Tyne & Wear Museums homepage

Contact us

Andy Masterman

Andy was born in Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1930 and he grew up in Wallsend. He went to school in Wallsend and left when he was fourteen years old in 1945. Andy first worked at Parsons and joined Swan Hunter in April 1947 when he was seventeen years old. His training lasted for five years and at twenty-two years old he became a qualified plumber. Later on in his career he became a foreman and later an area manager and then Senior Area Manager. Andy worked at Swan Hunter for forty-six years until 1992.

Andy was interviewed by Laura Brown on 2 March 2007. The interview took place at the participants home and lasted for 54 minutes.

Andy Masterman's Memories

In order to view this file you need to use the flash player.

Transcript

A ship’s like a hotel.  You start off at the bottom of the ship and do all the pipes work for the tank suctions and scuppers and drains.  Then you work in the accommodation and the accommodation is like a hotel – cabins have showers in them, toilets in them.  Them days they had salt water in them so you didn’t use all the fresh water.  You used the salt water for all the toilets and the baths.  That’s all changed now, its all freshwater they use now.

What other sorts of things did you do?
It was lead work when I first started – you learned how to do lead which was quite good.  In ship building, especially when they were all the same, if you were a Catholic you could become a fitter.  To be a plumber you had to be a Protestant.

Why was that?
Because, the head foreman was that way inclined.  And it was like that through the whole industry in the rivers in them days.  It was always about who was who.  And the chap who I took over from eventually, I could never understand why the people who came into the yard and were given good jobs.  Where the men who had worked like the likes of me all their life never got any good jobs.  Then I found out the men who he brought in were from the south side and he was born in Jarrow.  So he had a soft spot for people on the South side but I stopped that.  I believe people should be given the job if they're capable, I don’t care who, what colour they are, what creed they or who they are and that’s what I done when I took over.