Harry belongs to: The Coble and Keelboat Society
Harry grew up on the Lawe Top in South Shields. He served an apprenticeship on the tugboats and worked on the Titan Crane. Harry is a member of the Coble and Keelboat Society.
Harry was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 31 January 2006. The interview took place at South Shields Museum and lasted 1 hour, 20 minutes and 15 seconds.
Progress through the tug boats
"On some tugs you had some right lazy buggers, so literally they’d treat the lad as though he were a pair of..."
On some tugs you had some right lazy buggers, so literally they’d treat the lad as though he were a pair of... you know, just, you always got some blokes. We got some good boats, good crews and everything, but you always got the odd one. There was always one on a tug who used to treat the lads bad, you know.
And what would happen is as you were going up the river, you know, you were keen as mustard, you know, and you’d gone in the stokeroom and the fireman said, “we’ll show you how to fire,” and you’d slowly start firing. That’s the first things you’d do, you’d learn how to fire, steam the boat, pump the boiler and things like that. And slowly, they would let you… “you’re doing alright there, son, go down and chuck some coal on,” you were keen as, and after about six months you were saying, “bloody hell, I’m doing his job- he’s sitting on the deck drinking tea and I’m sweating here!” you know, but you had to do it.
And sometimes you would go up on the bridge, you’d be coming down the river, take a city boat down to Newcastle quay or something, a lovely summer’s morning, you know, and you’d be coming down the river and the skipper would whistle to you, “going up to get a cup of tea,” and the skipper would say, “righto, take the wheel,” and he’d go and stand in the wheel house and you’d be on the top on your own. You’d think you were on your own but he was watching you, you know, and you learnt that side of it.
So basically in the four year apprenticeship you either prefer to go engine side or you wanted to go on deck, you know. But when you got to 18, you were allowed to go fireman because when you got the annual holidays three weeks a year, the fireman would go off, and if you were 18 you would go deck hand or fireman, so you would work deck hand, fireman for about three months a year, as the difference of the crews, the mate would go skipper, you know for the three weeks the skipper was off, the second engineer would go chief and he was learning all the time, and that was like a procedure and you were doing that for four and a half years.
Harry has 24 memories in the memorynet:
Harry's memories with a The North East theme:
- Joining the tug boats
- The foy boats and skulling
- Value of the tug boat apprenticeship
- Routines on the tug boats
- Leaving the tug boats and moving to the Titan Crane
- Foy boatmen
- Sculling a foy boat
- The Joffre
- The crew of the Tynesider
- The Titan crane at work
- The Royal Diadem II
Harry's other memories: