- Contributed by
- BBC Scotland
- People in story:
- Neil Forsyth and William Kane. Interviewed by P7 pupils of Slaemuir Primary School, Port Glasgow as part of the national War Detectives project
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 31 January 2006
This story was submitted to the People's War site by Catherine Garvie, Learning Project Manager at BBC Scotland on behalf of the Greenock War Detectives project and has been added with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.
At Kincaids, where we worked, you’d spend 6 months in trainee school before becoming an apprentice and the apprenticeship lasted 5 years. Everybody you knew worked in the shipyards; they were a huge employer in the area. When you left school you could go straight into work in the yards, no problem. It was very different to how things are now. There were plenty of jobs around and you could get a job almost anywhere.
The shipyards were enormous, with thousands of people working there. They stretched down the length of Greenock and Port Glasgow and we had Scotts, Cartsdyke, Hamiltons, Kingston, Duncans, Lamonts, Roberts and Fergusons. Now we just have Fergusons in Port Glasgow.
The yards were always busy and at any one time each yard probably had 3 boats being worked on at various stages of completion. There would be one boat that was just a base, one half built and one ready to be launched. The River Clyde was a sight to see in those days with the yards and all the boats coming and going.
Shipbuilding hasn’t changed that much over the years since the war. A lot of the processes remain the same and probably the biggest difference would be that quality has improved.
As you can imagine, many parts of the boats were huge and the easiest way to transport them around the yards was by train. In those days all the railway lines had spurs that came off and ran into all of the yards. We had railway lines at Baker Street where there was a big engineering works. The engine for the boat would be built there, loaded onto a train and brought down to the yards. We needed the trains for transport as the engines were huge, with some the size of tenement buildings.
The normal working day would begin at 7.30am and finish at 5.30pm with a dinner break in the middle. When you went to the canteen you had to wear a badge to identify yourself and hand over coupons for your meal because of the rationing. if you stayed on for overtime in the evening you would start back again at 6pm and work until 9.30pm. It wasn’t unusual to work a 12hour day. We didn’t normally work Saturday but working on Sunday was quite common.
The River Clyde was a sight to see in those days, really busy with boats coming and going.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.