It wasn't just strikes that brought work to a standstill. Production could be weather dependent; floods, fog and even ice would break the dockers away from their work. The big freeze of 47, deserted the yards. ‘There was no buses, no trains, everything stopped. The Docks was frozen over’ (Victor Pardoe).
Despite the strikes, there was a keen respect for your superiors. Apprentices ‘always addressed tradesmen as “Mister” till told otherwise […] in those days keeping good face was also very very important’ (Len Taphouse). Many apprentices would carry on their careers at Harland and Wolff, or progress onto other shipbuilding firms, some would even join the navy.
When you entered the yard, you wouldn’t see everyone in a uniform as you may do today. Instead, workwear consisted of hand-me-downs. ‘Nothing was new! But their shoe-wear, their shoe wear was immaculate’ (Josephine Ryan).