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16 October 2014
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Brian's Belfast Sketchbook

When I worked in Belfast during the 60's and 70's I used to wander the City with a sketchbook during my lunch breaks.

Sketch by Brian Willis

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BRIAN'S BELFAST SKETCHBOOK

LAUNCH

Sometime during the 1970's. Pen and Ink original size 24 x 15 cm

I was lucky enough on one or two occasions to watch a ship launch at Harlands.

Ship launch at Harlands, Belfast. Original drawing by Brian Willis.

Men were stationed beneath the hull and at a given signal would hammer out the supporting baulks of wood. The supervisor appears to be leaning forward in his enthusiasm for the task.

In a sketch I found it impossible to convey the vast scale of such a hull with these tiny men toiling away beneath.
What was the signal they used to alert everyone to start hammering? I have forgotten. Was it whistles or a horn?

Your Responses

Ronnie Lewis (Electrician) - December '04
He (Brian) must have been running the block, to wander around Belfast in his lunch break. We had just enough time to jump in the car, go to the Canberra, have a bowl of stew & a pint of guinness, back in the car & back to work, all in half an hour.

Plater says:
Whistles were used in these squads. I worked with them. I also worked with the squad that set up the launchways and the ways were pre greased. We used a substance called "tallow". The keel was put down on the top dry side of the ways.

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