Liz McIvor recounts the tales of the men who built the canals - the navigators, or navvies - focusing on their work on the Manchester Ship Canal.
This is the story of the men who built our canals - the navigators or 'navvies'. They represented an 'army' of hard physical men who were capable of enduring tough labour for long hours. Many roved the countryside looking for work and a better deal. They gained a reputation as troublesome outsiders, fond of drinking and living a life of ungodly debauchery. But who were they? Unreliable heathens and outcasts, or unsung heroes who used might and muscle to build canals and railways? We focus on the Manchester Ship Canal - the swansong for the navvies and hailed as the greatest engineering feat of the Victorian Age. The navvies worked at a time of rising trade unionism. But could they organise and campaign for a better deal?