Ian McCallum

We are very grateful to Ian McCallum for this piece about his time working at Campbeltown Shipyard. As you will see from the photos, Ian didn’t just work at the shipyard, he also played the pipes at the launches.

Ian McCallum – far right: Fidelis II takes to the sea – Campbeltown Courier, 3rd March, 1978. Courtesy of Campbeltown Library.

Ian McCallum – Campbeltown Shipyard 4th July 1977 until it closed.

I have lots of happy memories of my time at Campbeltown Shipyard. I started there as a young

16-year-old apprentice, with a brief break when I was made redundant and then taken back on, working there until it closed.

More often than not, you went to work with a smile on your face and returned home the same way. It was a great place to work and what made it that way was all those who worked there, all the characters, friendship made that lasted a lifetime.

As a young apprentice at the yard we were sent on many a wild goose chase.

“Get me a 3-pin sky hook”

“Get me a 45° burning nosil”

Off we’d go in search of the 3-pin sky hook asking each man you came across if they knew where you could get one, “Naw, I had it but I gave it to……..” by the time you’d asked 3, 4, 5 men the penny would finally drop….. there is no such thing as a 3-pin sky hook, ha! ha! ha! It was a rite of passage for young apprentices.

Four Campbeltown Shipyard Welders: L-R Willie Paterson, Gordon Wilson Jim Martin and Ian McCallum. Photo courtesy of Billy Morran.

There were lots of characters in the yard, that’s partly why it was such a great place to work.

· Malcom (The Tiger) Hamilton, would tell us stories about his time serving in the army during WW2. He had 2 birthdays, his real birthday and his army birthday. He lied about his age so that he could join up to fight in WW2.

· Donald (Mucka Fee) McFee. He had a saying for everything. “if you canna see the top o’ Bengullion from the yerd it’s goin’ to rain, if you canna see Bengullion it’s rainin’”.

When asked if someone had passed away, he’d reply “well they buried him yesterday”.

I worked alongside Willy Sloss for several years, both as an apprentice and after. Willy was a sheet metal worker who served his time at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank. Willy was the go-to man if you needed anything fixed or repaired. From pot handles to practically rebuilding cars, Willy could & did repair anything & everything.

Jim Williamson, Andrew Sloss and Willie Sloss, Campbeltown Shipyard workers in Shetland, working at Malakoff Shipyard. Photo courtesy of Billy McLean.

Many of us started our working life at the yard as young lads just out of school and left as young men. Most of us not only learned a trade from the most skilled men around we picked up additional skills & knowledge that enabled us to be able to turn our hands to most things, setting us up with valuable skills we’d use throughout our future working life. Working at the yard was some of the best days of my working life, giving me memories and laughs never to be forgotten.

The Boy Andrew WK 170 (Yard No. 74). Launch day at Campbeltown Shipyard, 1986.  Shipyard workers and Campbeltown pipers, John Lang Brown and Ian McCallum. Photo courtesy of Bobby Wylie.


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