Contemporary Account of SCR Construction: Lancaster Guardian - 1870, June 4th

The following contemporary account relating to the construction of the Settle - Carlisle railway appeared on page 8 (column 1) of the June 4th, 1870 edition of the Lancaster Guardian.

Navvies, like other foolish men, at times give unreasonable and wicked license to their national antipathies, and consequently bring themselves into trouble and their country into disgrace. Because an unoffending navvy from the Emerald Isle was employed on Mr. Ashwell's contract at Batty Wife Hole, Ingelton Fells, a man of the name of Frank Taylor, a ganger in a small way, not only showed signs of bad feeling towards the Irishman, but by words tried to excite the men at the works to bring them up to his own pitch of hatred. A few days ago Taylor, accompanied by about forty men, made their way to John O'Neil's hut, near Winterscales, when this would-be leader, in a disgraceful row, uttered to the dismay and terror of the victim of their malice, the following ominous words, “I give you notice that if you are not out of this hut at seven o’clock tomorrow night, I shall either pull the hut down or burn it over the top of you.” After he had uttered this threat, he called upon his companions to signify their approval by a show of hands, when every hand was held up in favour of the forcible removal of John O’Neil or the burning down of his hut. Mr. Ashwell – to his credit and that of the English name – took the part of the persecuted Irishman, and accompanied him to Ingleton to report the state of things at the new railway works to the magistrates, who at the time were sitting at the West Riding Court House, and ask for a warrant to apprehend Taylor and bind him over to keep the peace towards John O’Neil. Mr. Ashwell was so anxious to crush this kind of work in the bud that he, after the warrant had been granted, would have telegraphed to Settle for additional police force, but it was not considered necessary. His remark was that as long as a man in his employment behaved orderly he would have him protected. With a warrant for immediate apprehension, Superintendent Exton, P.C. Wildman and P.C. Walker, accompanied by Mr. Ashwell and John O’Neil went to the works, when they found that Taylor and some of his right hand men had absconded. After lingering about the works till about seven o’clock, they directed their steps towards the doomed hut, but there found all so quiet and orderly that they were relieved from all fear of any act of incendiarism. The prompt measures taken by Mr. Ashwell and the disappearance of Frank Taylor and two or three of his head men, had calmed down the turbulent spirits of the other men.


The text quoted above was manually transcribed from a 35mm microfilm copy of the newspaper by Mark R. Harvey during a visit to Lancaster Library on July 10th, 2007.

Section menu for contemporary accounts and memories