Monday, August 31, 2009

Waverley Route Heritage Association

I visited the Waverley Route Heritage Centre Open Weekend on Sunday, 30th August 2009 with a friend.
This is at Whitrope about 4 miles north of Hermitage and 11 miles south of Hawick on the scenic B6399 road.
They've achieved a lot in a short time, a few hundred yards of track, and they have 2 carriages and a snow plough.
One of the carriages is a cafe, the other a very nice exhibition with photos of stations, newspaper cuttings, artefacts, station name boards, lamps, signs etc.
The navvies that carved out the line were extremely well paid for the middle of the 19th century, they earned £100 to £150 per year, compared with a labourer's average earnings of £25 to £30 per year; and for agricultural labourers and farm servants, more than half of that would be in the form of rent, food, and fuel.
The navvies lived in bothies (wooden huts) in the hills.
There were no shops for them to spend their money, apart from enterprising contractors who brought clothing and footwear from Hawick to sell.
A Mr MacDonald opened a superior bothy offering accommodation, food, and booze known as the Turf Hotel near Langburnshiels.
At the weekend many of the navvies went to Hawick, some, no doubt, full of good intentions to send money home to their families; most drinking their two or three pounds away. Their natural exuberance and competitiveness often erupted into brawls, though as one policemen said "At least they fight only amongst themselves." Some were carted away and spent a night or two in Jedburgh prison.
I wonder how many navvies found sweethearts among the Hawick women ?
How many stayed and married there and raised families ?
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