Monday, June 24, 2013

" Gourock Rope Works "

Early 1950's " Gourock Rope Works "
I worked for Mitchell's Plumber's corner West Stewart St. & Nicholson St. I was store-boy, from 15 to 16 years old,then I was trandfered to the houseing department about 100 yards down the road next to Thornton's the Paint Shop,
The manager was a man called Hugh Ritchy, 3 tradesmaen or as we called them Journymen, fully qualified Plumber's, there was Norrie Brown, Dan Gillian, and Bobbie Miller, the 3 apprentices were myself, Ian Gorry and Ian MacGill, each journyman was responsible for their App. in becoming a plumber, we had night school 2 nights a week, 1 day at the James Watt Collage, God help us if we missed a day or night, when my mates went dancing mid-week, up the Shepherds Hall, I was at night School
We used to go into work at 7:50am for 8:00am start and were given our work for the day, now when the " Gourock Ropework Work " was given to Norrie Brown, who was responsible for me, I froze, the blood would drain from my face, and I would shake with fear, and I had every right to be frightened cause the story that was given to us youngsters as a warning, " Never be alone at the " Gourock Rope Works " the girls up there love to get hold of young apprentices, they drag you into a room, take your trousers down, put your "Willy" into the neck of a milk bottle, and make you excited, so when your " Willy " swelled it got stuck in the neck of the glass milk bottle, and as the presure was on your " Willy " it wouldn't go down, we were told, we had to go home with this milk bottle stuck to us, when home, we were told to bathe our feet in cold water, so our " Willy " would reduce, allowing us to get rid of the bottle, now what made matters even more terrifying, unknown to us was that the girls of both, Broomhill & the Port, rope works knew of this story, but never let on to us youngsters, but a group of 4/6 would point at you and laugh, " Your Next " I was terrified, it never happened to me, nor to the other two apprentices, nor anyone I know, but I was dumb enough to believe it at the time, and the girls at the works didn't help,

Now Mr Ritchie was given 1d,2d, or 3p tickets which were supposed to be given to us to go to these jobs all over Greenock & The Port, but we never got them, when we asked for them, he would say " Are you crippled, get to work, walk ", the walk to the Gourock Rope Works at Broomhill or the Port, by the time I got there, thinking what could be in store for me, by the time I got there I was a total wreck
You could always tell an apprentice plumber in those days, the journeyman's tool bag was made of canvas, about 30 inches long, you wrapped his tools in it, tied the petrol blow lamp to it, your water key, which was a T-Bar about 5 feet long, and was balanced on your left shoulder, never your right, always your left, we didn't use copper pipe then,so we always carried 5 feet of half inch lead pipe, the journeymen never carried nothing
When I became a Plumber and I had an Apprentice, guess what :- Now listen son, we are going to the " Gourock Rope Works " now, never be alone, these lassies that work here.......and so on


  1. Just discovered your blog, Billy, and am enjoying reading through it. A lot of it is before my time (I was born in a house in 26 Poplar Street in the early sixties) but lots of things carried on, like pap.
    I really liked the milk bottle anecdote. Freudian!
    Keep up the good work ...