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Readhead's Shipyard Index    Mitchell's Shipyard Index

Swan Hunter Shipyard Index      Hawthorn Leslie Shipyard Index

Vickers Armstrongs Shipyard Index   William Doxford Shipyard Index

J. L. Thompson Shipyard Index      Pallion Ship Factory Index

A & P Shipyard Index    Laing's Shipyard Index


The Shipyard Trades


The Shipyard Workers

(Note the links are shared with all of the shipyards as the Trades were the same)

When boats and ships were built up from separate items of wood the shape was built on the slipway by the Shipwright and Carpenters with the use of only a knowledgeable and judicious eye. As ships became larger, building techniques changed. The need for a more certain and unified procedure developed: a model was made of the ship and from this the shape or 'lines' could be taken and put in the form of a drawing.

Drawing Offices were set-up and here you would find the Naval Architect along with his team of Design Draughtsmen and also Estimators. There would also be separate offices for the Steel, Outfit, Piping and Electrical Drawing Offices. Also in the same office block you would find the Buyers and the Typists who would do all the paperwork for the purchasing of equipment, the Yard Manager, the Technical Manager, and also a Plan Clerk, a Print Room Operator and several Office Boys. Usually in slightly plusher office surroundings would be the Managing Director, the Yard Accountant, the Personnel Manager and all of their Secretaries and Wages Clerks.

All of the offices were kept spotless by a team of Cleaning Ladies who started early in the morning long before the staff arrived for work at 9 o'clock.

Once the order for a ship had been obtained the Designers and the other Technical staff would begin the drawings and calculations and the Buyers would source the equipment and materials.

The Design Office would produce the Preliminary Lines Plan and a book of Offsets for use by the Steel Drawing Office. The lines of the ship would be set down in the Mould Loft which was a huge space up in the roof of the Main Fabrication shed. The Loftsmen would draw out on the specially prepared floor, full size, the lines of the ship using the offsets supplied by the Design Office. Templates were produced by Template Makers and these enabled the actual shapes of the ships plates to be obtained for manufacture by the Platers. The lines of the ships frames were often transferred to a scrieve board and taken to the Frame Turners who would use it to bend the frames to the correct shape.

Burners would cut the plating to shape. These would be fitted together by Riveters and Drillers, and in later years by Welders. Plate seams needed to be sealed by the Caulkers.





The Shipwrights were responsible for setting up the building block line and the launch ways as well as the actual launching of the ship itself. They were also responsible for the erection and alignment of the ship sections. The Shipwright Liner-off  was responsible for setting-off the positions of many parts of the ship, including items of equipment, and taking into account the sheer and camber of the deck. To do this job he used detailed plans from the Drawing Office, a tape measure and a chalk-line.

The Stagers would be required to erect the staging and scaffolding around the ship on the berth and within the holds wherever it was required to provide a safe working platform for the other workers.

The Storekeepers were well organised people who controlled the issue of items for the various jobs being undertaken by their individual department such as the Plumbers, Electricians or Joiners.

The plumbers sketched/made templates which were taken to the plumbing shop where the plumbers made the pipes.  They then took them onboard, set them up and tacked them up, took them back to the plumbing shop where the plumbers welded them, tested them and some were sent to the picklers and galvanisers.  On returning they were final fitted by the plumbers.  The main engine lines i.e. hydraulic, oil etc. were fitted by the mechi fitters as their main job was fitting the engine plus tail shaft and any machinery in the engine room.  All hull pipework was done by the plumbers also.  Obviously when it came to trials the fitters did the trials with plumbers on hand to tackle any leaks. Domestic Pipe work would be made and fitted by the Plumbers and Engine Room equipment by the Fitters.

Ventilation ducting would be formed by the Sheet Metal workers. They could also be involved in making anything of thin gauge steel, such as lockers.

The Blacksmiths would make all of the ships ladders, rails and stanchions, chains and similar items.

The Electricians covered all aspects of installation of the ships electrics and included miles of wiring from switchboards, navigation equipment as well as all of the lighting systems.

The Riggers were responsible for all of the steel wire rope and fibre ropes and the associated thimbles, shackles, etc. They had a Rigging Loft often in the roof of the Main Fabrication shed. They also maintained the yards crane ropes and lifting slings and were responsible for the inspection and testing of lifting appliances.

The Crane Operators were an essential part of the shipyard and were required to be very careful and skilful in moving their loads around the yard or onto the ship.

The Joiners work consisted of manufacturing and installing the wood bulkheads and furniture in the accommodation areas of the ship.

The Painters carried out the finished painting of the external deckhouse and all of the internal painting in the accommodation spaces.

The Spray Painters would use a compressed air operated spray gun to spray paint the ships plates and sections.


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DISCLAIMER: Although attempts are made to ensure complete accuracy, I cannot accept any losses incurred due to errors or mistakes within. Data has been sourced from many places and therefore can be subject to errors. It is the individuals responsibility to double check all information.

Copyright 2008-15 John Bage

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