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> Shipyards At War
Rab
post 17th Dec 2013, 02:33pm
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QUOTE (dugald @ 17th Dec 2013, 11:57am) *
Jupitor, your late aunt was just one of many who suffered as she did. Working on the Clyde back in these days caused many deaths from the asbestos that'd had widespread use for insulation. The person I mentioned earlier from Fairfields who worked on Mullbary died from the same lung disease; however, he did live till he was 84. There were four young fellows in my cycling club in Govan who served their apprenticeships together as joiners in Fairfields; all four of them died very young from the same lung disease... brutal. By the way they were not installing asbestos, they were working on the refurbishment of the troopship Empress of Scotland just after the war, and were removing the asbestos.


Simons-Lobnitz as a company was dissolved in the early 60s but cases of asbestos-related diseases ie. mesothelioma etc. were being pursued right into the late 80s by former workers of the company who had worked on mainly pipe-lagging with asbestos.


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TeeHeeHee
post 17th Dec 2013, 02:36pm
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Hi Dugald, I can certainly sympathise with those poor Folks who seccumbed to that dreaded asbestos. A few years ago while working here in the area for a local agency, I was sent into Basel where I had the Task of removing a lot of steel pipes from a factory chimney stack with the use of a cutting torch. This area was in the process of having it's asbestos linings removed and was designated as the "Black" area. Those of us who worked within this Black area had to wear fully insulated rubber suits with breathing masks. We entered though a series of sealed Units where we stripped off to our undies and continued through to don our gear before passing into the black area; the procedure being reversed on exiting. I had someone Standing by to make sure that I hadn't, without noticing, accidently got a burn hole in my safety suit. Two hours in with 20 minutes out and repeated.
During my time in there I had the uncanny Feeling that this is how it must have looked in Chernobil after that accident back then; the asbestos particles permantly Floating ever so slowly down to the floor while the only Sound to be heard being one's own breathing through the mask was just about the spookiest experience I'd every known.
On top of that I was losing weight through sweating inside that rubber suit.
After two weeks I'd had enough and told the gaffer to get in touch with the ageny for a replacement for me.
"Is it the Money? I'll give you €5 an hour on top of what the agency are paying you if you come onto our firm"
"Make that €50 an hour on top Jimmy ... and you'll still Need a replacement next Monday".
Apart from the extreme weight loss - and I'm 2lb heavier than a balloon at the best of times - just being in that black area was a permanent reminder to me of all the people who ended up as physical wrecks as a result of asbestos.
No thanks! ... and that was a BIG no thanks!


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"Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't, don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.”
― Joseph Heller, God Knows
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Rab
post 17th Dec 2013, 02:46pm
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QUOTE (dugald @ 17th Dec 2013, 12:28pm) *
Very interesting indeed, Wellfield. If there is one other way I'd dearly have liked to have got married, that would have been on the Queen Mary, and I mean the one on which you got married,not the wee one on the Clyde (although come to think of it, that wouldn't have been bad either). I spent my honeymoon in New York city and while there we visited the Queen Mary which happened to be docked while we were there. The closest I ever got to her was when I managed to stretch out and touch her rusting hull. I'd seen her so often at the Tail o' the Bank, but never this close.


Dugald. The 24 lifeboats (to hold 3,600) of the old Queen Mary were built by Hugh MacLean and Sons, at their Govan and Renfrew yards.

** Some 20 years ago when I was still sailing, I ventured up the River Fal in Cornwall and stopped for lunch at a famous restaurant named Smugglers Cottage. This was a WW2 naval base for the American Navy build-up to the Normandy landings and was Gen. Eisenhowers HQ. The entire place is a museum to those days when the whole river was packed with thousands of ships waiting for the 'off'. I was sitting in the hot sunshine enjoying a real Cornish Pasty' at a table converted from an old lifeboat and -yes - it had a wee plate on the edge of the table which read 'Built by Hugh MacLean & Sons, Renfrew' which pleased me. yes.gif I found another MacLean-built boat in my old boatyard in Hayling Island in later years and I wondered how many there are worldwide slowly and inevitably rotting away.


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dugald_old
post 17th Dec 2013, 10:23pm
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That's a proper horror story Thh! Ah widnae touch that factory chimney stack wi' a triple length barge pole, let alone an acetylene torch... no, not for a Campbeltown loch filled with Whisky, let alone an additional £50/hour. It must have been tough working while wearing all that protective clothing. Yes, I'm sure too, it would have had a touch of the Chernobil feeling about it, an' a wouldn't work there for a Campbeltown loch filled with Whisky either.

"2lb heavier than a balloon", wow! You must be a fit man young fellow: good diet, clean living, gute Leibesübung, all that goes with it... good for you. Now, I suppose there could be other reasons, but we won't go into that.

Yes Thh, a horror story, but not without something interesting to relate.
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*Guvin Jimm*
post 17th Dec 2013, 10:54pm
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QUOTE (dugald @ 16th Dec 2013, 01:37am) *
The noise of the yards with which you were brought up in Renfrew Rab, was not unlike the sound of my Govan. The brief interesting history of the Lobnitz-built HMS Pelorus which you told us about, is not a warship with which I was familiar. Oh yes, I'm familiar with the Lobnitz yard however, although I couldn't name another boat built there.

You know, when one grows up in a small part of a big city like you in Renfrew and me in Govan, one can very easily acquire the idea that the skyline around the area where one lives is permanent. I'm thinking here of living beside say, Fairfields. From the top deck of a tram car one could see big ships right into the basin of this big yard and cease to be awed by their size.

I'm thinking here in particular of the big battleship that 'grew up' in Govan for a long time along with me. I mentioned this ship in one of my earlier posts dealing with the Queen Mary II. She started out as the "Beatty" named after Admiral Beatty, but finished up as the "Howe"named after Admiral Howe. I saw her leave the Fairfield basin one Sunday in 1942. I was one among hundreds of onlookers lining the Clyde on the waste ground between Fairfields and Stephen's yards to view this secret wartime departure of the giant.

As she crawled past the cheering hundreds of people her size, the immense altitude of her superstructure, the gigantic guns of the main armament, just seemed so unreal. She towered away above the height of the Linthouse Buildings. She could hardly squeeze along the Clyde... a fearsome looking weapon if ever I saw one. She was off on her way to war and did eventually see service right through to the end.

In the early post war years there was a whole fleet of major battleships all of the same class as the Howe anchored in Loch Striven. I saw these ships many times, but didn't of course know which had originated in Govan. All I can say for sure is that the Prince of Wales wasn't there, having met her demise at the hands of the Japanese off the coast of Malaysia in1941.

Heady time for naval construction Rab, alas.....

There were many warships built in Fairfields; I cant find a categorical list but there is a Fairfields cultural & historical site that may help. There was one particular warship that may have started of as a cruiser and ended up after 20 years on the stocks as a helcopter transport ship. It was kept there to retain a pool of skilled workers during a period before the modernisation of the British navy in the early 60s. It was refered to as the Govan rent book and althouht I remember it well, having worked there during its' lifetime I cant at this moment remember its' name. I do remember the H.M.S. Venus being brought back for refurbishment in the early 60s and I worked on the H.M.S. Fife the first all welded aluminum superstructure warship. My whole family, three generations worked in Fairfields and we lived 2mins. walk from the back door near the "Wattur"
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wellfield
post 18th Dec 2013, 12:39am
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Your right on Dugald....the only shipbuilding here is related to the U.S. military....as in regard to you in the US Air Force,just think!!!!...all the gals you want! (triple the wages of the British soldiers,God bless them) the sun-tan...the postings... I myself was drafted into the US Army in the 60's, a 6 year obligation,I was proud to have served my new country (even though I still had my thick Springburn accent)....I liked your saying (touching the hull) ...every ship that is built requires a lot of thought /hard work/sweat/feelings/so the fact of actually touching the hull of the ship is a person paying respect to the workmanship of your fellow countrymen...I.myself feel proud of touching the hulls of *RMS Queen Mary*....*QE2* and the *Cutty Sark*......It's always a pleasure over here to dine aboard vessel converted into a floating restaurants top find out they were Clyde built!! (many of them) and all my deepest respect to all the craftsmen who worked on the river Clyde and their fellow countrymen who carried on the *CLYDE* tradition throughout the maritime world .....great thread!
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wellfield
post 18th Dec 2013, 12:53am
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Just caught your post 'Rab'......I use to drive past the lifeboats you mentioned in your post,and to include the *Queen Mary* smokestacks daily on my way to work in the local shipyard which were stored on Pacific Ave in San Pedro,California and often wondered the stories behind these lifeboats,were they built in the yard or by an outside contractor,you've answered my question.
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Dave Grieve
post 18th Dec 2013, 07:56am
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Interesting topic, another website I look into every day is clydesite.co.uk this give a list of every ship built on the Clyde with their histories as far as can be certain
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dugald_old
post 18th Dec 2013, 03:47pm
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"I wondered how many there are worldwide slowly and inevitably rotting away. "

I'm sure they're scattered all over the world Rab, although I've never had the pleasure of coming across one myself. The closest I've come to a similar experience was coming off a troopship at Port Said and waiting to board a train and noticing that the train engine had been built at the St Rollox Works in Glasgow... but, must admit I'd much sooner have eaten Cornish past on an old Govan lifeboat made into a table.

I remember the yard of the MacLean Boat Builders in Govan. It wasn't actually on the banks of the Clyde like all the other yards. It was located quite some distance from the river in fact, right where the Vogue Cinema was eventually built. The outstanding memory I have of the yard is the demolishing of the very high chimney stack. I think every school kid in Govan watched this great spectacle, quite a sight. This would have been sometime before the war, not sure when.

I might mention I too would have enjoyed your experience venturing up the River Fal in Cornwall and stopping for lunch at Eisenhower's old HQ. The closest I ever came to that was crossing over from the Gare Loch to Coulport shortly after the Yankee Navy had evacuated their large naval base stretching up to the top of the hill. It was deserted; looked like they had just packed up and left.... that's probably exactly what they did!
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Rab
post 18th Dec 2013, 08:33pm
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**I remember the yard of the MacLean Boat Builders in Govan. It wasn't actually on the banks of the Clyde like all the other yards. It was located quite some distance from the river in fact,

Renfrew was similar Dugald. Their small yard was adjacent to the Clyde Navigation Trust place right next to Renfrew Ferry.
MacLeans foundry though was a wee bit away at the bottom of Campbell Street, only yards from my tenement hame. As a wee boy I would stand at the huge sliding doors of the foundry, deafened by the enormous forge-hammers bashing lumps of white-hot metal into cranks or shafts of some kind, making clouds of sparks fly. The noise,smell and experience was frightening and awesome at the same time and us weans loved it. Pollution and health and safety didn't seem to mean much in those days some 70 years ago. By the way, MacLeans yard was unique on the Clyde as they used a 'patent-slip' where vessels were launched on a kind of giant trolley which was recovered after launch and used for another build. I believe this made a quicker turn-round between builds yes.gif


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Rab
post 18th Dec 2013, 08:46pm
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All you 'Queen Mary' lovers out there might be interested to know that Lobnitz & Co of Renfrew launched what was probably the first 'Queen Mary' named ship on the Clyde.
SS QUEEN MARY
Yard No 775 was launched: Thursday, 30/10/1913 and was a bucket dredger, a Lobnitz speciality.
She was built to order for the Government of Bermuda. She was sold in 1919 to the Government of Nigeria. She was scrapped in 1955 so more than paid for her cost.


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Rab
post 18th Dec 2013, 09:13pm
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Another famous ship built at Renfrew was by Simons & Co - HMS RECLAIM. Deep Diving Vessel. Launched in 1948, she took part in the discovery of the Submarine HMS AFFRAY one of the worst submarine disasters in peacetime with the loss of 75 lives.
Reclaim was originally intended to be a King Salvor Class Ocean Salvage Vessel named Salverdent. However she was completed as a deep diving and submarine rescue vessel. Reclaim was the Royal Navy's only vessel capable of deep diving. For the detection of wrecks she carried underwater television, sonar and echosounding equipment and she was also fitted for submarine rescue work.Upon completion Reclaim was employed as a diving tender attached to HMS Vernon, Portsmouth.
On June 14th 1951 Reclaim discovered the wreck of the submarine Affray, lost since April 17th, using her new underwater television equipment. Over a three month period Reclaim's divers investigated the site and on July 1st, Affray's schnorkel mast was recovered from the seabed. This had snapped at the base due to a structural weakness and provided important evidence regarding the cause of the tragedy. However further attempts to study the Affray and determine the cause of her loss were abandoned when a radioactive isotope being used to take X-ray photographs of the hull was dropped and diving declared unsafe.

Incidentally, one of Reclaim's divers working on the Affray was Lt.Cdr. Lionel 'Buster' Crabbe, who in 1956 disappeared in Portsmouth Harbour whilst examining the hull of a Russian cruiser making a courtesy visit. His headless, handless body was found 14 months later off Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour.


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Rab
post 19th Dec 2013, 10:15pm
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According to some statistics I found - during the entire course of WW2 all Clyde shipyards turned out 60 new vessels each week on average. Astounding!.


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Rab
post 19th Dec 2013, 10:19pm
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According to some statistics I found - during the entire course of WW2, Clyde shipyards turned out 994 vessels for the Navy and 503 merchant vessels. 60 new vessels each week on average. Astounding!.


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DannyH
post 20th Dec 2013, 12:24am
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Hello Dugald

I was interested to read your story regarding HMS Howe, and thought you might be interested to in the following wee story.

After the war, a Sea Cadet unit was formed, and named 'The Howe'. Their football team reached the UK national Sea Cadet finals and played at Wembley. I don't know how they fared.

Their 'coach' was Bobby Mee a former sailor on the Howe. He later ran an amateur team in the Scottish Amateur League. It was named the Howe. I played for them in the late 1950's. Bobby worked in G&J Weir of Cathcart, later to be known as Weir Pumps, as did I and most of the players in the team at that time.

Regards

Danny Harris
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