Davie Torrance Interview
Davie Torrance was born in Haghill in the east end of Glasgow and grew up in Dalmarnock and Cranhill. He started as an apprentice draughtsman in Barclay Curle’s when he was fifteen, where he became a shop steward when he was eighteen. Davie then served two years national service from 1960-62. He returned to Barclay Curle which closed, then he moved on to Alexander Stephen’s, but anticipating closure he left to start in Fairfields in 1968. He worked in the drawing office until his retirement in 2002.
The audio and transcript below contain an extract of an interview with Davie Torrance taken from a collection of 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.
Davie Torrance himself selected the audio extract below.
Audio Extract Transcript
First day they…well obviously the boys, er…the boys were working-in. And then by the time…we didna start ’til after the manual workers, so when we come in, they were walking aboot like, what’s happening nou, you know.
So aw the guys said, what…what…what’s going on? I says, terrible and I'm going doun to see…I got haud o Airlie and he had…Jimmy Reid was in the office and I…I says, well I'm going to call a meeting o aw the draughtsmen at eleven o’clock at…
Right. We’ll come up. So they come up and spoke.
So oor guys voted unanimously to…
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
…support the position.
So then yous were working-in too.
Aye. That’s when you…that’s a classic…
You go in and see your draught…your heid kiltie, Mister Ross. Mister Ross, do you know the shop stewards have taken over the yard? Yes. I says, well you know what the story is. You will still be the chief draughtsman. And you’ll carry oot this amount o work and aw that. But if your decision goes against what the shop stewards are daein, it’s the shop stewards decision that’ll carry. Okay. Bit gaffer you’re saying that tae. Think aboot that.
[Laugh]. How many people’ll be…say they’ve done that?
He says well the liquidators told me I’ve got to pay so many draughtsmen aff.
I says, well we…we’ve nae problem wi that, because they’ll just come in to the work-in.
He says, right, but half your committee’ll need to go. You tell me who you’re paying aff. [Laugh].
Touché. [Laugh]. I says, well canna pay myself off, can I.
So Jimmy and Joe, the other two communists, says, they’ll go in to the work-in, okay?
And they said, people will …
Stay wi us.
…stay…he says, that’s fair enough [laugh].
No really, no [laugh].
[Laugh]. It’s in…it’s interesting dynamic, but, isn’t it.
Aye, I mean…
And how long did it last for then? It was the whole summer, wasn’t it.
Oh no, it was…. [Laugh].
Oh was it…it was longer than that…
[Cough]. August the following year.
I'm just …. I'm…I'm…excuse me.
And what were the…what were those circumstances like to work in? Were you…were you just doing what you would normally do [voices overlap].
Well the truth…the truth o the matter, the work-in boys coudna work because o…they coudna go in the ships ’cause they warna covered by insurance or anything like that.
And the…the…what we did wi the draughtsmen was put them in to the…the work-in wages department…
…to help count monies, what they’re aff …
And me and Cockie…
’Cause you’re getting donations…donations fae aw over the place…
Aye, oh millions of pounds I think. I…I’ve…I’ve never…
…as the fifty…
…know…but anyway. And, er, we formed a…er, we formed different committees. So we…me and Cockie were in the [bursary] committee.
And a couple o other draughts…draughtsmen come on wi us a well. But…
So you dealt wi the press and…
Uhm-hmm. Uhm-hmm. And so what was it like?
It was just another…I mean, this…the…this happened, if you get what I mean, you know…
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
…and then things happening. You had to change the way you were daein things and…
And did you have all sorts of famous people coming in the yard and…?
I suppose we did at the time, aye. Aye.
Um, famously John Lennon sending flowers and…
Aye, well…ah but the…the shop stewards…the coordinating committee met in John Brown’s canteen every morning. That was the…the classic story, you know, the…
So you had to go over tae Clydebank every day.
Aye. We’d…we…at Clydebank, aye. That was a classic story. Oh dearie me. Excuse me…this…so I suppose … This wi John Lennon and you aw go, who’s John Lennon? I know one John Lennon…
Now who’s the other one [laugh].
I know one Lenin, sorry, who’s the other one [laugh].