WHILE clearing out her late father’s home, Rachel Willis discovered a yellowing, slightly tattered piece of paper, lovingly preserved in his belongings.

Written on it was a shipbuilder’s poem but with no title and no author, Rachel is at a loss to know the story behind it – so she has turned to Thanks for the Memories readers for help.

“My dad, David Ferguson, used to work in the accounts office at Fairfield’s Shipbuilders in Govan in the 1940s,” she explains.

“In the corner of the sheet of paper, it mentions ‘ship number 672 in December 1942’ and it seems to have been written by a shipbuilder, or maybe a local poet. I would love to find out more about this poem and its author. I’m sure it was not my dad. I wonder if any Glasgow Times readers know anything about it?”

Glasgow Times:

David Ferguson was born in 1924 in Vernon Street, Maryhill, where he lived with brothers Joe and Bill and sisters Betty, Nan and Cathy.

From December 1946 until January 1948, David worked as an accounts clerk at Fairfield’s Govan’s famous shipyard, and Rachel presumes it was during that spell he acquired the shipbuilder’s poem.

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It starts: “A launch has taken place today/The ship DO has been transformed/And with the old pre-war display/Of draperies has been adorned.”

The tone becomes angry, however, as it continues: “Who pays, you ask, for all this spread/It is the workers who’ve been bled/Please don’t forget the profits clear/Were ninety seven thou this year. So we provide the usual show/ For Lord and Lady so-and-so/The Dukes and Earls and Sirs and Knights/And all the other parasites…”

Glasgow Times:

It ends in disgust: “You might ask why we make a song/But we feel there’s something wrong/When we see the same old bunch/Attending every shipyard lunch. The workers are the ones who feel/Some REAL pride in this ship of steel/They are the ones who should be taking a part in all this celebration/But after four years of toil and sweat/A view of the launch is all they get.”

Glasgow Times:

David left Fairfield’s and Scotland for England to look for work in January 1948.

“He met my mum, Alice Gawthorpe, in Coventry, where he had gained employment as a car body inspector and they married in 1955 and had me, my sister Ruth and brother Andrew,” says Rachel. “My mum passed away in 2011 and Dad died, age 94, in November. I came across the shipbuilder’s poem as I was clearing out his house.”

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She adds: “Dad did speak to me briefly of his time working at Fairfield’s but there was never any mention of the poem.

“Although he was an able writer he has never written any poems and I feel certain he did not pen this particular creation, especially as it was written about the launch of a ship in Dec 1942, which was four years prior to my dad starting work at Fairfield’s.

Glasgow Times:

“But I am really intrigued and wonder – who did feel so aggrieved about this to write a poem about it?”

Do you know who wrote the shipbuilder’s poem? Did you know David and his family in Glasgow? Perhaps you or your relatives have your own stories of Fairfield’s and the other great shipyards of Glasgow? Share your memories and photos by emailing ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.