The Molendinar Burn

The City of Glasgow’s name comes from the Gaelic Glasgu, meaning dear green place – the dear green place in question was a beautiful wooded valley beside the Molendinar Burn where St. Mungo (also known as Kentigern) founded a church in the 6th Century.

The Molendinar Burn kept it’s importance in Glasgow’s history for a long time – the later cathedral was built approximately on the site of St. Mungo’s church, and a bridge (the Bridge of Sighs) was built over the burn to the Necropolis. The burn also marked the eastern border of the city, and later was used to power the first of the mills that sprung up in the city.

The city outgrew the burn, though, and in the 1870s it was culverted over and almost forgotten – Wishart Street now runs along it’s path next to the cathedral. It’s exposed at one small section next to the old Great Eastern Hotel, so I went for a look.

The exposed section:

Molendinar Burn (by Ben Cooper)

The burn runs under Duke Street, and takes a sharp turn to the right:

Molendinar Burn 1 (by Ben Cooper)

It starts off stone-lined:

Molendinar Burn 3 (by Ben Cooper)

Turns to oval brick:

Molendinar Burn 4 (by Ben Cooper)

Then very low concrete:

Molendinar Burn 5 (by Ben Cooper)

Then steel pipe, which takes a sharp turn then carries on straight for a while:

Molendinar Burn 7 (by Ben Cooper)

Before turning into a lovely 7′ high brick tunnel:

Molendinar Burn 11 (by Ben Cooper)

This carries on for quite a while, past a blocked-off side flue:

Molendinar Burn 12 (by Ben Cooper)

Looking up at a manhole on Wishart Street (I think) – note the slates used as a platform:

Molendinar Burn 18 (by Ben Cooper)

And a more modern access shaft – I’m not sure why there are two ladders:

Molendinar Burn 20 (by Ben Cooper)

Then, stalactite city:

Molendinar Burn 23 (by Ben Cooper)

In places, it looked like a natural cave:

Molendinar Burn 30 (by Ben Cooper)

With only a little brick showing through:

Molendinar Burn 32 (by Ben Cooper)

And old pipes slowly filling up:

Molendinar Burn 34 (by Ben Cooper)

I met some of the locals:

Molendinar Burn 35 (by Ben Cooper)

It turned back into steel pipe:

Molendinar Burn 38 (by Ben Cooper)

Then what looks like an open channel that’s been concreted over:

Molendinar Burn 41 (by Ben Cooper)

A few more stalactites:

Molendinar Burn 43 (by Ben Cooper)

And a very low chamber with two inlets – I didn’t feel like crawling any further:

Molendinar Burn 44 (by Ben Cooper)

Returning to the start, I went downstream a bit:

Molendinar Burn 47 (by Ben Cooper)

Into the next tunnel:

Molendinar Burn 48 (by Ben Cooper)

And carried on for about 10 minutes before turning back – downstream is a mission for another day.

Molendinar Burn 46 (by Ben Cooper)

I’m not sure how far I got – it certainly felt quite far, I think I got all the way along Wishart Street to Alexandra Parade. Looking at some old maps, the burn split in two about there, which would make sense with what I saw.

18 Responses

  1. Oone side of this burn, as far as I know, ran out from Cardowan colliery and alongside the railway which currently has its first stop after Stepps as Springburn. Growing up in Cardowan our local big stops were Duke St, Parkhead, Alexandra Parade, St. Mungos in Glasgow and the toon. Which may fit in with the natural route of the burn, not to mention the natural animosity wae the Craigend gangs where I believe the burn also ran. Happy days, apart from the rats maybe, although the wee dug was fair happy wi them.

  2. Thats amazing.
    I think when you live in a place you become lazy about discovering your past .
    These pics are great .
    Im defo gna take a wee trip down their myself.

  3. Really enjoyed your walk and pictures, I thought it ended up going under Turnbull street and under Glasgow Green then into the clyde?

  4. Thank you for taking and posting these amazing photos. I’ve had a fascination for this wee burn the past decade or so.

  5. Wonderful. I remember being taught about st mungo and the molendinar burn at school. Your photos would.Have made it so real. Thanks

  6. Superb – had done some research in the past and went to school next to open part of the burn in Duke St. Very clear and interesting pictures, dont think I would ever have been so brave to go so far in the tunnel, one last point – pleasantly surprised at how clean it appeared to be.

  7. Was looking up the Molendinar just for some information on a project of my own. (Wanted to know more about Spoutmouth and the ‘four cisterns of fine sweet water’ that M’Ure wrote about in the 1700s and tried to find out a bit more about the burn while I was doing it.) Came across these spectacular and evocative pictures. They are wonderful – thank-you! Love your site.

  8. I dont know if I’m correct but I understood that Tennents brewery used the water at some point from the Molendiner ? I was born in Duke street so find the subject fascinating

  9. Did some work for Scottish Water on the Molendinar Burn in about 2002. Youve probably got better information here than we had then.

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