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Author Topic: Shipwrights  (Read 17694 times)

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Offline Signals99

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2013, 18:15:32 »
Sorry to keep banging on about this but even after all this time I still get angry.
Just listened to a comment on a radio show, ref Chatham yard "it needed closing, it was a Holiday Camp" etc, etc. The nuclear refit complex was anything but a holiday camp. If you ever worked on a refuel team and saw the craftsmanship and extreme skill required when working on a reactor system, you would understand, often this work was done wearing full protective clothing plus a respirator. I have seen men very close to collapse after ten minutes in the reactor compartment during trials, done it myself.
Yes. you did not have to do it, but we accepted it as part of the job, so please, please next time you hear the old, old stories about the yard workers, be proud of what we did, speak up for us and yourself.

Offline CDP

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2013, 23:36:25 »
The theory behind the Royal Dockyards workforce was to have a superior class of workmen who, in the event of another war, were so reliable and skilled that they were capable of training almost any type of enlisted ? workmen up to the  proper standard required rather quickly. The admiralty were satisfied with their work load if only to ensure that they kept at the Yards !!
It was possible that one or two of course slipped the net as happens in all work places.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

John38

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2013, 12:25:21 »
Hear, hear, Signals99. Well said!

But it was always thus. The 'Lazy Maties' was the common taunt.

Offline Signals99

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2013, 11:47:15 »
My last position in the yard at Chatham was a health physics monitor, in the nuclear complex.
As such it was often my task to oversee yard tradesmen working in the controlled areas. It was a privilege to watch the skills of them all, shipwrights, welders, slingers plus all the trades that went to refitting a submarine.
The main point of my story is that I am sick and tired of "the Dockyard was a rest home for lazy maties" brigade, every large organisation had its shirkers, but the refits did not do themselves.
Most of the guys in the nuclear complex worked hard, often in difficult conditions.
As for the gent who recently published remarks about "if you wanted an easy time, the yard was the place to be", I remember him well. Enough said.

Minsterboy

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2013, 15:34:01 »
I second your last comment John.
As a stevedore in Sheerness Docks, working with many ex-shipwrights, it was amazing the skilful jobs that they could do for you around the house if you wanted something made or repaired and they always referred to their dockyard apprenticeship.

John38

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #23 on: October 24, 2013, 12:55:12 »
Amazing CDP! Great story. What a strange life we all led one way or the other.

My Best Man (who was App 521 and I was App 522) went into the Navy as a Shipwright PO. He then had to learn many types of welding and blacksmithing.

At the risk of being a bore, although I never went back to Shipwrighting (the next 25, for example, were spent as RAF aircrew on long range four-jets) I always claim that the Apprenticeship/Dockyard School was the finest training for far more than just learning a trade

Offline CDP

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2013, 11:29:23 »
Another task my shipwright friend was told to do. They were leaving Bermuda in a tank landing craft when the anchor cable was caught up by something on the sea bed. When it came to the surface it was a large cable, and my friend, standing by with an axe, was ordered to cut the cable, which he did. They discoveed later that he had severed the electric supply to the main town which had suddenly been plunged into complete darknes.
My friends tank landing craft was a HUGE vessel and had a Captain R.N. in charge plus a very large team of Doctors and scientists and  loads of various animals. This ship was involved in Animal Warfare/diseases/and things!!!!! His job also involved building cages, etc
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Minsterboy

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2013, 06:05:36 »
Rambles such as yours are a valuable part of the KHF John, keep them coming.


John38

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2013, 19:18:47 »
Hello, I’m a Newbie who has just found this forum, and finds it an exciting window on the past.

This is my first post so please forgive any unintended rule breaking.

I became a Shipwright Apprentice in HM Dockyard Sheerness, in 1954 (on £1-2-4d a week) and served a 5 year apprenticeship, followed by a year as a journeyman - which I spent, following the Civil Service Commissioners Exam for draughtsman, in the Drawing Office. I can therefore answer the questions posed below, but in relation to HM Dockyard, Sheerness only - although I suspect the other yards were very similar.

Answer to Reply 1 & 2 (below)

Shipwrights worked in both wood and metal. For example they built and repaired wooden boats and masts and spars and laid and caulked the decks of the (metal) ships. They built and repaired (metal) ships including all the plating /superstructure /ventilation  trunking/ watertight doors etc. although none were actually built during my time there.
NB Most civvy shipwrights worked mainly in wood. The Admiralty shipwright was a superior animal, think of him as being both a Boatwright  and a Shipwright.

National Service would put an Admiralty Shipwright straight into the RN as a Petty Officer shipwright. Occasionally, they went stupid and put some (like me) into the RAF as an AC2!!! That’s showbiz!

Answer to Reply 3 & 4 (below)

Starting with the bottom picture and working up, here is the identity of the tools

1.   An adze and a jackplane
2.   A hollow plane (for masts), a router and a plough.
3.   A scraper, plate spanner (the pointed bit was an odger for lining up plates by pushing the point through the rivet holes), a rabbet plane, and a gouge chisel.
4.   A brace (as in brace & bit), a draw knife (mostly mast work) and a calliper

Reply 5. Very useful, thank you CDP (loved your account of your apprenticeship, elsewhere in the forum – priceless)

Answer to Reply 6.  No the spanner is fine, no handle required (in fact the antithesis).

Answer to Reply 7 Great picture, Jodest, thanks for sharing. Think I recognise 3 or 4 faces... but names, like my memory, are gone. Please note the Jackets – these were called ‘Fearnoughts’ and were the sum total of cold weather clothing I was ever issued. I can remember us going out in an open boat to patch the plate on the side of an RFA tanker that had been damaged. We thought we were going to die of cold. It was as bad as the sea-survival courses I would later survive, in the winter English Channel, as RAF aircrew.


Answer to Reply 8.  Petermilly is not far wrong. The second sixth months of year 2 of the apprenticeship was spent on the first floor of the famous Boathouse. We had stayed as a group (about 10 of us) throughout, but here we split into two groups and each group produced a clinker built dinghy (2 off). I guess they were about 14/16 foot long. We used mainly Canadian rock elm and the planking (believe it or not) was all mahogany. Copper clenched throughout. The worst part was sandpapering the whole completed boat, by hand.  The painters then varnished them and they lookedwonderful

Answer to Reply 9.  Scintilla is exactly right of course (see answer 1 above)

Answer to Reply 10.  I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that CDP is a valuable asset hereabouts. Here he is exactly right. Shipwrights did most things. I have laid the lino (cortacene ? ) on mess decks, fitted fibre glass insulation on bulkheads, cut and fitted rubber on watertight doors, fitted ‘zincs’ around the outlets and rudder etc. Deptford Shipwrights built the book presses for Samuel Pepys. Shipwrights (as you know) also built the wooden houses in Blue Town in which I lived as a kid!

Your ref to ‘odd job man’ reminds me of a certain ambivalence that existed towards shipwrights from some dockyard trades who suggested that: Engine fitters worked to the nearest thousandth of an inch, Electricians to the nearest amp and Shipwrights to the nearest ship. In such instances, I always refer people to the wreck on the flag of Bermuda! When the early settlers of Virginia were shipwrecked on the uninhabited island of Bermuda they thanked God that they had a couple of shipwrights with them. These shipwrights, salvaged tackle and bits and pieces from the wreck, chopped down trees and built two ships. They not only saved the castaways, but saved Virginia and English speaking America, by sailing from Bermuda to Jamestown. They then sailed the DIY ships back to Britain and then back out to Jamestown again ...not bad for ‘odd job’ men!

(The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America
By Lorri Glover, Daniel Blak
e Smith[/i])

Other Points.  I note Kevin has ‘Hawthorne Avenue’ as his logo ... I lived there from 1953(4?) to 1959 at which time I married a Sheerness girl, and 54 years later we both live in Yorkshire

Annieoburns says that her granddad was evacuated to Wales and stayed there. My parents evacuated me FROM Wales to Sheppey in 1941 and I never went back to Wales!

Sorry if I rambled!

Offline CDP

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2013, 10:57:01 »
Caught out at last !
Would you be Annie O'Burns ? ( who is that I ask myself !!)
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

annieoburns

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2013, 09:01:04 »
Apologies for not recognising you Colin!  :)

  I am reading over your posts here with great interest and appreciation.  I am interested in the the history of Sheerness and had shipwrights, coastguards and master mariners based there but all gone by 1940 when my grandfather, who was a primary school teacher in Marinetown, was evacuated to Wales where he remained for the rest of his days.

Offline CDP

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2013, 19:27:44 »
I was correct .   http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands in the previous annieoburns note shows St. Katherines dock and not St. Katherins dock.

I always knew that my old friend Bert Shardlow was right. He would always say it as such!!
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

annieoburns

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2013, 17:05:36 »
There is small display of things of interest  concerning shipwrights up in London at

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands

Their distinctively designed toolbox and a set of tools is on display and some contracts for ship's crew showing the pecking order of the personnel on board and the relative importance of the shipwright.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2013, 21:32:44 »
We used the spanner to locate the fish-plate-rail holes then put the bolts in loose. The next step was to use the taper to force the ends of the rails apart to provide the expansion joint, the the bolts were done up tight and the rail dogged down. Funny how things come back when least expected.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Kevin

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Re: Shipwrights
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2013, 11:09:44 »
As a Shipwright Apprentice in the Mast House 1962-65 we made 7 & 14 foot clinker built boats. I believe they were for the sailing club at Thunder Bolt pier (not sure though).

Regarding the photos of the wood planes, we made some of these during are first three months of apprentice training (upper level of the Mast House). The mouth of the plane seemed to always split out, I guess the wood chisel wasn't sharp enough.

One of the instructors at the time was Burt Samways. I forget the names of the two old cleaners who used to hang their coats by the wood steamer.

 

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