The Celtic roots that helped shape Durham by David Simpson- Northern Echo

2nd part on Irish Navvies in County Durham and Consett Area

This time a Northern Echio article by David Simpson- 25th April 2009

Extract from the article – full article on link above

Most Irish settlers arrived in Durham following the Irish Potato Famine of 1845.

Some came via Liverpool; others via Glasgow or the Cumberland ports. The 1840s, 50s and 60s were a period of rapid industrial development in England, and the failure of the staple Irish potato crop lured many Irish to English industrial regions, such as the North-East.

Only Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and London were more significant than our region in terms of their Irish populations.

Many Irishmen settled in the major towns of our region, finding menial jobs or living by their wits as hawkers.

Others were more fortunate, finding work in factories or shipyards.

Another common occupation was in railway construction.

Irish navigators, or navvies, on the railways were once a familiar sight.

Coal mining is said to have been a major attraction for the Irish in Durham but, in truth, Irishmen had little experience of this work in their homeland.

Early Irish settlers generally avoided pit work and were more likely to be found working in new ironworks at places such as Consett, Witton Park or Tow Law.

Such work was a more attractive proposition and, unlike coal mining, was not dominated by men who were precious of their line of work which often passed from father to son.

The HCSW project team would be delighted to hear from people with relatives you may have come across from Ireland and worked in the Steelworks or local area. Any pictures or stories would be great to see

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