Glasgow Tunnel Adventure Part 2: Botanic Gardens Station

Written by  on November 5, 2014 

Update: I’ve now created an online 3D model of the station so you can “explore” it from the comfort of your browser. Click here to see it!

Sometimes, you get the chance to finally explore somewhere you’ve been desperate to get inside for years but thought you’d never be able to. In the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to have two of these chances: namely, Scotland Street Tunnel in Edinburgh, and now Botanic Gardens Station in Glasgow.

In fact, on this explore we actually traversed two derelict tunnels (Botanic Gardens and Great Western Road) and saw three abandoned stations (Kelvinbridge, Botanic Gardens and Kirklee). The number of stations and tunnels in Glasgow named “Kelvinsomething” can get quite confusing; there are tunnels named Kelvindale, Kelvinside, Kelvingrove and Kelvinhaugh (all but the last are now disused). There is also a Kelvinside Station which is right next to a tunnel, but not the Kelvinside Tunnel! Kelvinbridge doesn’t have a tunnel named after it, but it makes up for it by giving its name to two separate stations: one still in use on the Glasgow Subway, and the other a former station on the old Glasgow Central Railway.


The earliest part of the Glasgow Central Railway ran from Stobcross to Maryhill, and before it was even completed in 1894, the company had been swallowed up into the Caledonian Railway’s ever-expanding empire. This section of railway ran mostly underground, through tunnels that are still in place today, and there were three intermediate stations. The line closed completely in 1964, though the three stations had already been closed for years by this time.

At Kelvinbridge, the line crossed the river on this wide low metal bridge, now part of the Kelvin Walkway. The station platforms once extended over the bridge.

These unassuming metal doors underneath the site of the Kelvinbridge Station building mark the route of the line…

… on the other side, parts of the platforms and steps that used to give access from the main building up above still survive.

The whole area is now piled high with rubbish and not particularly picturesque. We didn’t spend long at this station.

At the back of Kelvinbridge Station, the line passes through a short cutting and into the Great Western Road Tunnel. This tunnel is 700 yards long and, apart from a bend at each end, is exactly underneath the road of the same name on the surface.

A boxed in sewer passes overhead just inside the tunnel mouth, demanding some unusual skewed brick work in the tunnel lining.

The tunnel is very quiet and calm, and as we walked through it was hard to believe that one of Glasgow’s busiest thoroughfares was just metres above our heads. A rusted sign on the north wall indicates the position of Bank Street, one of the few clues to what lies above.

The tunnel was reasonably dry compared to some. Of course, it has to be maintained in good condition for the safety of the busy street up above. In places, stalactites had started to form in the minerals dripping through the roof.

At its western end, Great Western Road Tunnel leads straight into the highlight of our day: Botanic Gardens Station. There is a short section of cut-and-cover tunnel with flat metal girder roof between the brick-lined bored tunnel and the open space of the station – this is where the line passes beneath the busy cross roads outside the Gardens.

Botanic Gardens Station closed in 1939. The impressive pavilion-style main building on street level had a variety of uses from then on, but unfortunately it was ruined by a major fire in 1970 and then demolished. More recently, a plan was put forward to build a replica of the station building on the original site, housing a nightclub, but opposition to the idea of a nightclub in the Gardens put an end to this.

Today all that remains are the subterranean platforms. Visitors to the gardens can look down through the ventilation openings onto the platform area below, and a sign on the railings explains what they are looking at. The very top of the Botanic Gardens Tunnel portal can just be seen in the brickwork at the far end. There are three ventilation openings, one just inside the gardens and the other two further in, with the station building originally standing between them.

Viewed from platform level, the station is a sight to behold. Although the tiled walls are coated in graffiti and the trackbed is now seriously overgrown, there is plenty of interest still to see.

The stairs that gave access down to the platforms are still in place on both sides, though since the loss of the main building they are now blocked off at the top.

At the eastern end of the station is a more recent development. These sturdy metal brackets have been installed to strengthen the roof as it nears the busy road junction up above.

At the western end, the line disappears into another tunnel – the Botanic Gardens or Kirklee Tunnel. The photo above shows the view looking back through the fence into the station from this tunnel.

At just over 200 yards, Botanic Gardens Tunnel is much shorter than Great Western Road. It burrows underneath the Gardens themselves on a gentle curve round to the north, exiting into a leafy cutting by the River Kelvin.

A short distance from the portal, the disused and overgrown platforms of Kirklee Station can still be seen. These two stations were unusually closely spaced and even on foot it only takes a few minutes to get from one to the other.

The line continued north from here to Maryhill. Much of it has been built over, but there are occasional remnants still visible – for example, the abutments of this bridge which used to take the railway across Ford Road, just outside the Botanic Gardens.

I think I went a bit overboard on the photos this time, sorry! But I found this location so interesting that I wanted to cover it in as much detail as possible.

Category : Transport β€’ Underground


64 Responses

  1. Bruce D Allen says:

    Thanks for these fascinating photos–not overboard at all. Do you know what the archways now occupied by the Inn Deep pub were originally? I had assumed they were part of a rail or subway line, but I can find no photographic or cartographic evidence of such.

    • gcat says:

      Due to their construction and their closeness to the old Kelvinbridge Station, it seems likely they were something to do with the railway. I don’t think there were ever actually tracks in them though, as none of the old maps I’ve seen show anything like that and the layout on the ground today also makes it look unlikely. It’s possible they were built at the same time as the station and used for storage or similar.

  2. Ritchie says:

    Been along those tunnels many years ago – they’d make a great set of art galleries!

  3. Melissa says:

    Not over board on pictures at all! It looks really interesting and would love to go and take some of my own snaps. How is it you got into the tunnels?

  4. Z says:

    I would be interested in taking some images on the old train platform under the botanics. The entrance in the botanics now has metal sheeting over it. Are there any other entrances in that aren’t boarded over?


    • gcat says:

      I don’t think so, unfortunately… realistically the only other way in is at Kelvinbridge, but that’s normally locked up behind big metal doors.

  5. Zena says:

    Hi, photos look amazing! I’ve wanted to go into the tunnels for ages, particualrly to see the botanic station, how did you get in?

  6. Zlata says:


    I really enjoyed reading your report. I have the previously mentioned question: what is the best way to get in? Did you meet any other explorers underground? πŸ™‚

    • gcat says:

      No, we didn’t meet anyone else down there… did get a scare on our way out when we saw movement under the fence and it looked as if someone was out there waiting for us, but it turned out to be just a squirrel, thankfully.

      I don’t think there’s an easy way in at the moment, unfortunately. Both ends were pretty well fenced up last time I looked.

  7. katie says:

    Gorgeous Pictures, thank you for sharing…. I am looking for a location exactly like the tunnels, in Glasgow for a shoot…did you have to break in incognito? Thank you, Kx

    • gcat says:

      Incognito, yes… we didn’t break in though, just did a bit of climbing πŸ™‚ .

    • Stuart says:

      Tunnel open at Kelvindale, bottom of cleveden road walk along canal tow path towards maryhill then after a hundred yards drop down to your right and you can walk along tunnel to the exit at the river kelvin, only a short tunnel.

  8. Jack McArdle says:

    Great stuff. When I was a kid we used to walk through these tunnels for a dare. Do you know if a map exists showing the tunnels, especially the Thornwood and Hyndland ones

    • gcat says:

      There’s this map where someone has drawn all the disused railway tunnels in the west end area onto a present day map. There’s also the National Library of Scotland site which has a lot of older maps, some of them are detailed enough to show the tunnels – this one shows the two you mentioned when they were still in use.

  9. 1605 says:

    Me and my friends are meeting up tomorrow hoping to get into botanic gardens station. Do you think there’s a way in apart from going through the other stations? Lovely photos by the way!

    • gcat says:

      Realistically the only ways in are through the tunnel entrances as it’s a hell of a drop down through the vents! There’s some climbing involved though (unless you get lucky and someone’s left the door open). Good luck πŸ™‚ .

  10. Caitlin McGrath says:


    I’m doing my geography dissertation on the Botanic Gardens abandoned railway station and would love to ask you a few questions about your experience of it! if your interested could you give me a wee email please and I will let you know more about it. It would be great to hear from you !

    Thanks !

  11. Hi,

    Really loved reading through this. I was hoping to get down there myself and take some photos. Would you be able to let me know the best route into the tunnels?

    Thanks so much!

    • gcat says:

      Glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ . I don’t think there’s an easy way in right now, unfortunately… last time I was there both ends were quite well locked up.

  12. Jack says:

    Hello, great photos and such an interesting site to read about! Would you be able to tell me where exactly the entrance to the Botanic gardens tunnel is? The ‘leafy cutting by the River Kelvin’?. Hoping to go down there this week. Thanks

    • gcat says:

      It’s at the north end of the gardens near the Kirklee gate, behind the bushes. You’ll see the remains of the old railway bridge just outside the gardens, the cutting is to the south from there.

  13. Jamie Macfarlane says:

    Went down yesterday ( 14th Feb 2016 ) getting over the huge steel sheeted fence was a lot easier than it looked, the tunnels are increasingly dusty the further in you go and I suggest bringing a face mask, the station is overgrown and full of dead pidgeons, only went as far in as halfway down the tunnel
    After the first station at the botanics before we decided to turn back due to lack of light ( we weren’t really prepared to go in ) heading back today thoe with torches and such so will post pictures then !

    • Kit says:

      I plan to make a trip to Glasgow to visit the botanic gardens on Tuesday, would you be able to give me any directions to entrances that will get you into the tunnels! I’m doing a shoot for my photography project there, and any information would be really valuable! I’ve replied to your comment because it’s the most recent one on the thread!

  14. HJ says:


  15. SM says:

    The Kirklee one can be accessed through the Botanic Gardens. Going in at the entrance nearest Kelvin Walkway (rather than the Queen Margaret Drive one) and on the left hand side there’s a well trodden path amongst the trees that takes you straight there. At the the end of the platforms you’ll see the boards that need to be climbed over to get to the Botanics platform.

    Kelvinbridge station is easy enough to get to but it involves climbing through some fences and wooded areas. The bridge after Kirklee bridge (as you walk towards Maryhill Locks) has, again, a well trodden path going up towards the woods. Go up it and climb through the various fences and voila, you’re there. It’s mainly overgrown weeds but you can get onto the bridge but the tunnel at the end is now securely locked.

  16. […] Gardens Station anyway. So I did it the old fashioned way instead, using the photos I took when I explored the station as a reference and crafting the 3D model to match using Blender’s extensive modelling […]

  17. donny says:

    We explored these areas as kids early 7th. Great summers.

  18. donny says:

    Early 1970s

    • ruth says:

      So many of us went ‘tunnelling’ in the 70s I’m surprised we didn’t all meet up or pass each other! We used to go on Sunday afternoons – went east to Bridgeton and parkhead as well as Finnieston

  19. skye says:

    I was there yesterday,I found many ways in anyone know which ways the easiest route to take!?

  20. William connell says:

    Who knows how to get in to this where is the entrance to get in to this ????

  21. donny says:

    Used to play there as kids, about 1974.
    We spent a lot of time in derelict buildings. So much fun.

  22. Maddie says:

    Hi there,

    This is amazing, how did you create the 3D model? Do you have plans from the site? I’d love to look at plans of it for my university project if you could help!

    Thank you very much

  23. Diana Tanner says:

    Just fascinating for someone who was brought up in the area. I remember the Station and Silver Slipper Cafe! Thank you for the photos and information. Shame it is unused and so much now built upon the line as it would be a great commuter line and hopefully take a lot of traffic off very busy routes!

  24. Chelsea says:

    To anyone interested. I went down today and you can enter through the Kirklee tunnel, it seems that someone has prised it open! It was really cool to see it in person.

  25. JGH says:

    As above says : it’s actually very easy to access the Botanics Station platforms at the moment. Open gate in the dancing. And then just walk through the tunnel to the disused platforms. I actually continued under GWR all the way to Kelvinbridge and then back again.
    I got some great photos.
    Thank you to this blogger for all the information. I’m hooked now. Where next…..

  26. Chez Marto says:

    Thanks for this great info! As a child my brothers & I went through this tunnel in the 1960’s. In 2015 I was back home & decided to go in again. I was in my mid 50’s & nearly died scrambling over the high sheeted walls at the Kirklee Stn end. Lucky there was some assistance in the form of rope & upended wrought iron fencing which acted as a ladder. But with my bad back I nearly fell over the other side & it’s well high, I would’ve needed an ambulance! I made it in, went right to the Bot Gdns station, past & as far as I could go the back again. It was dusk & as I was passing through the station I saw a solitary fox sitting on the other platform staring at me. It was epic! Back over the high fence & out into the Gardens to discover they were locked up! I don’t know how I scaled the perimeter fence sheesh those spikes are sharp & it nearly killed me hauling myself up & over the fence out onto the street. Boy I had the time of my life doing it! I couldn’t believe that after so long there I was back in the tunnel again!

  27. seanny says:

    hey not sure if you still monitor this blog but I am studying architecture and i’ve chosen the botanic rail way station for my project.

    I was wondering if you know where i can access plans, sections etc.

    I also don’t suppose you can send me your 3d model for a base to design from, seeing as it is your work but otherwise any help would be greatly appreciated

  28. RCM says:

    As of 17th February 2018 there is an outer fence preventing access to Kirklee platform and the entrance to the tunnel has been recently boarded up with steel doors and razor wire at top. Cant get access. All looks fairly recent.

  29. JS says:

    Such a shame that all of these tunnels are still structurally sound and are unused! The subway should invest in overground trains and make use of these.

    Can I ask- I remember being down at Partick Bridge by the Kelvin Hall and seeing what looked like another portal into KG park- is it part of an abandoned line? I’d love to see what that looks like too!

    • gcat says:

      There is another disused tunnel under Kelvingrove Park. It’s the same line as the Botanics tunnels but on the other side of Kelvinbridge Station. I wrote about it here:

      Though I think the one you’re talking about may actually be the Yorkhill Tunnel, which I’ve never been able to get into.

  30. Glen. Douglas says:

    Brilliant, took me back 62 years
    I lived in the Botanic Gardens from 1947 till 1956, my Father was curator of the gardens, and he actually named the Silver Slipper Cafe, which was owned by the Cocoas family (cousins of Mario Lanza)

    I with my brother used to play in the tunnels #nd the stations

    We lived in the big house which is now a cafe

  31. Paulina says:

    Hi, i read through comments and I’ve seen few people have already asked for it but I’m really intrigued about your 3D model of that tunnel. I’ve tried to find plans for that tunnel in few places but I’ve hit a wall.

    Also is absolutely amazing you put together a record of places like that is fascinating x

  32. Jim McLarnon says:

    Very interesting indeed, I knew there was an old station but had never seen pictures before.

  33. jenny says:

    Hiya! Amazing work! i’d be interested in any plans/sections or general set of drawings of the stations and the tunnel if you have any. I’m an architecture student and considering it as a possible site for a rehabilitation project-thank you πŸ˜‰

  34. Alex says:

    Amazing read my friend. Thank you! So much detail and loved the pictures you were able to grab! Would you be able to e-mail me the plans that you have as this is a 100% must visit πŸ˜› x

    • gcat says:

      Hi πŸ™‚ I don’t actually have any plans of the station, though you can see the rough layout on old OS maps (for example this one: ). The tunnels are still shown as dotted lines on the modern 1:25000 maps. Though security is pretty tight there these days…

  35. Callum McCulloch says:

    Very interesting. I enjoyed reading your research and looking the pictures. It’s not that you put up too many, it’s actually not enough pictures. They are very good pictures.

    Have you ever considered using your research to ask the owner or Glasgow city council if the station could be renovated into a community garden centre for the residents of West end of Glasgow. I did request to speak to the owners of the Glasgow Victorian station regarding this. I would be interested in creating something like a community garden centre project for the resident’s.

  36. Ben says:

    Is still possible to access the tunnels?

  37. Craig says:

    Hey, just found this site and really impressed. Was there with a friend today, but the entrance I used previously seems to be closed. Is there any other way in, do you know? Or any other site that might keep tabs on it? Loved going through it and your site has helped me relive it.
    Thanks so much

    • gcat says:

      I think both ends are pretty well sealed up at the moment. Occasionally one of them is open for a while but they tend to get closed again fairly quickly these days.

  38. mark says:

    Milk Crate Gang website

    no pictures sadly but the text in intact.

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