Brian Glen Interview

 

Brian (second from the left) and Alan (fourth from the left) in 1971

 
 

Brian Glen, who was born and grew up in the Gorbals, also started in Fairfields in 1971, but he chose to be a plater. He worked in Fairfields until 1980 when he left for a job at a foundry in East Kilbride where he had moved to with his young family. Brian returned to shipbuilding in 1982 when he worked over the river in Yarrows until 1991 and then from 1995-1999. Yarrows and Fairfields merged in 1999 under BAE systems and Brian continued working as a plater until he gained a position in Quality Control in 2008. Sadly Brian passed away in December 2019.

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 Brian Glen 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.

Brian Glen himself selected the audio extract below.

 

Audio Extract     (4m 38s)

 

Audio Extract Transcript

Valerie:    

And what was it like then, once you became a time-served man, once you were out, that was you?

Brian:    

Aye. Aye, it was pretty much the same. I think that’s when you really dae start learning, you know; I better buck up here.

Valerie:    

[Laughs].

Brian:    

You know, I’m oan my own here noo…

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian:    
 

…um, and just learn…ah kinda learned all the [pause], eh, the aspects o’ my trade; being on the ship, being in the shed, being in the prefabrication, and they, in…in they days, and your dad would be able to tell you, I just wanted to be as good a tradesman as I could be, and maist o’ the boys were like that.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

You had your wan or two scallywags as I said, but maist o’ the boys wanted to be as good. I don’t know if it’s the same nooadays.

Valerie:    

Aye, you wanted to be, you know, the best plater you could be…

Brian:    

Aye.

Valerie:    

To…I…I guess as proof that you had made the best education…

Brian:    

Aye.

Valerie:    

…that everyone had given you.

Brian:    

Yep, yep, and we went to college, we all goat wur City and Guilds and a’ that…

Valerie:    

Mmhh.

Brian:    

…you know, um; I wanted tae dae that.

Valerie:    

You wanted to be known as a good plater.

Brian:    

Yes, a reputation and that, you know, um, and I’d say a’ the guys that we served, they wur a’ pretty much o’ that mind, you know. Um, I don’t know if the same’s said for today.

Valerie:    

[Laughs].

Brian:    

There a lot of distractions fur young ones noo; phones and a’ that…

Valerie:    

Yeah, we never had them.

Brian:    

…an’ I’m no being auld when I say that but…

Valerie:    

[Laughs]. I know what you mean.

Brian:    

…you know, um…

Valerie:    

On the bus everybody’s…

Brian:    

Aye, but there’s a lot to be said. [Pause]. I mean I took this job…this was the first job gand fur and ah goat it…

Valerie:    

Mmhh.

Brian:    

…and ah wish I’d done it years ago…

Valerie:    

Mmhh.

Brian:    

…because as I say, my kinda ambition was just to be as good a tradesman as ah could be…

Valerie:    

Could be.

Brian:    
 
 
 

…and, eh, it was actually wan day I was in a right downer and wan o’ the guys – I was in Scotstoun – one o’ the guys says, you know, Brian, there’ll lookin fur a QC; why don’t you – this is eleven years ago or something – why don’t you put in for it? You’ve got all the experience in your things. I said, ach, I don’t know. They’ll be wanting the young bucks, noo, ye know. He says, naw, I think they’ve had their fingers burnt with like young guys because no’ coming to work and stuff like that.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

And funny, mah – touchwood, I’ve never been ill really an’ mah timekeeping has been impeccable. That was the way I was brought up. I mean I was never aff school or onything.

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian:    

My mum and dad didnae…you had tae be doon wi’ the flu…

Valerie:    

Really ill, yeah.

Brian:    

…or whatever. But, um, so I just…I had a helluva job that day and went, ah think ah will. So I’d be whit, fifty then.

Valerie:    

Mmhh.

Brian:    

Forty-eight, fifty. Anyway, so I put in for it and then, but I never thought anything and then by luck I went, oh, I’ve got an interview. I said, I’ve done well there…

Valerie:    

[Laughs].

Brian:    

…you know, I’ve goat an interview anyway. So I goat the interview, but do you ever go into somewhere and you say…you go oot and you go, ah, I wish I’d said this…

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian:    

…wish I’d brought that up, that’s no’… So see when ah came oot I went, I couldnae o’ done any mair than that.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

I thought, ah’ve said everything I wanted tae say in there. If ah don’t get it ah’ve nothing to reproach ma’…

Valerie:    

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brian:    

…I cannae go, ah shoulda telt them this, and I goat the job which I was delighted aboot. It was…it was better than swinging a hammer, do you get what I mean?

Valerie:    

Mmhh.

Brian:    

And it’s, eh, it’s goat it’s good days and bad days as well, but you’re dressed, you’re no’ boggin and you’re no’…

Valerie:    

[Laughs].

Brian:    

…you know what I mean, it’s…

Valerie:    

You like it. [Voices overlap 0:38:32] compared to…

Brian:    
 

Aye, you know, ah’ve came right intae it and ah like the joab. It comes wae its responsibilities because [pause], um, it’s the same, eh…say a welder’s doing a job, right, and I pass that, that responsibility then becomes mine, no’ the welder’s.

Valerie:    

Yeah, because you’ve…

Brian:    

Do you get what I’m saying?

Valerie:    

You’ve signed off on it.

Brian:    

I’ve sanctioned it, I’ve signed it off, so any joab like that, so I’m basically taking the responsibility o’ all these guys once I sign it off, you know?

Valerie:    

But you, I mean you would think in a job like quality you’d need that experience.

Brian:    

Oh, aye, well…

Valerie:    

You need tae understand how it’s done…

Brian:    

Well I always…

Valerie:    

…and have done it yourself.

Brian:    

…I always said, and they’ve no’ done it noo. They’ve goat young guys in the bit. I widnae take a guy oan in quality unless he was aboot thirty.

Valerie:    

Yeah [voices overlap 0:39:12].

Brian:    

Maybe twenty-five tae thirty. No’ a young boy his times just oot and you only dae three years. Now I think you’ve…

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

…there’s a lot to be said for experience…

Valerie:    

Oh, yeah.

Brian:    

…and there’s a lot to be said fae [pause] a classroom tae intae the real thing…

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

…you know. I mean on a cadcam and a’ that, if you look at a ship getting built, it’s a dawdle; wan unit joins a…that comes in and it just joins.

Valerie:    

It’s not like that in real life, yeah.

Brian:    

No. Everything needs to…and that disnae, that rib disnae, if that’s goat tae be sweetened in that’s, there’s a lot o’ work tae be daein once it gets to that point, you know.

Valerie:    

Yeah.

Brian:    

But I mean the technology is fantastic; it’s making things easier but, eh, you still need…

Valerie:    

There’s still the…the practical of it, yeah.

Brian:    

…ye…you still need the guys. You need the skill on the floor…

Valerie:    

Mmhh. Um…

Brian:    

…without a doubt, you know.

 

Other Interviewees

Davie Torrance
Alan Glover
Alex Wright
Brian Glen
Benny McGoogan
Tam Brady
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