September 15, 2007

Fury over slurs against QE2 men

CLAIMS that the proud men who built the QE2 were vandals and thieves have been slammed.
The "slurs" are made in a TV documentary due to be shown next week.
In the film the QE2's former maitre d'hotel, David Chambers, accuses John Brown's workers of attempting to delay her handover to Cunard by smashing up fixtures and fittings as well as stealing hundreds of items.
Carpets, mattresses, doors and bed linen are all rumoured to have been stolen and he also claims that some men deliberately damaged toilets on the ship because they feared losing their jobs once the contract was finished.
But former John Brown's worker Clyde Taylor is furious that the slurs have been levelled against the devoted workers.
The 70-year-old told the Post: "These claims make me very angry because all the workers were so proud about their work and sometimes we did things that you would have thought were impossible — all for the love of the ship.
"It was a great workforce and we would never have done anything to sabotage the ship and anyone that's making these claims has got the wrong end of the stick.
"They should interview those that were there during it getting built instead of listening to hearsay.
"I worked on the QE2 throughout her construction and I never once saw anyone smashing anything up."
Despite some items undoubtedly going missing during the construction of one the Clyde's greatest ever ships, the accusations that have been levelled are said to be over the top.
Chambers, commenting in a forthcoming BBC documentary, said: "Some people carpeted their homes it was said, while I remember clearly others took sheets and pillow cases with Cunard written across them."
But former foundry manager Bill Kean, who worked at the yard for 50 years, thinks that many of these accusations are based around fantasy rather than fact.
The 86-year-old said: "These claims put a major slight on Clydebank and what was taken was certainly not on a big scale.
"There was some amount of pilfering but I would say that's the norm on any of these projects.
"Also a lot of the men used to boast about what they took away but these were normally just stories — and there was little truth in them.
"Although we were worried about losing our jobs there was still a great sense of pride in building such a fantastic ship."
Clyde added: "Most of the men had a tremendous pride in what they did and tried to do everything they could in order to complete her on time."
A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland said: "The programme does celebrate the whole story behind the QE2 and what it meant for the Clydeside.
"These comments are a very small part of it and are a statement by someone who was there at the time witnessing these events."
The programme — The Last Great Liner — will be aired on BBC2 Scotland on Monday September 17 at 9pm.

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