The tunnel that changed the Law!

In The Woodhead Route ( Dawson explains that during the construction of the first tunnels at Woodhead (there are three in total the original two being constructed between 1837-1845 and the third during electrification in the early 1950's) the working conditions of those tasked with tunneling them was so bad it caused parliament to begin looking into working conditions of railway labourers.

"The living and working conditions for the navies were appalling; work on the tunnel went on for twenty-four hours, seven days a week, with men working in twelve-hour shifts;

Hundreds of men... whose huts form a scattered encampment extending three and four miles in length over the bleak, hilly moor... The huts are a curiosity. They are mostly of stone without mortar, the roof of thatch or flag, erected by the men for their own temporary use... many of the huts were filthy dens...

As many as fifteen men lived in crammed together in each of these huts. They were poorly paid and had to pay extortionate prices for food and drink in the 'Tommy Shops'... Some twenty-six men died during construction of the tunnel...

The Woodhead controversy resulted in a Parliamentary Select Committee on Railway Labourers."

This committee still exists today and enforces how railway labourers are looked after and how their safety is managed. This could be an interesting point to draw on during this series and apply a greater national context to the project.


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Results from the NRM

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