Author Topic: Can you help answer questions on John Brown's shipyard and working conditions  (Read 147 times)

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Online Lynda Bradford

Can you help? - TQS admin has received the following from a student the studying the subject of Clydebank shipyards

If you worked at John Brown's or UCS or know where to find the answers to the following information it would be good to hear from you

"I was told to email you as I'm looking for someone who can answer a few questions on the clydebank shipyard

What were conditions like working in the shipyards?
What hours did they work?
How many worked there?
Ask him about customs and practices – particularly – did he think the strict rules about job demarcation slowed down the building process?
What big ships did he work on?
Did he feel there was a tension between the managers and the workers?
How did they treat the supervisors?
Was he involved in the strikes of upper clyde shipbuilders?
Did he know Jimmy Reid ? the strike leader.
What happened after the strike?"
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank

Online Lynda Bradford

The student has confirmed that she is looking for information for the time after the Clydebank Blitz (1941)
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank

Offline Rod

Well I can tell her that job demarcation certainly slowed down the process.
The engine room crew were hardly allowed to do any work at all. Maintenance only, no repairs.
Engineer Officers were allowed to do a bit more, but nothing like say changing out an old damaged steam valve for a new one. (Talking about small valves here)
I was working in the kitchen and the chef had asked me to install a new can opener on one of the stainless steel work tops. No problem. Drill 3  1/4" holes, 3 bolts job done right? Wrong!! Considered a new installation, had to be done by the shipyard.
Put in a work request, got it approved and waited, and waited and waited! After 4 days, a Vospers guy found me and said he was here to drill holes, Great! I showed him what I needed and he said he couldn't do it. He was a "boilermaker driller", they did not work on stainless steel. He wrote stainless on the work ticket and wandered off. 3 days later a "panel driller" showed up and drilled the holes. Took him 10 minutes!
« Last Edit: Nov 13, 2020, 03:46 PM by Rod »

Online Lynda Bradford

Thanks Rod, I have sent your response to the student, as this is a good demonstration of demarcation.

In relation to number of workers in the shipyard, I explained that there were different numbers at any point in time.  As the student was looking for information from 1940's to 1970's I found the following information that I thought would be useful.   

"I had a look at Ian Johnston's book "Ships for Nations" which is a book I would recommend you try to get from the Library for your research.  I have extracted the following information:

1940's: Page 126 - by April 1942, 5147 were employed in Clydebank Shipyard, excluding Engine Works. Of these 143 were women - 43 women were polishers the rest were in trades categories including labourers. 

1950's: page 245 - In 1954 with  a large volume of work already in production employment peaked,  in February employment at the company peaked at 7759. Of these 6876 were in workshops of which 112 were women.  In Offices 883 of which 167 were women. 

1960's:  When the QE2 was launched on 20 September 1967 the Glasgow Herald newspaper reported on the ship's launch.   Information was that 3000 men had worked on the ship and another 500 would be employed (see link and attached a screen shot of the page, which may be useful)"
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank


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