had a mine right beside it. Could have been coal right enough, but conceivable they could have been connected.

Not knowing anything about Glasgow's geology makes this a wild guess.



I think they used to produce lime from the....er....limestone, and if Ican cofirm this on the map there was a mine round about where the footy pitches are, the ones below Ledcameroch Road and between the railwaiy. There were also mines around the Drumry Road but I don't know what they produced. However, it appears that limestone, coal and iron ore are found close to each other so it was probably a bit of all three.

In the 1600's and 1700's iron works were naturally close to coal and ore mines until the age of the large locomotives. Many of the mines in the west of Glasgow go back, at least partially, to the 1600's.

BTW, I have found a few air vents for mines. They are all out towards Bardowie and Craigmaddie and I would love to find one as close to Glasgow as possible. Does anybody know of one? Even if all that remains is just an old slab in the ground, it would make my year.
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Postby scallopboy » Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:59 pm

There are some old mines up the Crow road over the Campsies. Turn right at the gate on the bad bend and go for a wonder. Lots of limestone about.
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