Shipyard workers

Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Michael, unless you are an accountant, <<

I'm not. I think if I ever need a copy for any sort of research purposes, I'd be better served by going through Interlibrary loan. Since my interest lies more along the lines of forensics issues, it doesn't sound like something I'd have a lot of use for.
 

david wilson

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Feb 17, 2004
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Hello Claire,I have a neice called Claire & my name is also Wilson.I also worked with a shipwright in H&W called William Flaherty,(liam is irish for william).I don't know much about Liam,but I can tell you a bit about the O'Flahertys.Above the main gate of the walled city of galway,on the west coast of ireland,is the inscription,"GOD PROTECT US FROM THE WRATH OF THE O'FLAHERTYS".I hope I haven't spoiled your day!!!
regards.
seven degrees west.
dw.
 
May 3, 2006
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TO DAVE GITTINS -Firstly I would like to thank you for info re - 'Shipbuilders to the World' I did borrow from a library but have since purchased a copy.I have worked for several years on my family history on Charles Payne and the photographs are of real interest to me and the family. Your CD Rom 'Document & Warning' features a recommendation by Charles Payne. Can you tell me which year this was as I am still trying to discover what happened to him in retirement and when he died.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Janice, the recommendation is from Charles Payne's grandson, of the same name.

I don't think I have anything on the date the original Charles Payne died, but I'll have a look round.
 
May 3, 2006
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Thanks Dave much appreciated. Anything further you can offer will help. I know he was also seconded to National Shipyards during WW1 and awarded the CBE. Do you have any knowledge of this period at all. I have tried to find a list of CBE awards from this period but no luck so far and cant find anything on the National Shipyards which I believe were in Chepstow.
 
C

Chris Klausen

Guest
I went to a hockey game last night with my 89 year old neighbor who grew up in Belfast. I mentioned that I knew that's where the Titanic was built and he casually mentioned that two of his uncles were carpenters that worked on her. He said one who's last name was Ferguson worked mostly on the Grand Staircase!
 
Jan 27, 2014
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Hi this must be a well asked question. Is there any lists or archive of workers on the Titanic, 10 years ago i bought 2 square planes off an old guy in Plymouth he said they were his Fathers and he had once worked building the Titanic.The problem is the planes have 2 different names on them, one is C Healey, the other R Gulley. Doesnt matter if he did not work on the Titanic as they are amazing planes in there own right just thought i would try research his claims, any help greatly appreciated yours truly Mr Stephen Smith.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
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The short answer, I'm afraid, is no. There are books like Belfast's Own which cover the construction of the ship and the trades involved in some detail and include occasional mention of anecdotes about individual workers, but the great majority remain anonymous except within the memories of their families.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Unfortunately a lot of the people who worked on the Titanic were labour-by-demand people. That is to say that they would line up outside Harland & Wolff looking for a day's work and wages and so many would be selected based on what was required for the day and the rest would be turned away. It was quite informal and very different to how it would be done in most places in 2014.

So as Bob says, stories of ancestors who worked on the Titanic often tend to be family legends rather than something which is supported by documentation. Having said that, if they lived in Belfast in the early 20th century and were of working age, then there is a good possibility that it is true.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
"Unfortunately a lot of the people who worked on the Titanic were labour-by-demand people."

Not exactly Adam.

In 1912, as with every other shipyard throughout the world, there was a central skills core of tradesmen(Journeymen) and Apprentices. Normally a yard would have a sufficient number of these on the 'books' to handle any contract. Only in the event of a growing order book or deliberate expansion would they hire more of such people. However, each one of these trades needed general labour assistance so a proportion of the work force would be permenantly employed as general labourers. The numbers of General Labourers need for any one hull number would increase for a short time before the keel was laid and a few days before the launch.

The 'labour lines' you describe would happen on about two days.. one at the beginning and one at the end. As a proportion of the total work force, the casual labour used would be very small.

Jim C.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Hi Jim,

Fair enough points, but it is well documented that unemployed men seeking work as general labourers would line up at establishments like Harland & Wolff each morning in the hope of obtaining a day's work and therefore wages to take home. There was not such a high emphasis on skills required in the early 1900's; labour was labour.

That is not to say that all of these men worked on the Titanic - it may have been that the vast majority of them were assigned to other tasks around the shipyard. However it is not difficult to imagine how, if they had done a bit of labour here and there at Harland & Wolff whilst the Titanic was under construction, even if they had nothing to do with the ship personally, that it would become a family legend over the course of generations that Great Grandpa had in fact been popping rivets into Titanic's hull, or some such.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
Hi Jim,

Fair enough points, but it is well documented that unemployed men seeking work as general labourers would line up at establishments like Harland & Wolff each morning in the hope of obtaining a day's work and therefore wages to take home. There was not such a high emphasis on skills required in the early 1900's; labour was labour.

I think I picked you up wrong Adam. I was looking at the subject purely from the aspect of shipbuilding work.

In fact, in 1912 and for many years after that, 90% of the work involved in building a ship was performed by highly skilled individuals. Most of whom were time-served tradesmen. Such labouring works as was available normally consisted of handling heavy materials such as plates, frames and girders or very large keel and launch-way blocks. That kind of work was on-going from keel-laying to and after launch-day so a team of general labourers was needed throughout the building process.

The workforce at Harland & Wolf and any other such Yards were no different. The proportion of casual labour would be very small indeed. To give you an idea of what I mean....

In 1912 and for very many years after that, before the advent of intensive welding, the largest single groups in a yard would be Platers, Riveters, Caulkers, Riveter's Catchers and Hauders and rivet boys. Next would be Iron Turners and Iron Fitters. Then would come the Steam Plant Engineers, Boiler Makers, Furnace Operators, Plumbers, Joiners, Carpenters and latterly Electricians.
Away from the building-ways would be the Loftsmen with their Screive Boards and even further, the draghtsment and Naval Architects. There would of course be Crane Operators and other plant and machinery operators. It follows that although labour-intensive; a very high proportion of those employed in building ships were highly skilled and at a premium. There may have been, as you say, many people lining-up at the Yard gates but they were chasing very few casual labouring jobs.

Jim C.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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Hi Jim,

I'm not trying to say that the shipbuilders at Harland & Wolff weren't skilled, nor am I trying to state that the vast majority of them weren't properly trained employees of the company. You're reading too much into all of this. The entirety of my point is that it's easy to see how a legend could arise that an ancestor of the family had worked on constructing the Titanic when, if they were a casual labourer who lived in or around Belfast in the early 20th century, then there is a possibility - slim or otherwise - that they had indeed done some work at Harland & Wolff at some point.

It does not necessarily have to be true or particularly factually accurate, that's how local and family legends start and that's what I was referring to.

I've read of the statistics somewhere before and I shall have to try and dig them up again, but I do know that there was a large number of casual labourers looking for work at Harland & Wolff at any given time.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Richard Hardy

Member
Nov 9, 2017
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Hi, I have been told that my grandfather James ( rubbey) Spratt worked on the Titanic as a rivet monkey when he was about 10 or 12years old is that possible and if yes how can I find out more details. Thanks Richard Hardy