Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby EAMONN BURKE on Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:57 am

My great granduncle Francis Gilligan (a native of Co. Leitrim of the Roman Catholic faith) was according to family tradition an employee of Harland and Wolff. The 1911 census gives his trade as that of a boiler maker. I was wondering if the company's employee records from that time still exist as i would like to have the opportunity to view them.
Regards,
Eamonn Burke

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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby Tom McCluskie on Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:39 am

Sorry Eamon, but I have to advise you that Harland and Wolff consider all employee records as private and confidential and as company policy do not make any details available to the public. In any event any records retained by the company for this period would be very limited in their content. Your best bet would be to contact the appropriate trade union and locate his employment details from that source.
Boilermakers would be members of the Boilermakers Society now amalgamated with the Transport and General Union. The local address for their office is TGWU, Transport House, Victoria Street, Belfast.
Hopefully they will be able to assist you in your research.
It was like that when I got here
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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby EAMONN BURKE on Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:48 pm

Hi Tom,
Many thanks for responding to my query. I will contact the TGWU as you suggested.
Best Wishes,
Eamonn Burke
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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby Nora Chidlow on Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:45 pm

Hello,

I am looking for verification that Harland & Wolff did in fact emply deaf men as the TITANIC's platers. I stumbled upon this tidbit in a paragraph of Brad Matsen's book, Titanic's Last Secrets. The book says these deaf men were either late deafened or born deaf, and they used sign language to communicate. They had their own community comprising of about an acre on the water, and they even had their own shed. I have found nothing online, and Matsen's footnotes are not very clear, except for a reference to Harland & Wolff. Does anyone know about this?

Thanks in advance.

Nora Chidlow
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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby Tom McCluskie on Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:27 pm

Dear Norah,

Regrettably the text in Brad Matsens book contains a number of inaccuracies and this is one of them. Harland and Wolff indeed did employ deaf mutes however they were not exclusively Platers although there is no practical reason this should not be the case however the Harland and Wolff records do not indicate if any deaf employees were indeed Platers. What Mr Matsen is refering to is the Fettling Shop which was part of the Harland and Wolff foundry. The fettling shop removed the "burrs" or excess casting material from components by use of air powered chisels which were extremely noisy in operation. Similar to road drills but much, much louder. To prevent injury by the continual exposure to these extreme noise levels H&W made it a condition that only employees who had been born deaf and therefore had absolutely no hearing could carry out this work in a secure area. Continual exposure to such noise levels would quite quickly cause permanent damage to anyone with normal hearing. As Foundry processes improved the need for such work diminished and the Fettling Shop ceased operations in 1958.
It was like that when I got here
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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby Nora Chidlow on Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:06 pm

Thank you, Tom, for your reply. I can understand how information can get mixed up in the course of research; I've done it myself. I am sure, in the struggle for accuracy, we writers and researchers vie for at least a tad bit of accuracy. My next question, if you can answer it, is where I can find these records that state H&W made it a policy to hire only deaf men, if any still exist. I have never seen this tidbit of deaf history anywhere online and I'm seriously considering expanding it into a journal article, at least; perhaps a bit more. Obviously, I am just beginning my research, having finished Mr. Matsen's book only last week. My angle would, of course, be on the humanitarian side profiling the lives of the deaf workers and their role in the building of the TITANIC - if there is enough information. Professionally, I am the archivist of the United States Coast Guard and occasionally write short articles on maritime history for the Historian's Office's website. I also have professional ties to the deaf history community, being a former archivist at the Gallaudet University Archives, which houses the world's largest deaf archives.

I appreciate any guidance from you.
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Re: Early 20th Century Employee Records of Harland and Wolff

Postby vivienne atherton on Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:44 am

I am wondering if you could help me in any way. My sister & i have recently found out that one of our relatives, Mr Edward Salthouse worked as an electrical engineer for Harland & Wolff & as we understand worked on the blueprints for the Titanic. There is also a story within the family that Edward was offered a job working on the Titanic when she set sail but he turned that down. The reason is unknown, even his Son has said he never talked about it. We also found out that later on in his career he was given an M.B.E for his services to Harland & Wolff. We think this was given well after the fateful event & had nothing at all to do with the Titanic, but for his hard work with the company, and we also think he worked on the blueprints for H.M.S Belfast. We would be really grateful if you could give us any leads on how we could find out exactly his role at Harland & Wolff & to see if we could find out why he turned his position on the Titanic down & why he got his M.B.E.
thankyou very much
Vivienne Atherton :)
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