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Lance Hopper

Lance was born in Bristol at the beginning of World War II, 1939. At the start of the war his family moved up to the North East and he lived with his grandparents at East Howdon.

Lance left school at the age of fifteen in 1954 and then started as an apprentice at the Wallsend slipway. During his first year he worked as an office boy, and then served a five-year apprenticeship. After his apprenticeship he worked for two years at Swan and then left to work at George Angus where he was there for twelve years. He returned to Swan’s as an inspector and eventually became a Senior Commissioning Manager.

Lance was interviewed by Laura Brown on 12 February 2007. The interview took place at Discovery Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and lasted for 30 minutes.

Lance Hopper's Memories

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When my wife became pregnant I stopped going to sea and I was seeking employment ashore and that’s when I first started with Swan hunter, my first involvement really with Swan Hunter.

What did that job involve?

That was mainly involved in testing steam systems; high pressure systems oil systems, basically set in the main machinery spaces. It involved long hours; I used to go to work with a great big packed lunch! There’s not really much more you can say about it, apart from long hours and I used to enjoy it. It’s rather difficult when your having to work long hours and your trying to pull a house together and one thing or another.

And how long did you do that job for?

I was there for about 2 year, at the time, then there was always industrial problems – there was strikes for the least thing and at the time, I mean I had a mortgage and I child by then and I just couldn’t afford to go on like that! So I got out of Swans altogether and went to work for George Angus, which later became Dunlops on the Coast Road. I would be there for about 12 year I would think. Working in a factory is actually soul destroying compared with proper engineering and I just had to make a move back into the type of work I wanted, so I went back to Swans! I went in as an inspector, at first inspecting all the machinery equipment, pipe work systems. Basically working the drawings and making sure everything’s installed correctly and meets all the ministry standards that were required on the contract. Later on I became an assistant manager and then a manager on the ships side and then in the latter days a senior commissioner manager, which involved taking over the whole lot. So you never knew when you were coming home on a job – it was really, basically 24hours a day! I mean you would wake up at half past 2 in the morning thinking oh yeah I’ve solved that problem, or your plannin’ your day ahead for the next day and that’s the way it used to go on just day after day after day!