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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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Where there any particular smells or sounds that you associate with Swan Hunter?

Swan Hunters? I think the best time was sort of, if you went in the, sort of late on night, say around about 9 o’clock, when really the surrounding area was quiet and there was always the sound of compressed air and the noise for the sheds where they were working on sheet metal and things like that and then of course on the ship there was always the crackling and flashing of arc welding and the other thing I think that when you look at Swans and you se those cranes you always remember the warning bells that, well the sirens that used to go when the crane was actually moving because it was quite easy – with the surrounding noise that you never heard the crane coming towards you! I think that’s really the sort of main background noises that you heard. I mean there was always corking going on and drilling, the odd banging and clanking there used to be the – if you were down on the jetty when they were testing the high point on a ship, the creaking of the ropes and the rubbers against the jetty when the ship was being pulled over. It’s just you hear relative noises and straight away your mind thinks shipyard! I think that’s really all there is on noises. I mean there was always planting equipment running around, mobile cranes and wagons and I think we used to have a couple of tractors down there – that’s another story, but I’m not saying anything about that!