Gordon belongs to: The Doxford Engine Friends Association
Gordon’s grandfather Ambrose and father Robert worked at Bartram’s shipbuilders. Gordon served his apprenticeship at Doxford's between 1955 and 1961. After his apprenticeship Gordon went to sea on the MV Tactician, built by Doxford's. He finished his working career as a school technician in 2005.
Gordon was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 9 March 2006. The interview took place at Sunderland Museum and lasted 35 minutes and 1 second.
The apprentice Strike
"The Apprentice Strike? Well, what had happened was, I think it would have been about 1959, 1958-59"
The Apprentice Strike? Well, what had happened was, I think it would have been about 1959, 1958-59, there was trouble up on the Clyde, and it did start from the Clyde. They had this leader of the apprentices, Jimmy, Jimmy somebody- he’s well known, and he’s, I think he’s still about nowadays, or he might be retired now, but he did go up in the union. And there was an Apprentice Strike and it came down, it came down to the Tyne and it came to the Wear, of course our lads were talking.
All we wanted really was an increase in our rates because they were very poor rates. I mean, when I started at Doxford’s at 15, I was only on two pound and eight old pence, then it went up to about two pund and five and sixpence, or five and four pence, three farthings. So we were very poorly paid, and the strike, the chaps, the union said, “you’re not supposed to go on strike, you can’t, apprentices can’t strike,” but we did, we did, and we had meetings outside Doxford’s gate, Doxford’s old gate and we had a delegate, apprentices got one of the apprentices who put his name forward to represent us, and his name was actually Dougie McCourt. Anyway, he went to meetings and what have you, and the federation, what happened the federation, the ship building federation decided that the wage was a bit low, and they increased the offer and we all went back.
But I suppose really we were fortunate that we weren’t sacked, because we could have been sacked. But I think the groundswell was all around the country, it wasn’t just like a local thing, it was... The Clyde was the instigator of it, and it came down to the Tyne and of course the Wear and they found well, “look, we can’t fight this, there’s too many, we have to do something about it.” And we did get a small increase in that and of course went back to work and just done our day’s work, you know. Worked hard.
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