Sunday, 11 June 2017

Navvies seducing our women


Derby Telegraph has an interesting piece on the history of the Friar Gate railway bridge and local disruption caused when the railway came to Derby 140 years ago.

Imagine the outcry today if anyone suggested the demolition of Friar Gate railway bridge. It would be at least as vociferous as that which erupted when the bridge was built 140 years earlier.

Not only were our Victorian forebears horrified at the prospect of one of Derby's most historic thoroughfares being defaced, they were also so terrified by the imminent arrival of hundreds of what were regarded as uncivilised, uneducated navvies that plans were laid for missionaries to visit the itinerant population.

As ever, vested interests were decisive and the local council easily brought on board.

The railway, which needed the approval of the town council to proceed, had conveniently commissioned a local man, George Thompson, to survey the line. Thompson ran his own practice, but also served as borough surveyor. The GNR also acted wisely in its choice of solicitor – Samuel Leech, Liberal town councillor and Mayor of Derby.

The Mercury also pointed out that the support of the rest of the council – half of whom had industrial businesses that were nearer the proposed GNR route than the existing Midland line, and many of whom owned the land on which the railway would be built – was hardly surprising.

It was, perhaps, little wonder, too, that the Chamber of Commerce, which shared many members with the town council, also put forward its enthusiastic support.

While the middle classes were concerned about a huge influx of navvies, poorer people had more pressing problems - the demolition of their homes.

In total around 265 houses were destroyed, making homeless around 1,500 people. Most of these were poor labourers and the like, almost all of whom had rented low-cost housing, of which there had already been a shortage.

The GNR was under no obligation to replace the lost homes, and it was difficult to persuade property speculators to build homes that could earn only a tiny sum in rent.

Some compensation was offered to the displaced, but this was a matter of shillings and was of little help.


Sackerson said...

Poo. So now let's hear it for historic Labour.

Michael said...

When I resigned from my old job at Charcon in Hulland Ward in 1980, this was the last time I ever saw Derby station.

While it was a crunch, my old boss and I went for a final pint in a pub nearby, and I trained home with mixed feelings...

It was a frightening time for me, as the new firm I was joining didn't have the friendly attitude of everyone I met in Derby, and also Ashbourne, where I spent a month's training...

Funny how these memories flood back - Charcon even wanted me to take another driving test in Derby to prove that I could do the job properly! They were a good employer though, and the motorways of the UK stand the better for their products!

Friargate is famous, and such views would be irreplaceable.

Nice thoughtful post Mr H. It brings hope where we're all in a bit of a mess at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Things don't change. Made me think of the Heathrow situation. Some 3500 houses to be demolished, the compo set at 1.25 times market value. But where are say 3000 replacement homes to be found within long spitting range of a Heathrow workplace and at what price? The 1.25 times uplift does not begin to cover it. The Frogs have a better system, experts decide the project, a Minister confirms the project and land is appropriated at 2 times market value. No arguments, no endless and expensive enquiries or endless and expensive reports. Overall rather cheaper and more effective. But of course the advantages to one's best mates are rather fewer, so we go on.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - who would recognise it now?

Scrobs - I'm pleased it stirred up a few good memories - we often drive through Hulland Ward on the way to Ashbourne and beyond.

Roger - unfortunately we are addicted to the endless and expensive enquiries and reports. They give an impression of fair play even though the main attraction is to milk everything that can be milked.