Life for Harland & Wolff shipyard workers


K

Keith Farrell

Guest
Hi,

I have run across a bit of a dead end and I am looking for a bit of help. My name is Keith Farrell, I work for Granada TV in the UK. We are currently making a docu-drama “Building the Titanic”￾ which aims to tell the story the Titanic's construction and those who built her. We are looking for the stories of real Harland & Wolff workers who may have worked on the design or construction of the Titanic. Of course no one who worked on the construction of the ship is alive today, so I would like to speak to the family of ex-Harland & Wolff staff who worked on the Titanic while she was at the shipyard.

Do you know of anyone who had family member that worked on building of the Titanic or did your ancestors help build the ship? If so have you investigated their life story?

I would appreciate anyone who can help me to collect stories and recollections from those who built the ship and enable me to build the story of the men who built the ship.

If you can help contact me at [email protected].

Cheers

Keith
 

TimTurner

Member
Dec 11, 2012
448
54
93
I'm not sure what this forum's policy on necro-posting is, but considering that they were making the docu-drama in 2003, (10 years ago and a day ahead), I suspect that they probably don't need this information any more.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,241
241
333
We don't have any "policy" about that, Tim; we leave it up to the membership by its action or (much more commonly) inaction to pass judgment on the merits of such messages.
 

Shel Cooper

Member
Nov 8, 2013
39
0
26
AZ/LA
Did not know. There's lots of dead threads here. If you have an issue with "necro-posting", then close them off. We're here to share info, not condemn people for not knowing something. Chill out.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,241
241
333
No one's "condemning" anyone here, Shel. Tim asked a question and I answered it, that's all. You're "chill out" command is inappropriate; please refrain from posting that type of comment.

As a general policy, threads here are never closed or archived; there are open threads which date back to the creation of the Board in 1999. Members are presumed to know how old the message(s) they're responding to are.
 

Shel Cooper

Member
Nov 8, 2013
39
0
26
AZ/LA
Understood. Apologies. Since many threads are left open, and there are are lots of new members coming on board, comments may be added because there may be new info or someone wants to get answers to a question. I don't see anything wrong with asking questions or pursuing information.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,026
259
353
Actually, it's not a bad topic. I have details of the terms of employment somewhere, but I'll have to dig. They were not as bad as Shel seems to think. There were various breaks and special overtime rates, much like today. As I recall, they worked a 48 hour week, spread over 5½ days.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,026
259
353
It seems I neglected to copy a key document when I had it. I did discover a few facts that show the workers were not as badly treated as some think. Overtime was paid much like today. The first two hours were at time and a quarter, any further was at time and a half. They didn't normally work on Sunday, but if they did, it was at double time.

One strict rule was that if a worker left the job for no proper reason he lost the entire day's pay, even if he'd been at work most of the day.
 

indybelle

Member
Dec 5, 2019
8
0
1
United States
I am new to this forum and am interested in the workers at H&W in the early 1900s - what were their work days like, normal terms of employment - anything to flesh out what their lives were like in and out of the shipyard. Any help or references I can find would be awesomely helpful.
 
Nov 14, 2005
1,258
432
218
A few links that might get you started. There's a lot of info out there on this. The first link starts of stating the "brutal working conditions". Take that with a grain of salt. Yes by todays standards they were rough but back then you have to remember those were sought after jobs. Men were lined up to take them. Anyway good luck on your research.


 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
824
119
88
If you are new to H&W. Three groups stand out for me.
Mr Edward Harland who kicked started of H&W and what amazing man he was to. With finical help of from Mr Gustav Schwabe who saw a future in Mr Harland where banks could not see it. Followed by Mr Gustav Wolff a nephew to Schwabe. Without these three men there would never been a H&W. Personally think was quite out standing remarkable achievement to start up a new company, facing fierce and stiff competitions from many other well establish shipyards In Scotland and England.
In more modern times I turn to Tom McCluskie MBE the 5th generation of H&W. Who has published books on H&W.
The third is Ulster Fork and Transport Museum they have huge amount of information on H&W and the other shipyards in Belfast to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Nov 14, 2005
1,258
432
218
You are right the museum. I've looked at their website a few times. I kick myself for not going to see it when I was over there. Don't know how I missed it but I did. Oh well next time.
 

indybelle

Member
Dec 5, 2019
8
0
1
United States
Thank you for your quick and helpful responses. I had seen the video and do understand the problem of presentism in evaluating working conditions - so again thank you for the reminder. I am working on this for an enrichment talk I will present on a cruise ship next summer and really want to focus on the men - and women (who I understand made most of the linens for the Titanic so further information on them would be enormously helpful) who built her rather than the her sinking. My research options other than the web are pretty limited where I live so the links and suggestions you give here will help me to make this talk relevant and accurate.
 
Nov 14, 2005
1,258
432
218
The linen buisness was a very big part of Irelands economy back in those days. And was a factor in supplying Titanic in that regard. The company that supplied Titanic her linens is still going today.
 

Harland Duzen

Member
Jan 14, 2017
1,576
630
188
I would recommend the book "Titanic: Belfast's Own" by Stephen Cameron, it goes into great detail on Harland & Wolff and it's workers including showing workers hours, construction accident and wage lists to name a few things.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,026
259
353
The documentary mentioned above is a pretty poor one. It's full of errors and silly exaggerations of the wonders of Titanic. It manages to tell the tale without mentioning Bruce Ismay. They can't even spell Stephen Cameron's name. It would have been better if Cameron had made it.

For facts about the workers, see my earlier postings. I'll add a few things. The men had Workmen's Compensation in case of accidents, which were common. Records show that eight men died building Olympic and Titanic but it's not clear who died on which ship. Most deaths were caused by falls from the scaffolding. Things were not as strict as they may seem. The yard was so big that foremen couldn't be everywhere. Old tales tell of workers taking unauthorised breaks, with somebody posted to watch for the foreman. Workers used to make "homers", which were gadgets for home use. Pieceworkers snuck into the yard on Sunday to set up for a fast start on Monday.

There was some friction between the mostly Protestant workers and the Catholic minority, though this was often caused by outsiders. I wish I could find an account I read years ago. It told of an episode in which Protestant men gathered to protect their Catholic workmates against outside trouble-makers. (Anybody help?)

In their spare time, the men had hobbies, such as pigeon racing. They played old pub games, many of which are forgotten. Compared with laborers in some of the worst British slums, the men of H & W did pretty well.
 

Similar threads