Traveller's tales

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Glasgow - second city of the Empire

Having once worked in 'the clanging workshops of Lancashire', where we made pieces of machinery, which when assembled, we were unable to lift, I mourn the passing of the source of Glasgow's former fame as 'the second city of the Empire'.

It is probably difficult for a person who has never set foot in an engineering workshop to appreciate what I am talking about. Machine shops in my day were full of mirth, vulgarity and rollockings, and they were full of men and women who had clearly defined roles, who knew what they had to do that day, knew how it had to be done, and did it with some pride.

Employment locates a person in society - you might say it is the basis for class distinction, I prefer to think of it merely as an illustration of that.

The appeal of mechanical engineering to me, back in the days when I cycled to work through rain and snow, when I cursed my lot in life sometimes, was that I was creating something.

The city of Glasgow, with its great shipyards at Clydebank and elsewhere along the banks of the River Clyde, prided itself on making, on creating, and it is that that is lost to all of us who once earned our living cutting metal.

Robert Leslie Fielding

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