Plater, Kingston Yard

Alexander Notman started as an office boy at Kingston in 1902, and one of the first things he noticed
was that while a drawing office draughtsman earned 30/- a week, a plater earned £5. He decided there,
and then to be a plater.
He has been one ever since under five managers, and he is still going strong.
He has spent all his time at Kingston, except for a few months on an assembly line job in the
United States (" Perpetual motion it was,I was glad to get back "), and seven months with Scotts during a slack period in 1938. It seems to have agreed with him. He looks 20 years younger than a man of 72 has any right to look, and he can still become enthusiastic about the many hobbies he has tried.

Round about 1908 he had the first three-speed bicycle in Greenock. Then in 1910 he took up motor-cycling on a weird vehicle called a tricar which, he says, cost him £10 second-hand and couldn't get up Smithston Hill in a light breeze until he had converted it to a two wheeler. After that it fairly knocked the stuffing out of the cycle club. His next enthusiasm was swimming, then golf ("I never was better than 13 handicap, but I think I could beat Mr. Harkness yet."), and finally what he calls the old man's pastime, gardening.
Old man or not, his garden is the envy of the neighbours, with very few vegetables and a tremendous show of flowers. His asters and chrysanthemums are magnificent, but his favourite is probably the lupin. He had a whole garden of lupins once, but now goes more for variety.

Looking back over his long working life, he says the most remarkable achievement he remembers was the occasion when Lithgows built 18 ships in one year. " It wasn't a great feat." he says, " It was a miracle. Of course the ships were only 4,000 to 6,000 tons, but even at that I still don't know how it was done. All I remember is that everyone was hashing at it so hard, when you went to a machine someone pushed you out. There has never been anything like it since."

Alexander Notmart is a kenspeckle figure about the yard, known to everyone and very much respected. It is 14 years now since his long and useful career was recognised by the award of the British Empire Medal. Since then he has put in the better part of another working life, and he is as chirpy as ever.

Mr Alexander Notman


This article was first published in 1959.

Mr Notman

The details in these portraits have not been alterd from the source material or editied in any way. They were all taken from the Lithgows Journals and permission for their reproduction has been saught. This site was to built to bring the history of the town and what better way than to "hear" about the past from the people who lived it.

This page last modified on Friday, April 02, 2010

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