Productions Perfectly Frank
On May 4th 2009 FRANC Friends of the Avon New Cut
celebrated the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Cut
with a Fun Day next to Brunel’s ss Great Britain
Inspired by the 1809 opening ceremony and party enjoyed by the Irish builders and Bristol citizens, the Friends of the Avon New Cut have organised a celebration.
The Cut was dug by Irish and other travelling labourers or “navvies”. They mainly used picks, shovels and wheelbarrows, but also gunpowder to blast a way through the rock. Mechanical excavators and lorries were not available in those days! The work was slow but was finally completed in 1809.
Show of Strength presented the man that dug the cut.
PERFECTLY FRANK The Irish Navvy who told his own story several times during the afternoon,
Frank performed 4 5 minute pieces at half hour intervals throughout the afternoon.
Written by Sheila Hannon; Frank dispelled some myths about navvies, told tales of old Bristol, informed on the technical and the celebrations at the Cut’s completion.
Bristol’s port was originally sited in the centre of the city on the River Avon. It was the second-busiest port in the country during the early 18th century, but the tidal nature of the river increasingly caused problems for ships. Traders began to use other ports instead, and a solution was needed if Bristol was to maintain its wealth.
William Jessop, a civil engineer, developed a plan to divert the River Avon away from the docks area through a new artificial channel – or cut – leaving the docks as a “floating harbour”. Work started in May 1804.