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Hear the Hammers Ring: Shipyard Workers Social and Cultural History

Rónán McGreechin is a Historian, postgraduate researcher and PhD candidate based at the University of Strathclyde.

I am using the Scottish Maritime Museum’s blog today to take the opportunity to introduce myself as well as to write a little about what I will be doing here. For the next three and a half years I will be working very closely with the Scottish Maritime Museum, principally exploring archival material. My work intends to explore the cultural history of the shipyards and shipyard workers, especially literary culture among the workers and in the workplace.

Already I have begun to delve into the expansive archives of the museum. Over the coming months, I will be exploring in great detail the Denny shipyard’s Drawing Office Scrapbook, known as The Arkivz. The Arkivz is truly a tome of great value when it comes to the study of cultural history; featuring, over a long period, everything from personal correspondence and short stories to photographs and humorous sketches. The Arkivz is a piece of immense historical value and offers us a fantastic insight into the cultural lives, and in some cases the individual personalities, of the Denny workers.

The historical context I intend to extract from these archives over the next few years will hopefully serve to enrich and support the already extensive and impressive repertoire of the Scottish Maritime Museum. Furthermore, to continue to provide context and widen the historical background within the museum I will be travelling the country visiting archival resources of relevance to follow the thread of shipyard cultural and literary history as faithfully as possible.

I am very privileged to be working here and so closely with the wonderful, unique and, in some cases, ground-breaking material of the museum. Already the brief research I have carried out has been intensely rewarding and has proffered many interesting avenues of pursuit.

I am very excited to collaborate with the excellent staff and curatorial team here at the Scottish Maritime Museum, as well as with the wonderful volunteers and community the museum works so closely with. All of my work will hopefully serve to bring the community and patrons of the museum closer to the past in a more personal and communal way.

I will leave you with some excellent artwork from The Arkivz, which is perhaps relevant for the time of the year and the recent celebration of Halloween. These two Skeleton figures reflect both the talent and the humour of the Denny workers, two qualities which are abundantly evident throughout the collections of the Scottish Maritime Museum.



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