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Fred Tate

Fred was born in Hebburn, County Durham on 20 October 1926. He grew up in Wallsend because his father came across to work as a pitman in the G-Pit at Swan Hunter. The family lived in Laurel Street, Wallsend.

After leaving school at fourteen in 1940, Fred got a job at Swan Hunter as an office boy. He stayed there until he was twenty-one and then went to sea with the Merchant Navy. After a year at sea he worked at Parsons Marine for eight years. After that, Fred went to Wallsend Slipway Company which had been taken over by Swan Hunter. Fred worked at Swan Hunter until 1985 when he took redundancy and retired.

Fred talks about his experiences at Swan Hunter and living in Wallsend during the Second World War.

Fred was interviewed by Alex Magin on 23 February 2007. The interview took place at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum and lasted for 46 minutes.

Fred Tate's Memories

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The worst sound of the lot, for me was when I was in the office – right infront of the office they used to put the armour plating for the battleship and I’m guessing the thickness now of approximately 3 inches, I don’t know for sure I’ll say 3 inches and this old chap – I can still picture him yet – and he used to use a cork in the windy machine and you used to call that scarfing – I dunno where that term came from!  But he used to be cutting away at the metal to get at an angle, so he could butt – butt the butt. And he didn’t hear that noise as much as what we did  because noise travels away from you! So when I was apprentice fitter, when wewere doing the optimum davits you used to have to do a very similar type of job, but not on armour plating – on what we call box beams and I used to volunteer to do the thing because the simple reason – the ones round about were getting all the noise and I was on….but that was the noise I can always recall! This old chap – I can picture him – hair cropped short, and that and stocky and he used to work away content, hour after hour, just cutting away and it used to ring like a bell – the noise was and of course just outside the door was drilling machines, so you had the noise of that!