Navvies at Cropston

At the time the reservoir was built Cropston's permanent population was around 100.   This was dwarfed by the number of building workers required for the reservoir, who lived in temporary accommodation near Hallgates.

An additional constable was appointed at the water company’s expense to keep order. His wages were 20 shillings a week plus clothing.

However, there were inevitable problems of disorder:  in July 1870 there was an affray between the Cropston navvies and the quarrymen at Mountsorrel.  Frederick Thornton appeared before the Police Court at Loughborough charged with inflicting serious head injury with an ale glass.

In a letter to the editor of the Leicester Chronicle and Mercury the Registrar for the district claimed that the questionable morals of the navvies were partly responsible for an increase in the local death rate:

"The Rothley sub-district includes Cropston and the New Bradgate Reservoir; in the immediate neighbourhood of which the 500 or 600 workmen employed upon it have had to be lodged. The habits of this migratory class, and their morals together, quite satisfactorily account for another percentage of increase in the death-rate in this district."

The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury   March 11th 1871

 

The Shant

The commercial potential of the temporary population was not lost on entrepreneurs: Billy Booten set up a beer tent known as "The Shant" (short for shanty).