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You wouldn’t likely go on your own, you had a labourer with you and you were given jobs. In them days it was templates, you were given templates and the templates went to the shop and they manufactured it. They did a sketch they came in and drew it out and the measurements went to the shop and were put in the machine. And you did all kinds of work, you would do all kinds of steam pipe, drains, scuppers, soil pipes, everything, hot and cold fresh water. And depending how good you were or whether the gaffer liked you – that was another thing, if the gaffer liked you, you were in and if the gaffer didn’t like you, you were out. And I was lucky. People I worked for, I got on well with them. And we used to work 2 half shifts to quarter to nine at night on a Tuesday and a Thursday, and I would work Wednesday nights as well. Cos I had to bring myself up and the gaffer was always pretty friendly with me, and me mate never worked on Wednesday night, in them days you were told you worked and you would tell your mate so your mate never got the extra time.
Some lads worked 2 of the apprentices together – I never did that, I always worked with a labourer and I gradually worked my way up into the accommodation and I stayed in accommodation and I got on very well with a man who take over but him and I fell out one time. I went home on a Thursday night because I was fed of being stood on by, because everyone would stand on everybody and he took the huff and for five years I never worked on a ship by the river, I worked on the ships by the stocks – in the bowels of the ship. I never got any good jobs and I got all the rubbish but I stuck it out but it never bothered us.
So could you just describe, you said that you worked on the ships in the stocks, how did that work differ to the other work?
Well it was just one big rust bucket on the side of the stocks. There were big holes everywhere, the rain came in, the wind, the snow. You went on board wet and you stayed wet all day. It was dirty, scruffy, so that was the thing, I mean I went to the bottom of the tanks and I never saw daylight from the minute you went in, in the morning to twelve o’clock, you went back again, you only get paid eight hours candle allowance you might get a penny an hour extra for working these conditions and you worked a half shift when you weren’t supposed to go back but they wouldn’t give you another job you had to go into the tank and work.