Leeds & West Yorkshire

Otley remembers railway navvies at monument to their work

Navvies memorial Image copyright Endure Commucations
Image caption The Grade II listed monument can be found in an Otley churchyard

A national monument to the navvies who built the the United Kingdom's railways has been rededicated.

About 200 people attended a ceremony at the Grade II-listed monument in Otley, West Yorkshire, on Saturday.

Built in the shape of the crenellated north portal of the Bramhope Tunnel, it remembers the navigators, or navvies, who built the railways.

About 2,300 navvies worked on the tunnel and 23 are known to have died as it was built between 1845 and 1849.

The monument in the graveyard of All Saints Parish Church is the only national memorial to their work, Otley Town Council said.

The 2.1-mile (3.4km) Bramhope tunnel is still used between Horsforth and the Arthington viaduct.

Image copyright Endure Communications
Image caption The navvies' working life was extremely tough
Image copyright Endure Communications
Image caption The Gothic-style north portal of the tunnel is captured in the memorial

The council has also commissioned a book and film to tell the navvies' stories building the railways.

Proceeds from the book, What Lies Beneath, will go to the memorial's upkeep.

The 30-minute documentary was screened in the town on Friday and Saturday.

Councillor Ray Georgeson said: "We are extremely proud to have the country's only memorial to the brave navvies without whom the country's network of rail lines would not have been built."

The navvies often worked in horrendous conditions and lived in makeshift accommodation nearby.

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