The Great Central was the last main line to be built in Britain and was engineered to a very high standard. However, it is easy to overlook that the engineers and designers had very little to do with the physical work that went in to construct it.
Sue, to whom regular visitors to these musings will already have been introduced, is my wife. Some weeks ago she was wandering around some of the dusty corners of the interwebs and came across the existence of a building that had a direct connection with these navvies and was standing no more than a mile or so from where we now live until the 1980s.
This was the Bulwell Navvy Hut, more properly known as the Bulwell Navvy Mission. There is a picture of its interior at
Next door to the mission church stood a small white cottage.
I believe that this picture dates from the turn of the last century and was used as navvy lodgings. The sign on the wall says”
‘The Navvy Mission Good Samaritan Home. One Night’s Free Lodgings – Given Only To Navvies In Tramp
It is surprising that there were still navvies living a nomadic existence within the lifetime of my own grandfather and that there must have been enough work to keep them employed. It really brings home the hard life that these pioneers must have had, away from work as well as on the job.
I am featuring the Bulwell mission and navvy lodging because they were close to where I now live, but during the construction of the railways, there must have been many such buildings around the country – many of them, I’m sure, offering far worse quality accommodation.
There is another railway connection very close to where I live that will have to be the topic of another post here sometime soon.