Skip to Main Content
Skip to Main Navigation
Skip to Footer
Sign in / Register
TV On Demand
Film on TV
Film On Demand
Radio On Demand
Canals - The Making of a Nation
E4 of 6
Series 1 - Episode 4
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google Plus
Share on WhatsApp
Email to a friend
Historian Liz McIvor pays tribute to the workers in the latest instalment of a series that’s won an enraptured audience of nearly one million.
Invariably workers means “navvies”, now a casually used word and a catch-all description for bull-necked, dumb machismo. But McIvor points out that navvies very much had their own identity and were almost dandyish in their colourful dress, sporting neckerchiefs and felt hats.
These were mountainous, weatherbeaten, muscular men capable of shifting huge amounts of “muck”, a generic title for the dirt and rocks hewn in the making of a canal. And navvies needed plenty of fuel – 8,000 calories a day, mostly of dense bread, washed down with six to eight pints of beer.
Liz McIvor examines the Manchester Ship Canal, hailed as the greatest engineering feat of the Victorian age. Widely regarded as troublesome outsiders who led a drunken life of ungodly debauchery, the navvies who built it toiled in a time of rising trade unionism, prompting Liz to consider how well they managed to organise themselves in campaigning for the best possible deal.
Cast & Crew
Full Episode Guide
Freeview film of the day: From Dusk till Dawn
BBC2 to broadcast new Frankie Boyle satirical show right after General Election polls close
“The clothes stay on” in Poldark series 3 says Aidan Turner
Poldark series 3 episode 1 first-look preview: A Black Moon hovers over the Aidan Turner drama