Alan Glover Interview

 

Alan, his dad Jimmy and his uncle George, all welders at Fairfield c. 1981 © A. Glover

 
 

Alan Glover started in Fairfields in 1971 as an apprentice welder. Alan was born in Govan, though his family moved to Cumbernauld when he was nine years old. His father was a welder in the yard and so was his uncle George. He became a welding inspector in 1984 and left the yard to work in the Ministry of Defence in 1989.

All of the extracts which appear here are taken from oral history life narrative interviews which were conducted by Valerie Wright in 2017 as part of the Leverhulme funded project ‘Employment, Politics and Culture in Scotland 1955-2015’ (RPG-2016-283) based in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow.

In each case the individual named selected the extract that appears on this site.

On the right are links to the audio and corresponding transcripts of the shipyard workers who were interviewed, they are listed in chronological order of when each individual started in Fairfield.

The audio and transcript below contain an extract of an interview with Alan Glover taken from a collection of oral history life narrative interviews which were conducted in 2017 as part of the Leverhulme funded project ‘Employment, Politics and Culture in Scotland 1955-2015’ (RPG-2016-283) based in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow.

Alan Glover himself selected the audio extract below.

 

Audio Extract     (4m 11s)

 

Audio Extract Transcript

Valerie:    

But I mean, I was gonna say, you started in seventy one.

Alan:    

Yeah.

Valerie:    

And that was a big year, erm, in Fairfields.

Alan:    

Oh, yeah. The Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, the working was still going on, when we started our time. And we done…

Valerie:    

And do you, do you remember much about that, what it was, what it was like?

Alan:    
 
 
 
 
 

Yeah, because my father, my father worked in the Linthouse yard. And I remember my dad going down with the big demonstration, with Jimmy Airlie, Jimmy Reid. And there was trains, there were actually trains chartered, that left Glasgow Central Station, with pipers, it was on the news, et cetera. And I remember my dad telling me that, erm, Tony Benn, the Labour MP, he was very supportive of the, the campaign. And, erm, they were all marching down towards Downing Street, and there was agitators there, they were getting hussled, and shoved, et cetera. And Tony Benn, and Jimmy Reid, and that, says, keep the order, lads, keep the order. And they kept the order.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

And my dad said, as we rounded round to Downing Street, there was about twenty black mariahs, big police vans. Because that's what they're hoping for…

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

…they're hoping for people to riot, create disorder, then they can point the finger and say, look at these working class scum, right.

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah.

Alan:    
 

And they're not working class scum. And again, if it wasn't for the likes of…I don't, I'm gonna be honest with you. For example, the UCS work-in, I don't think it was the politicians that, erm, saved that, the shipbuilding, it was the men.

Valerie:    

Uh-huh.

Alan:    

It was the men. And it was the men that not only led it, but the men believed in the fight. And I've got nothing but, erm…I'm getting emotional.

Valerie:    

[Laughing].

Alan:    

I've got nothing but, erm, total admiration for them.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

Because they, they're fighters, they're fighters. And we were only young boys, we werenae really aware of it, right.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

But that goes back to what I said earlier on. A lot of us became, maybe quite politicised, because of these people. Which I think is a great thing.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

Because, erm, if you can understand politics, and you can understand what's going on in the big world, you don't let people con you as much, and…

Valerie:    

I mean, and is that how you felt, like, as you say, you were young, you didn't really understand it. But that was the tradition that you were, you were going into.

Alan:    

No, I did understand it, a wee bit, because my dad was always, erm…

Valerie:    

As you say, he'd went down to London to march.

Alan:    

My dad had been a shop steward at one time in his life. And, erm, my dad was very for the working man, right.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

As I say, my dad was a welder. We, we lived in a room and kitchen in Govan. My brother and I, I mean, right up until we left Govan, my brother was thirteen, and I was nine, and we shared the same bed.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

And my mum and dad in the other room. It was an outside toilet.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

As a wee boy, I was terrified to go down the stairs at night, because I was scared of the dark. I tell my kids that, and they think I was living in some Victorian era, you know, from a Charles Dickens novel, you know.

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah. It's not…

Alan:    

But, erm, you know, and again, this is where, when I see what's going on now, and I look at what happened. For example, Ravenscraig, it was the most productive steelwork in the whole of the UK…

Valerie:    

Uh-huh.

Alan:    

…right.

Valerie:    

Uh-huh.

Alan:    
 
 

If I look at, erm, Rosyth, they, they transferred the work to Devonport. Devonport didnae have a nuclear licence. And again, I'm sorry to say this, I don't want to sound like a rabid, erm, independence man. But as my dad used to say, if there's two jam factories, there's one in Dundee, and there's one down in Birmingham, the Dundee one will shut.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    
 
 

And to a degree, to a degree, that's what happened. Latterly, I was talking to a friend of mine that's still in the shipyard, and the BAE Systems, the frigates, I think it was, some of them were getting built down in Portsmouth. And they made such a mess of them, once they were semi completed, they towed them up to the Clyde, and they were finished off up there.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    
 

And this is what worries me the now, erm, with the current Tory Government, because you've got Sir Michael Fallon, who's the Defence Secretary, and to my knowledge, is the MP for Portsmouth. And I'll go back to the vow, this eighteen frigates were promised, promised for the Clyde. Then it went down to eight.

Valerie:    

Uh-huh.

Alan:    

I think, currently, we're down to four. And even at that, some of the module…the modules, were probably built. And I've no doubt, watch this space…

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

…they'll probably getting built down in Portsmouth. Whereas, as far as I'm concerned, I am not anti English, by the way…

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah.

Alan:    

…but the best shipyard workers are on the Clyde…

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Alan:    

…and they're still there, thank god.

 

Other Interviewees

Davie Torrance
Alan Glover
Alex Wright
Brian Glen
Benny McGoogan
Tam Brady
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Between the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the heyday of shipbuilding on the Clyde, Govan was at the centre of the industry.

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