Lodge St. Andrew #518

The Pot-boilers Tracing Board

For the building of ships in the Naval Yard a vast number of Boilermakers were employed, consisting of Welders, Platers and Layabouts.

The Platers received a weekly allowance of tabs, baccy and broon; but the Welders were paid in Special, and went into the Jubilee Club to receive it.

They got there by way of a hole in the wall, at the entrance to which their attention was drawn to two Shop Stewards. That on the left was called ‘Bone Idle’ which means ‘Tired’. That on the right was called ‘Sackless’ which means ‘Useless’, and when conjoined ‘Futility’, for the Convenor said, ‘We that are born idle must stand firm together’.

These Shop Stewards were each five feet seven inches in height; in circumference four feet about the waist; and in diameter took an eighteen inch collar. They were formed mainly hollow, the better to contain the vast quantities of ale they were accustomed to consume during working hours.

They were clothed in blue boiler suits and donkey jackets, within which were deposited copies of the National Agreement. They were further adorned with Cloth Cap, White Muffler and a Broad Leather Belt. The Cloth Cap denotes ‘The Union’, the White Muffler, ‘the coldness of the wind’ and the Broad Leather Belt served to support the vast ‘corporation’ they carried before them.

These Shop Stewards were elected by a fiddled ballot which had two wonderful effects; the first being that no one with the slightest grain of intelligence could be elected to this post; and the second being that if such a calamity should occur it would be nothing less than a miracle.

They were ordered to be placed at the entrance to the hole in the wall by the Union Convenor, that being the most fitting and proper place for them, that the Boilermakers might have continually before them a reminder to pay their Union Dues when going to and returning from the Club during working hours.

After passing through the hole in the wall they found themselves at the foot of the stairs to the Club, where their ascent was opposed by the Ancient Doorman, who demanded of them their card, club and number. The card you will recall is CIU and is depicted by a Bingo Set next to a pile of Domino Cards.

This took its origin at a time when a squad of Welders crossed the Tyne in a hostile manner. The reason they attributed to this unfriendly visitation was that they had not been invited to join the Self-Financing Productivity Agreements, but the true reason was that they had not joined in the cheap beer put on for Christmas.

The welders had long been accounted a noisy and troublesome shower and had at last downed tools, called a meeting, and after many severe taunts to fitters in general, had threatened to ban the secretary and his committee from the Club. The Convenor having tried all lenient means at his disposal to appease them, failed miserably and so had recourse to more rigorous measures.

He drew forth his darts team and gave the welders battle, thrashed them three sets of one thousand and one up; and to render his victory decisive and to secure himself from like molestation in the future, he placed the ‘B’ team at the hole in the wall through which he knew the Welders must pass in order to return to the yard, giving strict instruction that should a worker pass that way, denying that he was a Welder, then a test word was to be put to them, which was to pronounce the word ‘Piece-work’, but the Welders being bone idle and hence dead scared of work would not say it but said instead ‘Time-work’, which small distinction discovered their trade and cost them their time.

And the Time Office inform us that on that day they docked forty and two hours at standard time and five hours premium time, which we take to be fifty two hours in total..

Having given this convincing prove they ascended the stairs and entered the Concert Room of the Club, which they found occupied by three, five and seven or more committee men.

Three milk the bandit, five run the bingo and seven or more sell the tickets.

Three milk the bandit in allusion to the three principal officers of the Club, namely the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Club Steward.

Five run the bingo in allusion to the five noble beverages, namely Export, Scotch, Bass, Special and Brown Ale.

Seven or more sell the tickets As it takes seven years and upwards to even be proposed for the Committee. They also allude to the seven glorious pastimes, namely, Boozing, Smoking, Bingo, Cards, Darts, Dominoes and Snooker.

While they were in the Concert Room of the Club their attention was drawn to certain symbols; depicted by the Blue Star, which denotes Scottish and Newcastle whom we must all support, and which we must all cheerfully imbibe.



Sent to me by Bro. Tom Nibloe (Lodge Ugie #939)

Pot Boiler