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16 October 2014
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Harland & Wolff: Rebbeck family

I worked in the Purchasing Department from 1960 to 1969.

Article written by Peter Rebbeck.

Greater Belfast
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I worked in the Purchasing Department from 1960 to 1969. The purchasing division was called the Contracts & Buying Dept and had about 50 persons with 3 sections, shipbuilding, engineering and electrical. I was in the shipbuilding end and we purchased such items as steel, anchors, lifeboats, portholes, windows, beds, furnishings etc. We also bought cars, trucks, etc for the yard. I ended in charge of my division before leaving in 1969 and starting up an estate agency in Newtownards.

The yard was very busy then with many ships being built and on order. The Unions were strong and demarcation disputes were creating problems and cost overruns. Overseas yards in Japan, Germany and Spain were able to build cheaper.

I was not there when my grandfather (Sir Frederick Rebbeck) was in charge but he had worked up through the ranks and did run the yard with a strong arm. The workers respected him.

H&W's Goliath crane

My father (Dr. Denis Rebbeck) took over the chairmanship when the Canberra was being built. I believe she was the first liner to have aluminium superstructure and it did create additional costs. H&W built a lot of ships for Scandanavia as my Father had a lot of contacts there. They also built alot for Bank Line ships. I do remember my father talking about his dealings with Aristotle Onassis when he was going to build 3 tankers at H&W. Onassis came to H&W and went to my parents home in Craigavad. My mother found him charming, my father found him a tough negotiator.!!! My father was the driving force behind the Goliath Cranes in an effort to cut construction costs and speed up construction.

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