We are grateful to Carolyn Randall for the following piece. Her father, Douglas McNaught was a key figure in the drawing office at Campbeltown Shipyard Ltd.
It was always exciting going to Dad’s office. Graeme, my brother and I had to climb steep stairs to reach it which had fantastic views – double aspect, over Campbeltown and its loch. I used to be very interested each time I visited to see how many more rubbers Dad had. I remember a very large drawing board set against the wall behind the door. It had long wooden drawing tools and one tool in particular that always interested me – a transparent plastic curved shape (called ship’s curves). Dad’s writing in pencil would be all over the current drawing detailing numbers and areas of the boat. I loved his fancy writing – neat and tidy. His office was pretty draughty and cold until he was treated to double glazing. Dad would often work at home – Mum used to tell us how Dad had been up late in the night ‘til the small hours, working on his calculations – it afforded him peace and quiet.
A memorable moment was when the office got a photocopier and Dad allowed us to photocopy our hands – that was amazing! And then a revolution occurred when Dad spoke about ‘CADCAM’ – computer aided design and we saw the drawings being printed out.
Kittens and cats used to feature – Dad would take us to see them, fed by the workforce.
Now and again Dad would take us on the new boat – I was mesmerised by the sonar instruments and couldn’t believe the sleeping quarters of the crew – seemed very cramped to me!
Launches were always special. Celebrations were usually held in the Royal Hotel. It was an important occasion to which Mum ensured she had a lovely dress to wear. She was always adept at finding expensive looking clothes for a bargain price so she told us. We too had to be smart and a new dress would be bought for me. Mum would comment on the beautiful jewellery that the Skipper’s wives would wear and we learnt too the weight of worry they carried whilst their courageous families were at sea. Quite emotional and of course extremely proud of my Dad and all at Campbeltown Shipyard I remember, as I watched the celebratory bottle crash against the side of the boat and it slowly gather pace to slip into the water. A tense time for Dad – this boat had to float!! Every time a boat was launched the piper would strike up and I would watch the men on board move with it – I always thought they were extremely brave to be on it at such a tense but joyous time! On one special occasion I was allowed to present the bouquet of flowers to the skipper’s wife after the launch of the boat.
A special event was attending the celebration at the home port of the boat. I remember when we stayed at the Eight Acres in Elgin in preparation for the celebration that night. Graeme, Elaine and Craig Howarth and I began playing with the spongy sofas that were covered in brown corduroy in the hotel’s public area. We were given a row (rightly) by the manager and we re-assembled the parts. A few minutes later Les Howarth passed by and learnt of our actions. About 10 minutes later all of the sofas and chairs were taken into a room by the Manager and we were allowed to play on them as much as we liked!
Billy More was a favourite Skipper who we became very close with. His boat was Defiance (I think). We, in particular, loved his wee dog – a poodle called Scampi – which always made us giggle.
Other fond memories were when Dad came home with his new company car. A special treat one time was when he had a two toned green Ford Cortina and another was a gold Montego. Dad used his car often at the weekends to travel ‘up north’, meeting the skippers about their specifications. He spent many hours away from the family in order to help secure orders for the yard.
In the spirit of recycling, Dad once took us and the car to the waters edge below the slipway to pick old bricks that had been dumped. He used these to build his walls in our garden!
I was extremely proud of my Dad, especially when he became Technical Director. I shared many happy memories of the yard as a result of him.