Crossing the Bar

An Oral History of the British Shipbuilding, Ship Repairing and Marine Engine-Building Industries in the Age of Decline, 1956-1990

Edited by Anthony Slaven and Hugh Murphy

£25.00
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ISBN: 9781786948847

Publication: October 18, 2017

Series: Research in Maritime History 51

This book is a collection of sixty interviews with key figures in British shipbuilding, ship repair, and marine engine-building industries across the United Kingdom, plus government and civil service members in the sector from the 1960s to the 1980s. The aim of the project is to understand the economic, social, and political environment of the shipping industry from the perspective of those who worked in it. The interviews place the twentieth century decline of British shipbuilding into a firm context. The topics covered include international competition (a recurring, pertinent theme); labour difficulties; industry modernisation; the attitude of shipowners; the strong belief in traditional methods which kept many of those in the industry from recognising the cheaper, faster, and better quality work taking place overseas and leaving Britain behind; ship production and production control; the postwar boom; shipyard overcrowding; the decline of the domestic industry in favour of the international; marketing weaknesses; trade disputes and trade unions; and nationalisation and privatisation concerns. Opinions and viewpoints often conflict, particularly between the perspectives of those working within the industry and the civil servants working outside of it, but the interviews are presented as a unit, and the reader is encouraged to draw their own conclusion. The result is a unique historical archive that offers a multitude of firsthand perspectives on the British shipping decline, open to interpretation by historians and future researchers. It includes a preface, introduction, and select bibliography. The interviews are grouped together by location and role.

Hugh Murphy is Senior Caird Research Fellow at the National Maritime Museum and a Researcher at the Centre for Business History in Scotland at the University of Glasgow.

About the Editors / vii Preface: A Shipbuilding Libretto / ix Introduction / xi Interviews Lower Clyde 1. Alexander Ross Belch, Lithgows, Scott Lithgow, British Shipbuilders Plc / 1 2. Johnston Robb, Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering, Scott Lithgow Ltd. / 7 3. Willie Ferguson, William Hamilton and Sons, Lithgows, Scott Lithgow Ltd. / 12 Upper Clyde 4. Sir Eric Yarrow, Weir Engineering, Cathcart, Yarrow Shipbuilders / 19 5. Dr. Brian Baxter, Yarrow Shipbuilders / 21 6. Bob Easton, Yarrow Shipbuilders / 26 7. Sandy Stephen, Alexander Stephen Shipbuilders and Engineers / 29 8. Professor John Rorke, Alexander Stephen, Denny Brothers, Brown Brothers / 33 9. Fred Walker, Denny Brothers, Fairfield, Connell and Hall Russell / 36 10. Jolyon Slogett, Denny Brothers, Houlder Bros., British Shipbuilders Plc / 40 11. Dr. John Brown, John Brown, Clydebank / 43 12. Graham Strachan, Alexander Stephen, John Brown and Scott Lithgow / 47 13. J.F. Starks, John Brown, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders / 51 14. Anthony Hepper, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders / 54 15. Harry Osborne, Civil Engineer / 57 The Tyne 16. G.H.R. Towers, John Redhead and Sons Ltd. / 59 17. J.E. Steele, Swan Hunter, British Shipbuilders Plc / 62 18. Peter Milne, Swan Hunter, British Shipbuilders Plc / 74 19. P.D. Christie, Swan Hunter / 77 20. James Jardine, Smith’s Dock, Swan Hunter / 80 21. Eric Crowdy, Hawthorn Leslie, George Clark NEM, William Doxford Engineers / 82 22. M.F. Pyman, Mercantile Dry Dock Co. Ltd., Jarrow / 87 The Wear 23. Arthur Storey, NEM, Doxford and Vickers Engineers, Austin and Pickersgill/ 91 24. Ken Douglas, Wm. Gray, Austin and Pickersgill, UCS, British Shipbuilders Plc/ 93 25. Derek Kimber, Fairfield, Harland and Wolff, Austin and Pickersgill/ 101 Barrow-in-Furness 26. Bill Richardson, Vickers Armstrong, Swan Hunter, British Shipbuilders Plc / 109 27. Roy Turner, Vickers / 112 The South Coast 28. Peter Usher, Vosper Thornycroft / 119 The Humber 29. John Leathard, Richard Dunston, Hessle/ 125 Belfast 30. Dr. Denis Rebbeck, Harland and Wolff / 129 31. T. John Parker, Harland and Wolff, Austin and Pickersgill, British Shipbuilders Plc / 133 32. Eric Mackie, Harland and Wolff Ship Repairers, British Shipbuilders Plc / 138 British Shipbuilding Industry Officials 33. R.D. Brown, SRNA, AWES / 143 34. Joseph Charles Asher, SEF, Shipbuilding Conference, BSRA / 145 35. G.R. Snaith, BSRA, British Shipbuilders Plc / 149 The Trade Unions 36. James Airlie, Lobnitz, Faifield, UCS, Amalgamated Engineering Union / 153 37. Jim McFall, Boilermakers Society / 157 38. Alex Ferry, AEU, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions / 160 The Civil Servants, Board of Trade, Shipbuilding Enquiry Committee, Shipbuilding Industry Board, Ministry of Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Industry 39. Reay Geddes, Shipbuilding Inquiry Committee / 164 40. Victor Chapman, Board of Trade, Ministry of Technology, DTI, SIC / 165 41. Cliff Baylis. Ministry of Technology, SRNA / 169 42. Barry Barker, Shipbuilding Industry Board / 172 43. Vivian Marchant, Dept of Industry / 175 44. Ron Dearing, DTI / 179 Politicians 45. Tony Benn, Minister of Technology, Secretary of State for Industry/ Energy / 183 46. Norman Tebbitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry / 188 47. Teddy Taylor, MP, Scottish Office Minister for Industry / 190 48. Bob Clay, M.P, Sunderland North / 191 British Shipbuilders Plc 49. Admiral Sir Anthony Griffin, Chairman, 1977-1980 / 195 50. Michael Casey, Chief Executive, 1977-1980 / 201 51. Ken Griffin, Deputy Chairman, 1977-1983 / 204 52. Michael Haines, Acting Finance Director, 1977 / 206 53. Reg Arnell, Director and Board Member, Finance, 1977-1991 / 208 54. Dr. Martin Stopford, Group Economist, Director Business Development, 1977-1988 / 210 55. Richard Dykes, Director of Industrial Relations, 1977-1980 / 214 56. R.J. Daniel, Board Member Warshipbuilding, 1979-1984 / 216 57. Robert Atkinson, Chairman, 1980-1983 / 218 58. Graham Day, Chairman, 1983-1986 / 220 59. Geoff Fuller, Board Member, Warshipbuilding, 1983-1986 / 223 60. Maurice Phelps, Director of Personnel, 1980-1987, Chief Executive, 1986-1987 / 225 Conclusion / 229

Format: Ebook

245 Pages

ISBN: 9781786948847

Publication: October 18, 2017

Series: Research in Maritime History 51

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