In 1963, after completing my apprenticeship as an electrician at the local steel works, I became a merchant seaman when I joined Shaw Savill and Albion line.On boarding my first ship it was a culture shock when I was taken into the engine room. There was a lot of names and phrases to pick up that were totally new, it was like a new language.
The Chief Engineer would split the watches into two, normally working six hours on and six hours off.
The electricians changed onto these rotas and worked alongside the engineers. We didn't get much sleep in the six hour break period.
Video transcript During my days at secondary school my best friend's father worked on the docks at Hartlepool. Often, after school, David and I toured the docks on our bicycles.
When David's father was on duty we would call in his control cabin for a cup of tea and view the impressive passing ships.
Our time in port was spent maintaining the engine room equipment, which had been running for twenty-four hours a day and often for many weeks non-stop.
At sea the engineers worked a three watch system made up of four hours on and eight hours off. Occassionally at sea, major engine breakdowns occurred.
After crossing the Atlantic Ocean we discharged at four continental ports and the UK. At sea, like many others, I had a Daily Express map of the world on my cabin bulk head.
Checking progress around the world improved my geographic knowledge.
The massive main engines and the complex amount of auxilary equipment with numerous piping systems was an amazing sight. Shaw Savill and Albion line had a mixture of passenger and cargo ships.