1930s Fiction

noimage The Voyage Home (1930)
Storm Jameson

The second in the Triumph of Time trilogy following the fortunes of a shipbuilding family.

Storm Jameson, The Voyage Home, (London, 1930).
noimage A Richer Dust (1931)
Storm Jameson

The third in the Triumph of Time trilogy following the fortunes of a shipbuilding family.

Storm Jameson, The Voyage Home, (London, 1931).
noimage The Loving Spirit (1931)
Daphne Du Maurier

A family saga spanning four generations of the Coombe family, shipbuilders and mariners, who live in and around the Cornish village of Plyn.

Daphne Du Marier, The Loving Spirit, (london, 1931).
noimage The Great Shipyard Mystery (1931)
John Ascott (John W. Bobin)

A Sexton Blake mystery.

John Ascott, The Great Shipyard Mystery, (Sexton Blake Library, 2nd Series No. 288, London, 1931).
noimage Well Tackled! A story of a shipyard (1932)
Lawrence R Bourne

Benson Wilsthorpe, a young man, inherits his uncle’s shipyard at Ellersley on Merseyside. Bumps into Paget, an old chum from school. He has invented new type of engine and steel. Benson hires him at shipyard to develop ideas. Develops high speed boat. International Revolutionary Workers try to steal secret. Hijack liner at New York and try to take it to Archangle. Paget foils them by draining fuel tanks. Benson hears of hijack and sets out with Mersey police to rescue ship in Outer Hebrides. I.R.W. uncovered as criminal underground.

Lawrence R Bourne, Well Tackled! A story of a shipyard, (Oxford, 1932).
noimage Deepening River (1932)
Dot Allan
Story begins in 1745 Agnes Allison, daughter of a sailmaker, falls in love with jacobite who dies. Instead marries father’s businbess partner, MacAndrew. She has vision of future for the company. Her grandson goes to fight in Peninsular War and returns with a Spanish bride. His son, called Senor, diversifies into shipbuilding. Senor’s grandson, George MacAndrew, in charge of yard in 1913. He is a reactionary boss. His daughter, Phillipa, falls in love with a firebrand welder at height of Red Clydeside. He dies in the war. George MacAndrew sells yard during depression after war, moves to south of France and dies. Phillipa returns to Clyde when she hears that the yard is to close. Meets her former fiancee who decides to keep the yard open. An odd mix of soppy love story and clarion call for shipbuilding to continue its proud tradition in the face of the depression.

Dot Allan, Deepening River, (London, 1932).
noimage The Rich Wife (1932)
Frederick Niven

Mrs. Hepworth, the wife of an affluent ship-builder, tries to persuade her husband that it would be more advantageous if he, as a prominent businessman, were to leave the nonconformist church of which he is an influential member and join the more socially acceptable established church.

Frederick Niven, The Rich Wife, (London, 1932)
noimage Bredon and Sons (1933)
Neil Bell

The story of a family of East Anglian shipbuilders from 1844 to the post first world war days. The story centres on the old Suffolk town of Senwich, where the Bredons for generations have had their roots. Their name is famous as the builders of fishing yawls, smacks, etc. It is a story of love and hate and ambition, peopled with a gallery of characters that will long remain in the memory of the reader.

Neil Bell, Bredon and Sons, (London, 1934).
noimage The Shipbuilders (1935)
George Blake

The story of Clyde shipyard owner Leslie Pagan and riveter Danny Shields, his batman from army days. The ship Estramadura,the last on order, is launched and Pagan reluctantly lays off the black squad. Danny is kept on but not for long. Pagan’s English wife and sickly child pull him south where he looks for orders. Danny is unemployed. Pagan returns and hires Danny for his house but not for long. Pagan is forced to shut the yard and offers Danny a job as gardener in England. Danny prefers to stick to his trade in Glasgow hoping for better times.

George Blake, The Shipbuilders, (London, 1935).
noimage Major Operation: The saga of a Scottish city (1936)
James Barke

Jock McKelvie is a red leader on the Clyde. Lives in Partick, works at Bilsland’s shipyard, Rothesay Dock. George Anderson is a coal merchant in the city. During the depression Jock is out of work and is involved in the unemployed workers movement. Both men become ill and are placed beside each other in hospital. While in hospital Anderson becomes bankrupt and his wife leaves him. He is converted to working class. Both men are released and Anderson stays with McKelvie. During big hunger march Police horses charge. McKelvie is injured. Anderson protect him with red flag but is then killed by police horse.

James Barke, Major Operation: the saga of a Scottish City, (London, 1936).
noimage Gael Over Glasgow (1937)
Edward Shiels

Story of Brian O’Neill, an apprentice engineer at Beardmore’s. Gets laid off when he has served his time. Gets job at Singer’s, takes part in General Strike, gets laid off again. Spends unemployed time in country at Loch Lomond. Finally gets job fitting out Queen Mary. Rich uncle comes over from Canada, has bought some land in Highlands. Brian decides to give up shipbuilding and work on the land. The novel is based on the romantic notion that city life is bad and county life is good and the struggle between employment and fulfillment.

Edward Shiels, Gael Over Glasgow, (London, 1937).
noimage Ruined City (1938)
Nevil Shute

Story of London Merchant Banker Harry Warren who is betrayed by his wife. He determined to get healthy, went up to north of England and began walking. Got taken ill was admitted to hospital in Sharples a small shipbuilding town north of Newcastle (Blyth). The town is in depression as the yard, plate mill and mine are shut. The hospital is full of ill unemployed people. He speaks with the Almoner Miss MacMahon and determines to do something for the town. He returns to London and arranges a dodgy deal with the Balkan state of Laevetia in order to secure ship contracts for the yard. The yard starts to get more work and the town goes back to work. Warren is tried for misrepresenting the share prospectus for the company and is jailed. On his release he returns to the town and is hailed as a hero. This is a novel about how international wheeler dealing in the banking world can affect a small shipbuilding town.

Nevile Shute, Ruined City, (London, 1938).
noimage Roughanapes (1939)
William McDowell

Semi autobiographical novel set in Barrow in Furness. McDowell worked in the drawing office of Vickers and went on to become a renowned marine artist.

William McDowell, Roughanapes, (London, 1939).
noimage The Land of the Leal (1939)
James Barke

Story of David and Jean Ramsay, farmworkers from Galloway who go in search of prosperity to the Borders, Fife and finally Glasgow. David gets a job as a rigger’s labourer in a Partick shipyard. Good evocation of the shock of encountering the noisy and brutal city in ‘Shipyard Symphony’. Novel with a socialist message but not as didactic as Major Operation.

James Barke, The Land of the Leal, (London,1939).