On Tuesday evening Glasgow University Archives were pleased to host the launch of not one but two books about shipbuilding. The first, Tony Slaven, “British Shipbuilding 1500-2010”, (Lancaster, 2013) has been described as a “masterly” take on the subject. This is not surprising; as Professor Emeritus of Business History at the University of Glasgow shipping has never been far from his mind. At the launch we heard the number of years he has put into the subject which have culminated in this volume.
The second book, Tony Slaven and Hugh Murphy, “Crossing the Bar: An oral history of the British shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engine building industries in the age of decline, 1956-1990”, (St John’s, Newfoundland, 2013), is an important work in documenting this area of history. Although the books certainly complement each other Professor Slaven pointed out that their coming at once was, like the coming of buses, by chance.
Glasgow University Archive Services holds one of the most important collections about shipping in the world and a shipbuilding book launch was the perfect time to put some of the best pieces on show. Among the companies represented in the temporary exhibition were: Ben Line Ship Management, Lithgow’s, John Brown & Co, Alexander Stephen & Sons and Yarrow. Photo albums showed sailing ships and aerial views of the yards they came from. Plans showed the bowels of vessels, tightly packed with machinery. UCS Work-In memorabilia and employee magazines gave us an idea of the people who behind it all. This display demonstrated the breadth of the records held here, which can really give a complete idea of this industry.
The launch was also a chance for people to see the exhibition case, currently in our Reception displaying items relating to ship launches. The archive holds records relating to some famous ships, such as the Queen Mary and the Lusitania. The former had a particularly impressive launch; the Clyde had to be widened to accommodate the largest ship ever built on the river at that time. The Ballast Trust has loaned some items for the display, one of which is a wooden bottle used to check that a real bottle would swing when it was smashed at the launch.
If you would like to see anything relating to shipping and shipbuilding on the Clyde there are several different source guides to look at:
- Ship Building, Ship Repair and Allied Industries
- Ship Passenger Lists
- Shipping Companies
- Ships Built on the River Clyde
Categories: Archive Services