How many men were actually employed building the Titanic


Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,043
107
333
UK
Likewise the French were surprised to be served at dinner parties by waiters clad in evening dress rather than the archaic c17th livery favoured on their side of the Channel (and at the very highest levels of society even here). Those members of the serving classes who were allowed to speak at all were expected to talk like their betters too. I've heard voice recordings of Titanic stewards whose accents and diction could put the 'upstairs' cast of Downton Abbey to shame! Which explains those embarrassing situations, not uncommon when traveling, where a lady might discover that a 'gentleman' in whom she had taken an interest was in fact a valet. Equal under the law, maybe, but society had its own rules!
.
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
14
233
Hi all,

Yes, likewise all the photos i've seen till now of action in and around the shipyard indicate ordinary civilian clothes being the norm for workers, nothing resembling a high visibility vest or any form of protective gear. Mind you I suppose a lot of the modern day equipment for which high vis clothing was designed, such as forklifts, did not exist a hundred years ago, along with much plenty of other machinery.....

These days it's a requirement before even stepping onto a factory floor to be wearing suitable equipment.

I agree that it's fortunate there were not more deaths.....I seem to vaguely recall a story about one particular shipyard worker who earnt himself a nickname because he'd once been collected on the head with some heavy tool or instrument as he wandered below, and showed no signs of having been in the least affected and continued on regardless. Made of tough stuff in those days!!

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
>>Made of tough stuff in those days!! <<

That or just plain lucky enough to be hit with only a glancing blow...or thick in the skull enough to be qualified to stand for public office!
wink.gif
 
Dec 29, 2006
735
14
123
Witney
>> I agree that it's fortunate there were not more deaths.....I seem to vaguely recall a story about one particular shipyard worker who earnt himself a nickname because he'd once been collected on the head with some heavy tool or instrument as he wandered below, and showed no signs of having been in the least affected and continued on regardless. Made of tough stuff in those days!! <<

Perhaps the falling object simply bounced-off his bowler hat?
 

Adam Went

Member
Apr 28, 2003
1,194
14
233
Well that story was of course specific to a shipyard but i've heard many, many stories of Victorian/Edwardian individuals being hit, accidentally or deliberately, on the head with objects that one would think should cause considerable long-term damage, if not death, and have instead shown no apparent side-effects.

Henry Mayhew detailed a few of these in his studies from the mid-1800's, not least one "Cast-Iron Poll" who was belted round the head with a cast iron pot and showed no apparent signs of it - hence earning the nickname.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Nov 14, 2005
2,311
1,206
308
what were the hours of the men and young boys that worked in the yard as they built Olympic and Titanic, and during their fitting out?
P.S...The author describes the "horrible" working conditions. By today's standards yes but in those times not out of the ordinary. People were clamoring for those jobs. Hard times.
I've read from other sources that Saturday had reduced hours for some if not all the workers. Cheers.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
P.S...The author describes the "horrible" working conditions. By today's standards yes but in those times not out of the ordinary. People were clamoring for those jobs. Hard times.
I've read from other sources that Saturday had reduced hours for some if not all the workers. Cheers.
Although it was forty years later and not their Belfast yard, my Grandad did his engineers apprenticeship at H&W's Glasgow yard.

He said it was beyond doubt the most disgusting workplace he ever set eyes upon.

Oil, diesel and grease smeared thickly on almost everything. Dead seagulls and rats all over the place. The unwanted remains of someone's meal. The occasional blood (with optional puss) stained discarded bandage. Thousands of gobs of chewed tobacco that had been spat out. When they needed a call of nature a lot of workers didn't bother to trudge down to the lavatories, they went were they were - hence the half-folded up newspapers that littered the place but no-one wanted to pick up !
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Nov 14, 2005
2,311
1,206
308
Although it was forty years later and not their Belfast yard, my Grandad did his engineers apprenticeship at H&W's Glasgow yard.

He said it was beyond doubt the most disgusting workplace he ever set eyes upon.

Oil, diesel and grease smeared thickly on almost everything. Dead seagulls and rats all over the place. The unwanted remains of someone's meal. The occasional blood (with optional puss) stained discarded bandage. Thousands of gobs of chewed tobacco that had been spat out. When they needed a call of nature a lot of workers didn't bother to trudge down to the lavatories, they went were they were - hence the half-folded up newspapers that littered the place but no-one wanted to pick up !
I could go look it up but I'll just ask you. I'm guessing with the troubles that H&W has had over the years that Glasgow yard is gone? It's been 8 or 9 years since I was there last but don't remember anything like that. But I can believe what your Grandad said from other places I saw in the 70's. As for Glasgow I liked the place. I would go back. Good fish & chips among other things and enjoyed going thru the Glenlee and museum there.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
I could go look it up but I'll just ask you. I'm guessing with the troubles that H&W has had over the years that Glasgow yard is gone? It's been 8 or 9 years since I was there last but don't remember anything like that. But I can believe what your Grandad said from other places I saw in the 70's. As for Glasgow I liked the place. I would go back. Good fish & chips among other things and enjoyed going thru the Glenlee and museum there.
Aye, H&W Glasgow is long gone. Here is a photo of it in it's heyday

1619597674051.png


They bought a bankrupt local company in (of all years) 1912 and spent the next three years expanding and modernising the place. They also subsequently bought out two adjacent yards and incorporated them as well

H&W also brought over a lot of men and their families from Belfast to work in the yards. Unfortunately many of them brought over their anti-Catholic beliefs with them and made the sectarian problem in our city even worse.

H&W Glasgow shut in 1963. There are houses and flats standing today where it once stood.

Please return to Glasgow one day Steve, you are very welcome :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Nov 14, 2005
2,311
1,206
308
Aye, H&W Glasgow is long gone. Here is a photo of it in it's heyday

View attachment 76441

They bought a bankrupt local company in (of all years) 1912 and spent the next three years expanding and modernising the place. They also subsequently bought out two adjacent yards and incorporated them as well

H&W also brought over a lot of men and their families from Belfast to work in the yards. Unfortunately many of them brought over their anti-Catholic beliefs with them and made the sectarian problem in our city even worse.

H&W Glasgow shut in 1963. There are houses and flats standing today where it once stood.

Please return to Glasgow one day Steve, you are very welcome :)
Thanks for the reply and invite. I've always said that I would be perfectly happy to go back to Scotland. Besides the other things Glasgow was a good jumping off point to go to other places. Your train system makes it easy. Hopefully those sectarian problems went away also. Cheers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
Thanks for the reply and invite. I've always said that I would be perfectly happy to go back to Scotland. Besides the other things Glasgow was a good jumping off point to go to other places. Your train system makes it easy. Hopefully those sectarian problems went away also. Cheers.
Haste ye back Steve ! We don't usually get people saying nice things about the railways here. :D

No, the sectarian problem has not gone away.

It's not as bad as it was when my grandparents were kids but there are still a depressing number of people who hold anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant views. It does tend to be older people rather than younger ones though. Mixed marriage is the best cure for all that rubbish.

Actually, that brings me to another thing Grandad remembered about H&W Glasgow which would also have been true when they built the Titanic in Belfast. There was a lot of anti-Catholic graffiti chalked on the gantries and sheds such as "No Pope of Rome", "Keep Ulster Protestant" and all that sort of thing. Horrible bigoted stuff written by morons.
 
Nov 14, 2005
2,311
1,206
308
Haste ye back Steve ! We don't usually get people saying nice things about the railways here. :D

No, the sectarian problem has not gone away.

It's not as bad as it was when my grandparents were kids but there are still a depressing number of people who hold anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant views. It does tend to be older people rather than younger ones though. Mixed marriage is the best cure for all that rubbish.

Actually, that brings me to another thing Grandad remembered about H&W Glasgow which would also have been true when they built the Titanic in Belfast. There was a lot of anti-Catholic graffiti chalked on the gantries and sheds such as "No Pope of Rome", "Keep Ulster Protestant" and all that sort of thing. Horrible bigoted stuff written by morons.
I for one have always been impressed with the train/mass transit systems they have in Europe. Probably because we don't have trains where I live. As in passenger trains like they have over there. That will probably never change because Americans love their cars too much. Which I'm guilty of myself. As for the religious troubles I've never experienced that myself. Only read about them. But back to Titanic and shipyards. Did they build ships there or was it mostly a maintenance facility?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Cam Houseman

Member
Jul 14, 2020
2,214
532
188
16
Maryland, USA
Oil, diesel and grease smeared thickly on almost everything. Dead seagulls and rats all over the place. The unwanted remains of someone's meal. The occasional blood (with optional puss) stained discarded bandage. Thousands of gobs of chewed tobacco that had been spat out. When they needed a call of nature a lot of workers didn't bother to trudge down to the lavatories, they went were they were - hence the half-folded up newspapers that littered the place but no-one wanted to pick up !
That's got to be the most disgusting thing ever described, lol

I hope your grandpa is doing well these days! and thanks Seumas :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
That's got to be the most disgusting thing ever described, lol

I hope your grandpa is doing well these days! and thanks Seumas :)
Aye, he's fine thank you for asking Cam.

He did say that the men he learned the trade from at H&W Glasgow were excellent teachers and first rate engineers

Another view of H&W Glasgow in it's heyday.

1619629177006.png
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Cam Houseman

Member
Jul 14, 2020
2,214
532
188
16
Maryland, USA
Aye, he's fine thank you for asking Cam.

He did say that the men he learned the trade from at H&W Glasgow were excellent teachers and first rate engineers

Another view of H&W Glasgow in it's heyday.

View attachment 76457
its no problem :) I'm glad to hear he's well!

And I'm LOVING your pictures!

Speaking of Belfast, I'm trying to track down the family of the Guarantee Gang after the disaster hit Belfast, starting with Francis "Frank" Parkes' family.

His brother Robert George Parkes seems to marry a woman in 1911
1619630266147.png


I also hope the shipyards weren't like that during the time of Thomas Andrews
 
Last edited:
Nov 14, 2005
2,311
1,206
308
Aye, he's fine thank you for asking Cam.

He did say that the men he learned the trade from at H&W Glasgow were excellent teachers and first rate engineers

Another view of H&W Glasgow in it's heyday.

View attachment 76457
I don't know when those pictures were taken but it looks like a pretty well maintained facility to me. I've seen ports/places in other parts of the world that looked a lot worse. Thanks for the pics!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Similar threads

Similar threads