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John Nichols

John was born on the 18 September 1959 in the village of Earsdon near Whitley Bay.

John’s father worked for the Merchant Navy as a second Electrical Officer on board the Swan Hunter built ship the Dominican Monarch

He left school in 1976 at age of sixteen and entered the Merchant Navy. After leaving the Merchant Navy, John joined NAFFI (Navy Army & Air Force Institute) and ran shops onboard Swan Hunter vessels including HMS ARK ROYAL and HMS COVENTRY.

John was interviewed by Alex Magin on 24 October 2006. The interview took place at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum and lasted for 38 minutes.

John Nichols's Memories

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Can you describe to me what happened at the end of a shift, at the end of the day, you’re talking about how noisy it all was, what was it like at the end of a shift?

Well, it would just, I mean it was quite obviously the morning shift you know.  There would be a night gang obviously working and the sounds you might here a bit of a hammering or a bit of echoed hammering over in far side of the yard.  Of course that would gradually build up as the day shift got going and that was the noise for about eight to twelve hours.  At the end of the evening it would just reverse that procedure.  You would find the cranes would stop running so there’s some generators gone.  The guys with the steam cleaners, the compressed air and that, they would finish, that would be another sound gone.  Gradually it would go to a halt and it would be, there would be a period I think between about five o’clock and six o’clock when most of the guys were going home and they were changing shifts when there was pure silence and it was only for about twenty minutes, half an hour but you could hear the odd, sort of fog horn going whatever going off at the time, some river traffic chugging away in the background, but that was it, it was pure silence.

How did that feel?

Well, it felt like it was the end of the day.  You could mentally wind down as well with that noise actually abating you could actually wind down with the noise winding down as well, so when that little half an hour came of pure silence you would sort of, “aah”, big sigh to yourself, well that’s another day over.  Then of course you would do what you had to do and start again the next morning.