Last Single Speed UK championship I rode a cyclocross converted Triumph Tempest on the testing off road course at Drumlanrig castle. The tempest was a 23.5" framed rebadged Raleigh road bike of early 1980's spec made of lugged hi-tensile steel.
I survived and won a prize for Shonkiest bike in the competition !
A bike of this type should be tough enough for commuting you describe and home built conversions are great fun.
Currently building up a 1950's Rudge Whitworth roadster frame as a singlespeed tough commuter. The frame was built for 28 x 1.5" wheels and thus has plenty of clearance for tyres up to 42mm wide on 700c rims. Also it comes with track ends 110 OLN spaced