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.
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.
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.
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.