The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Shipbuilding Trades

This is where we shall introduce you to some of the many trades and professions required to build a ship, some now no longer with us and some still very relevant.

A long list this will be, and you may also be surprised at some of the trade names that we hear people say they are surprised to learn that the name has been around for hundreds of years and originated in shipbuilding. We will also feature some of the tools used in the trades.


The Shipwrights Adze.
A tool that took real skill to use failure to use correctly could result in the loss of a leg.


No he is not waving at the camera but directing the lift of a shell plate onto the building berth.

So if you want to know what a Caulker or Red Leader or even what "Fettling a plate" was then keep checking back, as this story will also look into the demarcation of the Shipyards and the strife between trades, but also how amidst all this the shipyard still functioned and produced ships to be proud of.


From the days when the ships were made from wood (as seen in this photo of the Rachel W Stevens under construction in the U.S.A.)
and the men were made of steel to the days when the shipyards towered over all. Note:- The foreman in the Bowler hat, a trend that continued well into the 1970's in some yards.

What was an "Anglesmith" or all the other long lost names for trades crucual to the building of ships at the time, a "Catcher" we shall explore them all in time. 

Of the very many men and trades it takes to build a ship be it in days gone by or today some names and skills have remained and some are now gone.

Some of the many and often mysteriously-named crafts and skills needed to build and repair the ships included the following:-

"Anglesmiths, Blacksmiths, Boatbuilders, Boilermakers, Brass Finishers, Bumpers Up, Burners, Cabinet Makers, Caulkers, Chargehands, Countersinkers, Cranemen, Draughtsmen, Drillers, Electricians, Engineers, Estimators, Fettlers, Fitters, Foremen, Frame Turners, French Polishers, Furnacemen, Holders Up, Iron Saw Men, Joiners, Labourers, Loftsmen, Machinists, Managers, Millwrights, Painters, Pattern Makers, Planers, Platers, Plumbers, Redleaders, Riggers, Riveters, Sailmakers, Sawyers, Scarphers, Stagers, Sheet Metal Men, Shipwrights, Storemen, Toolsmiths, Turners, Welders, Winchmen"


To be continued.

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