Author Topic: Political, Social/Culltural life of Shipyard. Candid Memories and Accounts  (Read 880 times)

brendain122

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Hi. I'm doing some back ground research on the shipyard and I'm looking to collect memories/first hand accounts of shipyard workers about working in the Shipyard during 1950s and early 1960s. What I need are honest, candid and to the point sharing and replies. I would like to ask questions about the labour and trade union movement inthose years, the senstive issues people are often reluctant to talk about such as sectarianism, influence of the Orange Order, Ulster Protestant Action, alternative narratives addressing 'the informal' day to day life such as the 'card schools, visits of workers to corn market cinemas such as the Royal and the Empire during workinghours, pitch and toss gambling, the life of the 'Bishops' - evangelical Christians.  Let kick off with a proposition I'm aware off and I invite honest and forthrightbut respectful reaction to it in terms of agreeing, disageeing etc.  I 'm simply offering the opportunity to use this forum for an honest and forthright exchange of views.  here is it,
 It was the so called ‘beating heart’ of Ulster loyalism, the epicentre of loyalist working class power in Belfast. This was where the well-oiled power structure of the unionist establishment manipulated the Protestant working class ‘to do as they wished’, in return for their ‘loyalty’, a stage-managed merry go round for jobs, perks and party politics in a loyalist theme park; the Achilles heel of Ulster loyalism.
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I invite your reaction please.
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roycraw.

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Re: Political, Social/Culltural life of Shipyard. Candid Memories and Accounts
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2018, 07:30:12 AM »
Hi. I'm doing some back ground research on the shipyard and I'm looking to collect memories/first hand accounts of shipyard workers about working in the Shipyard during 1950s and early 1960s. What I need are honest, candid and to the point sharing and replies. I would like to ask questions about the labour and trade union movement inthose years, the senstive issues people are often reluctant to talk about such as sectarianism, influence of the Orange Order, Ulster Protestant Action, alternative narratives addressing 'the informal' day to day life such as the 'card schools, visits of workers to corn market cinemas such as the Royal and the Empire during workinghours, pitch and toss gambling, the life of the 'Bishops' - evangelical Christians.  Let kick off with a proposition I'm aware off and I invite honest and forthrightbut respectful reaction to it in terms of agreeing, disageeing etc.  I 'm simply offering the opportunity to use this forum for an honest and forthright exchange of views.  here is it,
 It was the so called ‘beating heart’ of Ulster loyalism, the epicentre of loyalist working class power in Belfast. This was where the well-oiled power structure of the unionist establishment manipulated the Protestant working class ‘to do as they wished’, in return for their ‘loyalty’, a stage-managed merry go round for jobs, perks and party politics in a loyalist theme park; the Achilles heel of Ulster loyalism.
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I invite your reaction please.
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its ok b122,    i've found it.      roy  c.

roycraw.

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Re: Political, Social/Culltural life of Shipyard. Candid Memories and Accounts
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 07:59:06 AM »
Hi. I'm doing some back ground research on the shipyard and I'm looking to collect memories/first hand accounts of shipyard workers about working in the Shipyard during 1950s and early 1960s. What I need are honest, candid and to the point sharing and replies. I would like to ask questions about the labour and trade union movement inthose years, the senstive issues people are often reluctant to talk about such as sectarianism, influence of the Orange Order, Ulster Protestant Action, alternative narratives addressing 'the informal' day to day life such as the 'card schools, visits of workers to corn market cinemas such as the Royal and the Empire during workinghours, pitch and toss gambling, the life of the 'Bishops' - evangelical Christians.  Let kick off with a proposition I'm aware off and I invite honest and forthrightbut respectful reaction to it in terms of agreeing, disageeing etc.  I 'm simply offering the opportunity to use this forum for an honest and forthright exchange of views.  here is it,
 It was the so called ‘beating heart’ of Ulster loyalism, the epicentre of loyalist working class power in Belfast. This was where the well-oiled power structure of the unionist establishment manipulated the Protestant working class ‘to do as they wished’, in return for their ‘loyalty’, a stage-managed merry go round for jobs, perks and party politics in a loyalist theme park; the Achilles heel of Ulster loyalism.
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I invite your reaction please.
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  hi b122, i'll cover what i can on your post,  i 'served my time'  in the yard from 1953 and left there in1960,  i served my first few years in the queens works boiler shop before going out onto the 'boats' at the fitting out wharfs,  after a while out there i did notice a change in some things, sectarianism was alive and well in a way i had not found in the boilershop.  the unions were very strong but they were definitely influenced by the various protestant movements, to what extent it is hard to say. but i know for a fact that there were those in the union who would have none of this and who fought solely for the working man,     my own uncle:  sammy cree was one of those.        on a lighter theme: gambling in the 'yard',     was there ever,   each boat on the fitting out had its own wee bookie and crown and anchor man who appeared each lunchhour,      here's how it worked:  on each boat there would be someone who would look after the crown and anchor board ,  it folded up and together with its box and dice was kept in a locked toolbox.   the same man just before lunchtime would tape up on a bulkhead the days racing papers all ready for action,   but how did these bookies etc. just get there?  simple,   they hopped on a tram in and hopped out the same way , brilliant.     each guy who minded the board etc. was of course on a few quid a week.  the bookie bit was owned by a legit. bookie.   joe mckee,     don't know about the crown and anchor men,       and yes there was a lunchtime 'toss'  with serious money involved mostly held at the deep water wharf with a couple of belfast hardmen to keep order.    politics?  yes the unionist party played us like puppets.     got more to tell you and i will get back to you on that.   cheers,   roy  c.   

brendain122

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Re: Political, Social/Culltural life of Shipyard. Candid Memories and Accounts
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2018, 05:56:05 PM »
Hi Roy. Much appreciated. That kind of memoir. information just the kind of sharing i needed. You can go so far with books but first hand accounts you can't beat. Interrresting stuff about the gambling. Look forward to the political you indidated. Cheers.

brendain122

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Hi Roy C. I'd be interested, if you have time, in a follow up to your last reply about the influence of politicians on the shipyard work force? I'd say your memories and insights would be quite informative and revealing. I still trying to get information about shipyard culture from the perspective of Protestant Unionist working class perspectives, because i think that viewpoint has to some extent been not sufficiently heard.

I hope you can spare some time and perhaps I may hear from you.

Thank you.


roycraw.

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Hi Roy C. I'd be interested, if you have time, in a follow up to your last reply about the influence of politicians on the shipyard work force? I'd say your memories and insights would be quite informative and revealing. I still trying to get information about shipyard culture from the perspective of Protestant Unionist working class perspectives, because i think that viewpoint has to some extent been not sufficiently heard.

I hope you can spare some time and perhaps I may hear from you.

Thank you.
hi there b122,    on the political side of things in the 'yard',    i can not come up with an easy answer as things were just as they always were, ( if that makes any sense) ,    but maybe i can give some sort of a picture,    the political was tied to your religion with bands of steel,   if you were protestant you voted unionist,   if you were catholic you voted labour as that was your only hope of any measure of fairness in the workplace,      the unionist party forever in power played us off together to maintain their position.          my own uncle ( a prod.)  and a strong union man joined the labour party to try to improve the lot of all working men,    our family was not impressed,      my own experience when i refused to buy a upa badge because i was told i had to ?   things turned a bit frosty,  but i stood my ground,  had i been a catholic could i have done that?    hmmm.    maybe not.         something that has stayed in my mind for all these years and if this ruffles a few feathers so be it,   its the truth,    i had gone to a toilet block on the musgrave channel at one of the fitting out berths,   plonked myself down ( as you sometimes have to)  and started to read the wise and witty sayings?   on the walls and door.       scratched into the paintwork on the door was ' catholics are getting jobs and houses,  this must stop' .     this would have been around 1956-57,  and here i am nearly 81 years old and cannot forget that,    in the name of anything what are we,  any of us?     hope this is of some help.      roy   c.

brendain122

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Hello Roy C,

Nice to hear from you. Thanks for sharing those memories and they are very helpful. It's especially so as you were there working in the shipyard and other wider family network. I feel the story needs to be told from perspectives of Protestants and Catholics to get a more considered and fair picture of how working life was there -socially, politically and culturally. It's interesting that whilst my my post has recored over 373 views, you are the only person that has replied and shared your views. I wonder why this could be? Is maybe that for those who were there sharing memoirs is considered with suspicion, distrust or even because to this day religious, political and social divisions are as 'potent' as they were in the 50s and 60s? It's a pity that I can't reach out to a greater number of views and recollections. The story of the shipyard still remains to be told but perhaps it's just that the past and the present always remain too close to each other in this city. 

Paula mc

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Hi Brendan I have sent you a private message

brendain122

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Hi. I'm doing some back ground research on working life in the shipyard. I'm looking to collect memories/first hand accounts of shipyard workers about working in the Shipyard during 1950s and early 1960s. What I need are honest and candid memoirs of a few lines or paragrpahs, whatever you feel comfortable with.  I would like to know about about the labour and trade union movement in those years, the senstive issues people are often reluctant to talk about such as sectarianism, influence of the Orange Order, Ulster Protestant Action, 'the informal' day to day life such as the 'card schools, pitch and toss gambling,  the 'Bishops' - evangelical Christians etc and views on Sam Thompson's play, Over the Bridge.
I think it's important to get a braod range of views to set the record straight from those who were there.

This is to help me with some background info for short stories or plays I hope to write.
Thank you for your help.

roycraw.

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Hi Roy C. I'd be interested, if you have time, in a follow up to your last reply about the influence of politicians on the shipyard work force? I'd say your memories and insights would be quite informative and revealing. I still trying to get information about shipyard culture from the perspective of Protestant Unionist working class perspectives, because i think that viewpoint has to some extent been not sufficiently heard.

I hope you can spare some time and perhaps I may hear from you.

Thank you.
hi b122,  just something in a lighter vein from my last post,    you mentioned some time ago about workers slipping off to the cinema etc.  when they should have been at work,   yes they did but they were cheating no one here's how the system worked:   i can't speak for other departments but the outside engine works of which i was part of were those involved in the fitting out of a ship,   the boiler room,  engine room and anything connected with that.           we were on piecework,   meaning we got paid for what we did,   every job had a price on it from landing a funnel to measuring and putting up a bracket or an engine room ladder,      sounds good?    not always,  some jobs were well paid some not so good but the main catch was and it was meant to keep prices from being down graded , by union rules you could only 'book' in up to a certain amount a week,  so if a man was on a well paying run and had reached his 'limit',      what to do ?   sit on toolbox?     vanish?        tell you more about how you could 'vanish'  with clocking out.     

brendain122

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Thank you Roy C.
Again great information and all about balancing out what has been said and handed down and accepted, without being fully aware of the how things really were, even if as you suggested the experiences of workers in some departments may may been different to that of others. I  look forward to hearing more of your account about vanishing without clocking out. Thank you Roy C

roycraw.

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Thank you Roy C.
Again great information and all about balancing out what has been said and handed down and accepted, without being fully aware of the how things really were, even if as you suggested the experiences of workers in some departments may may been different to that of others. I  look forward to hearing more of your account about vanishing without clocking out. Thank you Roy C
   hi b122,    to enlarge on the piecework system etc. : i should haveput this in my last post,  if a man had reached the limit that he could book in that week he could either keep going and put the 'surplus' work in the 'back of the book' in case of leaner times ahead, but you couldn't do too much of that,   we had rate fixers and they were held in higher regard than leading hands or foremen and rightly so,  they were more clued up on the progress of work done or still to be done ,  every aspect of the fitting out of a ship ran to a budget and these guys were going to see that it did.          managers,  foremen,  leading hands?    the rate fixers were the boys to watch with us,  i still remember ours  tommy [censored],  he would have done well with the gestapo, ach he was just doing his job and doing it well ,      the other option was:  put your tools away and vanish,  how to do?     thats for my next post.       all the best.     roy   c.

brendain122

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Thanks Roy C. I look forward to hearing more. Cheers.

brendain122

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  • Posts: 63
Hi. I'm doing some back ground research on the shipyard and I'm looking to collect memories/first hand accounts of shipyard workers about working in the Shipyard during 1950s and early 1960s. What I need are honest, candid and to the point sharing and replies. I would like to ask questions about the labour and trade union movement inthose years, the senstive issues people are often reluctant to talk about such as sectarianism, influence of the Orange Order, Ulster Protestant Action, alternative narratives addressing 'the informal' day to day life such as the 'card schools, visits of workers to corn market cinemas such as the Royal and the Empire during workinghours, pitch and toss gambling, the life of the 'Bishops' - evangelical Christians.  Let kick off with a proposition I'm aware off and I invite honest and forthrightbut respectful reaction to it in terms of agreeing, disageeing etc.  I 'm simply offering the opportunity to use this forum for an honest and forthright exchange of views.  here is it,
 It was the so called ‘beating heart’ of Ulster loyalism, the epicentre of loyalist working class power in Belfast. This was where the well-oiled power structure of the unionist establishment manipulated the Protestant working class ‘to do as they wished’, in return for their ‘loyalty’, a stage-managed merry go round for jobs, perks and party politics in a loyalist theme park; the Achilles heel of Ulster loyalism.

roycraw.

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Thanks Roy C. I look forward to hearing more. Cheers.
[/quote    hello again b122,  sorry for the time lapse in replying but my head has been all over the place and i have just been trying to keep up with it.     but here it is,  how to slip away without 'clocking off',     first off you would have to understand the timekeeping system in a workplace as big as H&W,   timeclocks for the 'masses' would have been impossible,    when you went to work each morning you called out to a timekeeper your 'board number'   it was just that a small piece of hardwood with your number stamped into it,   i still remember mine,  11465,    you picked that up in the morning and carried it through the day and used it if you needed to go to another department, ( even to a toilet) within your workshop.      ( it's true)     now to how you could be 'clocked off'  at the end of the day when you were already long gone, on finishing for the day you literally flung your board through an opening in your particular time office ,   the timekeeper just stood well back and picked up and sorted the boards afterwards,  how they actually recorded a mans time and how long it took to do that i shudder to think.      i should add that it was more or less set in stone that it was part of an apprentices duty to 'fling'  his tradesmans/ mens board when and if required.