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  • I am just 'young' enough to remember the great days of shipbuilding in my home city of Glasgow, in Scotland. It used to be that the title "Clyde built" was a mark of extremely good workmanship. It was suggested that if the Titanic had been Clyde built, it would have made short work of that Iceberg, such was the pride and confidence in the ships built there!!

    There were several shipyards along the length of the river Clyde, all owned by different private ship building companies and I can just remember the noise of the steam hammers and drills that came out of them. I can also remember the whistle blowing to mark the end of the shift and the gates opening to allow what looked like thousands of men to come streaming out in their rush to get to the pub or home.

    The launch of a ship was something extraordinary and people came to the clyde to watch the great liners take their first hesitant "step's" in the water, before sailing all over the world. These huge towering hulks of steel didn't seem as if they should be able to float never mind sail the ocean wide, but they did.

    The shipyard workers were a tough bunch and it was an introduction to life, never mind a trade, for the apprentices who fearfully took their place amongst the time served men. One of Glasgow's own stand up comedian/ folk singers started out there too - Billy Connolly, (known locally as the 'Big Yin'), who was later to star in "Head of the Class" on American television and become a castle owner in Scotland. He attributes his success to his foundation gained in the bowels of the ships on the clyde - and I guarantee he could tell you some stories!

    Sadly, there are few trades left and even less of the shipyards, save for a few dry docks, overgrown with weeds and mainly haunted by drug addicts and alcoholics now. Some of the area has been given over to modern housing stock and commercial eneterprises too.

    In its 'wisdom' the UK government decided that it would be much easier (and cheaper!) to sell off the shipbuilding industry and move it abroad, regardless of the devastating effect it would have on the city and its inhabitants. This move was part of a deeper agenda to eradicate the spirit of the "Red Clydeside" once and for all but, that's another story for another time.

    I never had 'sea legs', (I got seasick going down the river in the famous 'Waverley' paddle steamer ferry), but the memory of the shibuilding tradition in Glasgow and the stalwart, tough individuals who made it all possible, deserves some tribute.

    This is my salute to the memory of those who once made Glasgow great. They were not all in the ship yards and although it's true they may be gone, their Spirit still lives on inside us.
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