Arthur Crossan – Plater/Welder

Arthur Crossan, former welder/plater at Campbeltown Shipyard Ltd from July 1975 to August 1980. Photo courtesy of Jan Nimmo.

In June 1975 I applied for a job at Campbeltown Shipyard through the schools careers teacher, Donald Leys. At that time there were plenty of opportunities for school leavers to gain apprenticeship qualifications in Campbeltown.

I first visited the shipyard in April 1970. Our class at Dalintober Primary School was invited to attend the launching of a fishing boat, Yard No. 006, “Aquarian CN 42”. The reason we got the invite was that a classmate of mine, Danny Galbraith’s dad, Archie, had ordered the boat.

Arthur Crossan as a schoolboy at Dalintober Primary School, Campbeltown. Photo courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

The Aquarian CN 42 – Photo by Gordon Hunter (?) and courtesy of Danny Galbraith.

I started at the “yerd” on the 7th July 1975 after a successful interview with yard manager, Trevor Perkins. I was offered a four year apprenticeship with the opportunity to attend Anniesland College, in Glasgow, on job release, to gain a City and Guilds qualification. The wages at that time were £16 per week (£5 per week dig money to the auld yin, £1 per week for Littlewoods catalogue and the rest on bevvy lol!).

On my first day I was to work with the legend that was Davie Wilson. I can even remember my first job fitting the stern rollers. The first boat I worked on was the Ajax INS 168 – Yard No. 026. My first week consisted of “Who are you, son? Oh aye, I know you noo – Carol McAulay’s boy”

I worked with Davie on the slip – our tasks were laying the keel, frames and the deck sections – once the main shell was completed we would start the shell plating. It was always good when the boat was plated up as you could hide in the fish-room haha!

The Platers Squad:

Pete Stimson (supervisor), Dick Potts, Sandy O’May, Eddie Morran, Jimmy Dunn, Evan McCowan, George Nelson, Charlie McPherson, Al McKenzie, and Chris Blair… to name but a few.

After 18 months on the slip we all got rotated. I was sent to the fabrication shop where all the sections were constructed, i.e. deck sections, forepeak sections, gutting shelters etc.

I worked with Dave Davis (“Dave the Yank”) on the engine room tank sections, I worked with Neil McCormick on the stern sections, and with Norman Stewart on the hydraulic frame former (bender). I also worked with Hamish Jackson on the gutting shelters. Then, after around 14 months, we were rotated again and I went to work with the fitting-out squad.

Campbeltown Shipyard Certificate for Completion of Apprenticeship. Signed by Adam McClelland on 3rd September 1980. Courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

 The fitting out supervisor was Davie Wike a Barnsley lad. I was sent to work with Willie McIntyre, an ex-miner, as a good percentage of the men were. Our tasks were fitting watertight doors and hatches, anchor-pockets, fitting gutting shelters, forepeak, handrails etc.

I completed my apprenticeship on 7th July 1979. I worked at the “yerd” for another year, then, as the oil boom was at its peak in Scotland, I went to Ardesier, between Inverness and Nairn, to work in an oil rig yard. I worked there for around 18 months then I got work at Highland Fabricators in Nigg Bay, near Tain.

I’ve worked in Norway and Holland too (oil industry and shipyards). I worked locally with Neil McCormick and had a good few years at the Campbeltown Creamery Maintenance Department. I also worked in the wind turbine industry, servicing and erecting turbines.

Arthur Crossan working at Hoogezand, Holland, 1990. Photo courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

A. Colville (Buzz), A.Crossan, J.L.Brown and P.McCallum…. All four were Campbeltown Shipyard-trained apprentices working in Holland, 1990. Photo courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

Arthur Crossan working at the offshore wind turbine site in Burbo Bank, Liverpool, 2008. Photo courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

10 years ago I decided on a career change and now work for Caledonian MacBrayne, a ferry company (a good wee number!).

I will never forget my time at the “yerd”, the good people I worked with, the pride we had in our work and, most importantly, the friendships that I made for life. I would like to thank these men for passing on their knowledge to me,

and for helping me, as a young 16 year old starting out in life. It was great start in life and I would do it all again! Many, many thanks!

Arthur Crossan, (Arto the Scot) September 2019.

Shipbuilding Industry Training Board Certificate of Craftsmanship – September 1980. Courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

Shipbuilding Industry Training Board Certificate of Craftsmanship – September 1980. Courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

GMB Trade Union Contribution Card for Campbeltown Shipyard (Check off). Courtesy of Arthur Crossan.

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1 Comment

  1. Joan Mackenzie18 September 2019 at 9:36 AM

    You’ve done so well Arthur xx I can also remember that trip to the shipyard for the launching as it was also quite sad as Hamish McMillan had just lost his mum? however it was a memorable day as I was proud that my uncle John Kerr worked there as did my late dad John McCallum (chunky) as was my ex big Al ?? go you xxx


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