anyone remember the 56 hour week - Ships Nostalgia
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anyone remember the 56 hour week

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  #1  
Old 26th August 2018, 10:43
tony mullen tony mullen is offline
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anyone remember the 56 hour week

joined Port Wellington 1966 given cup knife and fork and I think condensed milk , an old metal bunk and a 56 hour week plus i days leave for each sunday at sea. they were great days but what a difference when we got through the strike ,a 44 hour week, mostly that meant that those men that couldn't before, could now afford at trip ashore and a good time. full employment for 50,000 seamen in the merchant navy. I would do it all again , the comradeship ,the feeling of being proud to be a seaman , those were the days my friends we thought they would never end.
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  #2  
Old 26th August 2018, 16:08
tom roberts tom roberts is offline  
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Originally Posted by tony mullen View Post
joined Port Wellington 1966 given cup knife and fork and I think condensed milk , an old metal bunk and a 56 hour week plus i days leave for each sunday at sea. they were great days but what a difference when we got through the strike ,a 44 hour week, mostly that meant that those men that couldn't before, could now afford at trip ashore and a good time. full employment for 50,000 seamen in the merchant navy. I would do it all again , the comradeship ,the feeling of being proud to be a seaman , those were the days my friends we thought they would never end.
Remember it well 56hr week for 10 a month, board of trade rations,I shipped out April 1954 two weeks before my16th birthday on a Savages coaster 4on 4 off stuck it 3weeks then shipped out on a B.P. Tanker as deckboy lousy food and bloody awful accommodation freezing in the cold weather and sweating like a pig chipping the rust up the perishing gulf,finished in 1969 on 76 a month 44hr week,but still a dreamer with rose tinted glasses who would do it all again.
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  #3  
Old 26th August 2018, 19:13
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I went to sea in 1948, apprentice at something over 6 pounds per month, left in 1962 as Mate with Master's Certificate. They were good years but I think that I did the right thing when I left the sea.
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Old 26th August 2018, 20:01
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I went to sea in 1958 as a deck boy in Blue Funnel. my working day commenced at 06.00 and finished as soon as I had managed to clear up after the crew had eaten their dinner, usually about 18.00. This was every day in the week, except Sunday when we got 3 hours off in the afternoon for dhobi etc. call it 80 hours per week for the princely sum of 3/6s/8d per week, all found.
Despite what others may say, I very definitely would not do it all again!
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Last edited by Pat Kennedy; 27th August 2018 at 00:26..
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  #5  
Old 26th August 2018, 23:40
tony mullen tony mullen is offline
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good post Tom

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Originally Posted by tom roberts View Post
Remember it well 56hr week for 10 a month, board of trade rations,I shipped out April 1954 two weeks before my16th birthday on a Savages coaster 4on 4 off stuck it 3weeks then shipped out on a B.P. Tanker as deckboy lousy food and bloody awful accommodation freezing in the cold weather and sweating like a pig chipping the rust up the perishing gulf,finished in 1969 on 76 a month 44hr week,but still a dreamer with rose tinted glasses who would do it all again.
good post Tom , good memories and good to talk to someone who knows, I have a mate still at sea that I sailed with back in the day,he said it's so hard to talk to shipmates who only know todays life , so go to talk to anyone from the 60's and all the stories. He said a deck boy on his ship thought a derrick was his dick. I hope the head block works. abit of humour.
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Old 27th August 2018, 02:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
I went to sea in 1958 as a deck boy in Blue Funnel. my working day commenced at 06.00 and finished as soon as I had managed to clear up after the crew had eaten their dinner, usually about 18.00. This was every day in the week, except Sunday when we got 3 hours off in the afternoon for dhobi etc. call it 80 hours per week for the princely sum of 3/6s/8d per week, all found.
Despite what others may say, I very definitely would not do it all again!
Good post Pat, I remember it well, I went 6 years before you but it was the same routine. The only good thing about it was having a week in the PO's mess followed by a week on deck.
You didn't mention inspection every day except Sunday, linen change day.
Regards... Alec.
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Old 27th August 2018, 05:37
Phil Saul Phil Saul is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
I went to sea in 1958 as a deck boy in Blue Funnel. my working day commenced at 06.00 and finished as soon as I had managed to clear up after the crew had eaten their dinner, usually about 18.00. This was every day in the week, except Sunday when we got 3 hours off in the afternoon for dhobi etc. call it 80 hours per week for the princely sum of 3/6s/8d per week, all found.
Despite what others may say, I very definitely would not do it all again!
Hi Pat,

Joined P-boat in '64, official turn-to 06.00 but if you turned-to then, you were chasing your a*se for the rest of the morning, so always earlier.
Worked through to 21.30 with two hours break during the afternoon.
Some of it was overtime but catering boys overtime hourly rate would only buy you a can of Tennants lager.
I'd do it all again as long as they cut out the month each trip as crew peggy. Absolutely the most diabolical job on the effing planet.


Regards Phil
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  #8  
Old 27th August 2018, 12:21
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Working ashore, overtime is paid at time and a half, or double time. At sea the overtime rate was a miserable pittance, less than half the hourly rate if I remember right.
My pay off after my first voyage of three months amounted to less than 25,after deductions for tax and subs. The only ssving grace was the crowd had a whip round in the shipping office for the two deck boys, and we shared an extra 12.
Regards,
Pat
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Old 27th August 2018, 12:55
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Joined Shell Tanker Venassa in late 1965 as a 'Fireman/Greaser.' Just caught the 7 day week as I was at sea aboard her during the strike (was an NUS member at the time.)
Did the Hemisinus and the Vitta after that with a better working week, (and more overtime.)
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Old 27th August 2018, 13:31
Dave McGouldrick Dave McGouldrick is offline
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Slightly off-thread but relevant: Does anyone know of companies who employ Brits as Deck and/or engine crew these days?
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Old 27th August 2018, 13:58
tom roberts tom roberts is offline  
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Working ashore, overtime is paid at time and a half, or double time. At sea the overtime rate was a miserable pittance, less than half the hourly rate if I remember right.
My pay off after my first voyage of three months amounted to less than 25,after deductions for tax and subs. The only ssving grace was the crowd had a whip round in the shipping office for the two deck boys, and we shared an extra 12.
Regards,
Pat
By gosh Pat what a tight bunch you sailed with first trip I ended up with around forty pounds tips but then that was from the firemens mess as well and a couple of engineers as I used to take ice water down the engine room,the only one off the deck who didn't tip me was a miserable scots Canadian,I saw him years later when docking in stanlow on the Hyria he was in the shore gang,the tips were great as I had to send four pounds a month to my mum and out of ten pounds a month before stoppages I had little left pay off day.
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  #12  
Old 27th August 2018, 15:07
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You have to remember Tom that 6 was equivalent to almost 2 weeks wages for a 'peggy", and not to be sneezed at.
Having said that, some of the deck crowd on that Achilles on that voyage, were overbearing bullies. I was punched in the face by one AB for neglecting to wipe clean the top of a bottle of HP sauce.
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  #13  
Old 27th August 2018, 15:44
tom roberts tom roberts is offline  
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You have to remember Tom that 6 was equivalent to almost 2 weeks wages for a 'peggy", and not to be sneezed at.
Having said that, some of the deck crowd on that Achilles on that voyage, were overbearing bullies. I was punched in the face by one AB for neglecting to wipe clean the top of a bottle of HP sauce.
Pat I am glad that Mr Greenwood back heeled me when I was interviewed by him I don't think I would have lasted in Blueys and the bullies ,I went to Aberdovey outward bound and treated the place like a holiday camp and believe me it was after 9 months at the Indefatigable so my report was not up to what Blueys deemed acceptable looking back I thank him for that tho some of the ships I sailed on were not up to Blueys standards I was soon hardened to bullying and tho one pillock of a chief engineer on my first trip deep sea smacked me in the face no one ever got away with bullying me again and being only 5'6 inches tall I I learned to take care of myself.
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  #14  
Old 27th August 2018, 17:01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McGouldrick View Post
Slightly off-thread but relevant: Does anyone know of companies who employ Brits as Deck and/or engine crew these days?
Yes - PNTL still have wholly British crews
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  #15  
Old 27th August 2018, 18:12
Dave McGouldrick Dave McGouldrick is offline
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Good to see someone still flying the flag
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  #16  
Old 27th August 2018, 20:38
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Hi Pat,

Joined P-boat in '64, official turn-to 06.00 but if you turned-to then, you were chasing your a*se for the rest of the morning, so always earlier.
Worked through to 21.30 with two hours break during the afternoon.
Some of it was overtime but catering boys overtime hourly rate would only buy you a can of Tennants lager.
I'd do it all again as long as they cut out the month each trip as crew peggy. Absolutely the most diabolical job on the effing planet.


Regards Phil
Hi Phil,
I used to envy the catering boy on that Achilles, a Wallasey lad named Colin Harald, because he was able to get his head down for a couple of hours in the afternoon, while I had to turn to on deck at 13.00 and work all afternoon at some make-work task like polishing the ship's bell on the focsle, with a wad of cotton waste and a bottle of Roses Lime Juice. Then when 16.00 came, I had to go to the messroom and prepare for crew's dinner.
I hated that job with a passion and I still dont know why I came back for more. Pure stubborn pig-headedness I suppose.
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Old 27th August 2018, 20:50
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Those first couple of years I kind of liked the travelling, and the sunshine, and the foreign ports and so on, (you come from an industrial town in the West Midlands, Cleethorpes is somewhere exotic ) but there's no doubt that most of it was sheer drudgery. It took me a while to figure out that if you're going to work at sea, you need to be a doing a job you enjoy.

So I looked around the ship, and saw the sparks, (a very rare thing on a midships accommodation tanker in those days.) As far as I could tell, he worked about 10 minutes a day, for super money. (Believe me I learned this was a poor assessment in later years. )

So that's where I set my sights.

There's an old saying: "You learn far more from your f**k ups than ever you do from your successes." I learned.

(It's mostly said in jest fellow keybashers . MOSTLY.)
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Old 29th August 2018, 17:47
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When I left school in 1966, I wanted and had the qualifications to join P&O as a navigating cadet. My memory might be a bit corroded now but if I remember right you had to buy books and uniforms including a set of whites and this came to around 200 in those days. The salary was 204 per year. My dad just could not afford the 200 for books and uniforms so it never happened.
Sometimes things work out for the best as in 1977 I got into the oil business which was quite new then and as I progressed over the years from taking X rays and Ultrasonic inspection to being a Company Rep on all sorts of vessels such as Diving vessels ,Pipelay ,Rockdump ,Construction , Heavy Lift crane vessels etc etc . So eventually my wish to be at sea came in a round about way.
Over the 35 years I ‘m sure I earned lots more money than if I had started at sea as was my wish at 16 years old and as a bonus I usually got the owners cabin as the Company Rep although in the early days it was 8 man cabins with a shower and toilet in the middle.
Happy days as it turned out and still managed to visit and work in many different countries.
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Old 29th August 2018, 20:20
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Those first couple of years I kind of liked the travelling, and the sunshine, and the foreign ports and so on, (you come from an industrial town in the West Midlands, Cleethorpes is somewhere exotic ) but there's no doubt that most of it was sheer drudgery. It took me a while to figure out that if you're going to work at sea, you need to be a doing a job you enjoy.

So I looked around the ship, and saw the sparks, (a very rare thing on a midships accommodation tanker in those days.) As far as I could tell, he worked about 10 minutes a day, for super money. (Believe me I learned this was a poor assessment in later years. )

So that's where I set my sights.


There's an old saying: "You learn far more from your f**k ups than ever you do from your successes." I learned.

(It's mostly said in jest fellow keybashers . MOSTLY.)
You could always identify the sparks. He was the 'Go to' man for books and magazines, his desk had heel marks on it, and he was always first man down the gangway on arrival at any port.
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Old 29th August 2018, 21:53
Brian Dobbie Brian Dobbie is offline  
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I was an Engineer and it was always 56hrs because you were always on watch.
Even when unmanned engine rooms came along you were still Duty Engineer, on the bells, for at least two nights per week in addition to daywork, I suppose you might get a half day at the weekend if you were not on the bells.
On my last ship, before retirement, the Engineers still worked 56 hrs per week.
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Old 29th August 2018, 22:17
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You could always identify the sparks. He was the 'Go to' man for books and magazines, his desk had heel marks on it, and he was always first man down the gangway on arrival at any port.
Yes and all the rest of the crew used to say all Sparks were crazy! We knew weren't, for just the reasons given above.
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  #22  
Old 29th August 2018, 22:43
holland25 holland25 is offline  
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We did get found out though,we ain't there any more.
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  #23  
Old 30th August 2018, 09:45
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.. and he was always first man down the gangway on arrival at any port.
I always excused that as: dedicated reconnaissance on behalf of the crew
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Old 30th August 2018, 09:49
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We did get found out though,we ain't there any more.
Towards the end I noticed a lot of disappearances. The lecky disappeared, the fifth engineers disappeared, along came UMS and suddenly there are only four engineers. Cadets disappeared.

I figured I'd get out before the big man with the scythe knocked my door in the middle of the night.
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Old 30th August 2018, 22:22
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Another bloke with a cushy number, in Blueys anyway, was the Lamptrimmer.
He was second in command of the deck crowd after the bosun, but in reality, he was a sort of storekeeper, whose domain was the focsle. He handed out the paint and brushes, scrapers and chipping hammers, and was guardian of the bales of cotton waste and drums of paraffin. Once he had handed out the gear to the lads, he retreated into his lair, pottering round with ropes and whammies, passing the day quietly and peacefully until knocking off time, when the crowd returned the paint etc. Then he would clean the paintbrushes, lock up the focsle and head aft with another long strenuous day under his belt.
His only real bit of action was during mooring operations when he was in command of the crowd on the aft moorings.
A much sought after job, only granted to company stanchions.
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