A Song of the Clyde (1882)
Song sung from the perspective of ’a toiler’s wife’ waiting for her husband, a fitter’s lad, to come home after a busy day in the yards.
The whistles blow, the hammers go, and willing hands begin
Sailon, ‘A Song of the Clyde’, People’s Friend, 10 May 1882
Song of the Clyde Workers (1883)
Alexander G. Murdoch
Song praising shipbuilding on the Clyde. Murdoch began his career as an engineer in the shipyards of the Clyde before becoming a professional poet and singer.
Ho, men of the Clyde, I will sing you a song,
Alexander G. Murdoch, ‘Song of the Clyde Workers’, People’s Friend, 3 January 1883
We’re Building a Bridge to Berlin (1918)|
C. K. Gordon (words), Bart E. Grady (music)
First World War propaganda song to inspire American workers. It was used as the accompaniment to two gangs of riveters giving an exhibition of their daily toil at B. F. Keith’s vaudeville theatre in Boston.
Shipyard Ramble (1941)|
Erskine Hawkins and his Orchestra
Instrumental big band swing, featuring tenors Julian Dash and Paul Bascomb and with trumpeters Dud Bascomb and Hawkins
Shipyard Social Function (1943)|
Lucky Millinder and his orchestra
Instrumental big band swing. Shipyard Social Function is another fine swinger, notable for the gorgeous alto of Tab Smith, good trumpet and Sam Taylor’s tenor.
Song of the Shipyards (1943?)|
Harry J. Price
‘This music was the Regimental March of the Second Battalion, the West India Regiment, which was disbanded in 1925 The music is being revived by Todd Shipyards Corporation, of New York, one of the world’s ranking ship construction, repair and conversion concerns, as the “Song of the Shipyards” and as a means of saluting their men and of helping them to get along with the job a little more cheerily. After all, the Army, the Navy and Air Corps, the Marines and other units of our armed forces have their songs, so why shouldn’t the shipyard worker?’
The Shipbuilders (1945)|
Patriotic wartime piano solo. Sheet music illustrated by Roland Roycraft.
Shipyard Woman Blues (1945)|
Jimmy Witherspoon with Jay McShann
A macho plea for the return to prewar conditions, when women were back in the home.
Well, they say the war is over, and peace is here again,
Shipyard Woman (1945)|
Big Jim Wynn
A macho plea for the return to prewar conditions, when women were back in the home.
Well, they’ve said the war is over, and peace is here again to stay,
Also recorded by Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson.
Got My Shipyard Job Again (1951)|
Frankie Ervin with Austin McCoy and his Combo
Scoial comment on wartime shipyard women workers.
Song of the Clyde (1957)|
Ian Gourlay and R.Y. Bell
A celebration of the River Clyde:
But from Glasgow to Greenock, in towns on each side
Sung and recorded numerous times, but most famously by Kenneth McKellar.
The Shipbuilders (1960)|
Peter Yorke’s Suite for brass band was commissioned for the 1960 BBC Fesival of Light Music. It contains four movements:
It is a regular test piece on the brass band circuit. It was included in the Vickers Barrow Works Band LP of 1977, A Musical Portrait By The Shipbuilders.
Unity Creates Strength (1972)|
LP of folk music created in support of the workers of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ work-in. Includes the following tracks:
‘Pay Day’, Alex Campbell
Shipyard Apprentice (1964)|
Also known as the ‘Fairfield Crane’ this song was first produced for the BBC2 series Landmarks in 1964. The song of an apprentice who emulates his father in the shipyard has evolved since first broadcast. It was first recorded in 1972 by Ray Fisher and has since become one of the most enduring folk songs of Clyde shipbuilding with many versions being recorded.
I was born in the shadow of a Fairfield’s crane
Scottish Songs of Today (1964)|
Collection of songs that included ‘Can o’ Tea’ about shipyard tea break disputes:
And the champagne flows, the wineglass glows
and ‘The Welder Song’ about a shipyard welder in love:
I’m welding steel from morning till night
Ballad of the Q4 (1968)|
Tribute to the builders of the QE2. First appeared on the 1968 album Honesty is out of the Fashion.
We’ll burn and cut and shape and bend
Ship-Yard Blues (1971)|
Jerry Wayne and the Working Men
Country and Western B side from Jeff Wayne’s dad. Vocal with instrumental accompaniment.
Tinny Can on my Tail (1972)|
Includes two songs in response to the UCS work-in:
Wi’ Jimmy Reid and Airlie
The Clydeside men are angry noo
The Shipbuilder (1972)|
Bob Pegg & Nick Strutt
A forty minute narrative poem or ‘folk opera’ commissioned by the BBC and first broadcast in December 1972. Influenced by ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. The Great White Lord commissions the shipbuilder to built a boat, but he falls in love with the lord’s lady. The lord finds out and nails the shipbuilder into the hull of the boat. Issued as an LP in 1974. Pegg ‘has surpassed himself with ‘The Shipbuilder’ which in its own way is as important as Townshend’s Tommy’. Melody Maker
When The Shipyards Go Back On Full Time (1976)|
The Irish Rovers
Song about the cyclical nature of the Belfast shipyards. Appeared on the 1976 album Live!.
Our troubles are over me woman
The Island Men (Shipyard Slips) (1977)|
Men Of No Property
Song about the decline of the Belfast shipyards and exile, written by Dave Scott (David Wilde) who was a member of the group Men Of No Property. Originally called ‘The Island Men’, but later re-titled as ‘Shipyard Slips’. Appeared on the 1977 album England’s Vietnam.
Cho: And I served me time with the iron men
From Belfast town I’m on me way
Written in response to the Falklands Conflict. First issued as an EP by Robert Wyatt in August 1982. Recorded by Elvis Costello for the 1983 album Punch the Clock featuring Chet Baker. Since recorded by many other artists including Suede, Tasmin Archer and June Tabor. Probably the best-known song about shipbuilding.
Within weeks they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
Shipyard Town (1988)|
A love song set against the backdrop of the Clyde.
And we stood out in the moonlight, in the shadow of a factory wall
Remember how we met, down by the waterside
Featured on the 1988 album North and South.
The Soul Cages (1991)|
An album dedicated to Sting’s father, an engineer who regretted not going to sea. The song Island of Souls tells the story of Billy the riveter. As he watches the ships set sail that his father helped build he dreams of taking his father with him to escape to sea. His father is then injured and given three weeks to live.
Billy was born within sight of the shipyard
The River (1993)|
A dark evocation of the Clyde’s empty shipyards, featured on the 1993 album Quiet Days.
Rows of slipways stand forgotten, empty yards with rotten frames
An elegy to the loss of industry in the North East by the Sunderland punk bank, featured on the 1994 album The Last.
Throw the fishermen lines close the shipyards and mines
My Father Worked on Ships (1995)|
The Whisky Priests
Bittersweet song about father’s pride at working in the Sunderland shipyards.
He was proud of those ships he built
Featured on the 1995 album Bleeding Sketches.
An instrumental titled ‘Death of the Shipyards’ also featured on the 1989 album Nee Gud Luck focusing on industrial decline in the North East of England.
Tucker Zimmerman’s Nightshift Trio
A song that harks back to the labour displacement of the Second World War as workers moved to the shipyards.
Featured on the 1999 album Walking of the Edge of the Blues.
I come to California in 1943
A lament for the Clydeside shipyards featured on the 2001 album Canterach.
A celebration of the Wirral for Brass Band, commissioned for the Wirral Schools’ Music Service. The third movement is titled ‘Shipbuilding on the Mersey’. ‘As the music unfolds, sense the work being done and the ships being proudly set afloat. The movement ends with a soprano cornet sounding out a ‘melody of hope’ for the future.’
Shipyards and Engineering Co. Ltd (2002)|
Dutch techno artist Remco De Jong took his cues from the Bolnes shipyard where his studio is located. An old disused dock in the harbour of Rotterdam still filled with large-scale machinery and cranes, the melancholy industrial atmosphere of the place infuses his music. Minimal and mechanical beats are overlaid with floating electronica, evoking the waters of the Maas River moving through the dock.
Title track of the German techno outfit’s 2009 12”. Other tracks include Cargo, Dockyard and a SQL “Dub” Remix of Shipyard.
Polish shipyard techno from the EP Mental Disorder. Also includes a Dereyen remix.
Shipyard techno from the Cincinnati dubstep producer. Appears on the EP Chemical Equation.
Made in Belfast (2012)|
Noel McMaster & Conal McCartney
A musical tribute to Titanic produced for the centenary. All of the songs relate to life around the time of the construction of the Titanic at Harland and Wolff. McMaster and McCartney portray the stark reality of life in both the home and working environment. Songs include ‘Harland & Wolff”, ‘Whiskey for the Boys and ‘Frosty Belfast Morn’. ‘Their music is both haunting and emotional’.
Songs from the Shipyards (2012)|
Music created for the Tyneside Cinema commissioned film Songs from the Shipyards, ‘a beautiful and moving film, tracing the story of shipbuilding’. Includes the songs:
The Shipyard (2012)|
Tor Lundvall is an American ambient/drone producer and painter. ‘The idea of a shipyard themed album is so fascinating and hearing it in its entirety makes it even more worthwhile.’ The first song on the album The Shipyard at Dawn portrays what a shipyard might be like at dawn. The drone synths and atmosphere of the track insinuate a very early morning sound. In the context of a shipyard, the fog has just come in and is surrounding the ships.
The Shipyard (2012)|
Shipyard angst from Polish alternative post punk group. Appeared on the 2012 debut album We Will Sea.
The sky is filled with stars
The Last Ship (2013)|
A studio album inspired by the musical of the same name. It draws on Sting’s memories of growing up in the shipyard town of Wallsend and is based on the closure of the Tyne shipyards. Includes the songs:
The Last Ship
The Shipyard Song (2013)|
Country music song about working at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula. Its got it all; hardhats, punching in getting up, lunch buckets, boss man, chipping, grinding, painting, fitting, etc., done in a big production with full band and background singers
Distant Shipyard (2013)|
A nice bit of Polish shipyard techno…
Shipyard Blues (2015)|
Romanian ambient minimal techno.
An explosive Funky Tech House with great vocals and textures conducive to the dance floor.
Submarine Shipyard (2015)|
DJ Dave Alexander
Dark and scary techno from Canada.
Italian techno from Milan’s DJs and producers Paolo Pozzi & Piero Scibetta.
The Lake Poets
Sunderland singer & songwriter Martin Longstaff’s homage. ‘My Granddad as a profession used to build Ships, he worked at Austin & Pickersgill on the banks of the River Wear. I am very proud if this fact, so proud in fact that I wrote the song ‘Shipyards’ about him’.
Like a ship you built you’re long gone from the coast