Rotherhithe Navvies

The Rotherhithe Navvies – The untold story of one Thames Tunnel miner



For St Patrick’s Day 2021, we commissioned a new film celebrating the contribution of the Irish community to the creation of the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel built through soft ground underwater anywhere in the world.

Working with the local Irish community, and Spectrum Drama, the piece will include music and performance based on the experiences of the men who built the tunnel. Many workers from Ireland moved to London during the 19th-century to find work. Some, like Seamus Fitzpatrick, moved to Rotherhithe and worked on the tunnel. Workers who built the tunnel endured gruelling conditions. They worked up to 8-hour shifts, and when they were not working, sometimes they slept in the dark, damp, unfinished tunnel. Floods and explosions from gas lamps were a constant threat.


If you’d like Seamus to show your class around the Brunel Museum, book one of our actor-led school sessions. 


Part 1: A Place of Contrasts

Part 2: Letters with Mary

Part 3: Digging the Tunnel

1 minute trailer:


We are delighted to be collaborating with the museum to tell the tales of the generations of Irish who many would argue built much of London” Suzanne Rayner, Spectrum Drama