One man's memories of life at Brigham and Cowans - the shipyard which was 'one big happy family'

A South Tyneside man living in Norway has shared his memories of life as a shipyard fitter.

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 7:00 am

Colin Campbell now 71, recalled his apprenticeship at Brigham and Cowans from 1966 to 1969 and hailed it as ‘a great place to work’.

He remembered his workmates from more than 50 years ago and they included Jock Florence, Bertie Hindmoor, Tommy Healey and Ernie Schemmings.

Colin spent three years at ‘Brighams’ before transferring his apprenticeship to Harland and Wolff in Southampton.

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Colin Campbell who shared his memories of life on South Tyneside.

He told the Gazette: “Once my apprenticeship was finished I travelled the world, in the Merchant Navy, returning to South Shields and my parents when on leave.

“I am still a member of Brigham and Cowans Social Club in South Shields, and one of the few that are who worked in Brigham’s shipyard.”

Colin added: “Brighams was a great place to work, and was like being part of a big happy family, and we had the social club.

“I worked in the fitting shop. The shop steward was Jock Florence a turner. The chargehand was Bertie Hindmoor. Other fitters were Tommy Healey and his brother John, also Ernie Schemmings all from Sunderland. Ronny Ashurst and Ralphie Stobart were turners.

Colin Campbell today.

“Fellow apprentices were, Jimmy Murray, Alan Pattison, Robby Waters and Alan Kelly. Alfie White was the foreman plumber.”

Colin lives at the moment in Norway where he has four children and nine grandchildren.

His brother David, who now lives in Andover, also served his apprenticeship in Brighams as a fitter, said Colin.

Did you work at Brighams and would you like to share your memories of those days? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

An aerial view of Brigham and Cowan's which was shared with us by Colin.

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Workmen at Brigham and Cowan's ship repair yard using hose pipes to clear away the oil from the dock gate, before berthing a ship in 1967.
Elizabeth Woodhouse Campbell (nee Ford) together with sons Colin, right, and David in 1950.