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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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I think basically it’s the comradeship that you get, especially among men when you work in environmental conditions and y’know it’s the hardship and the wet, the noise and the smells and fumes and wherever you sort of get this kind of thing – I used to find this at sea – people tend to become very close to each other and helpful, which I don’t think seems to exist all that much today and sort of the modern replacement for the ship yards which is mainly call centres and what have you. I mean there was always dos going on I mean I think drink was one of the main stays of people then. Cultures changed, people don’t seem to do that kind of thing so much now I mean from what I believe I mean I never ever did it, but some people never handed their pay packet over – the majority of it was spent on drink, cigarettes and that kind of thing and then there was always different clubs, there was motoring clubs and cycling clubs and personally speaking for myself I teamed up with the rigging manager who used to be ?? and he unfortunately died about 2 and half year ago, one of my best friends actually.  That was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in the last few year, was stand at his funeral and speak about him, but I got through that. We used to fly radio controlled aircrafts and we just had an interest in it since we were young lads y’know and took it from there. Then there was nicknames for people and there was the odd practical joke sort of played, like if someone went out the workshop they’d take the hacksaw blade out of the hacksaw and put it the wrong way around, so naturally a hacksaw only cuts in the forward motion and they’d be thinking ‘oh whats the matter with this hacksaw?’ (laughs) took them a while to twig that the blade was in the wrong way round!  I mean I always remember there were apprentices being sent to the stores for the likes of tins of elbow grease, y’know, which when you think about it now is bloody ridiculous! Or for a long stand!