Caulker, Wm. Hamilton & Co. Ltd.
DAVID Bonar was born in Dumbarton72 years ago, and started work as a
packer's boy in MacMillan's Yard.
When he was old enough he began to serve his time there as a caulker, and he
remembers that one of his earliest jobs was helping to caulk one of the last
sailing ships built on the Clyde.
His father worked in Hamiltons as a ships' carpenter, and he followed him there in 1906. Apart from one or two short spells with other yards, one of them in America, he has been with Hamiltons ever since, in bad times and good.
Caulking today, he declares, is a far easier job than it was when all the work was done by hand and there were tools whose names have almost been forgotten the diamond point, the cape chisel, the buster. " There were no pneumatic machines.--- he says, "You just had to get down to it with your hammer. There's not the labour in it at all today."
Long ago his father built model yachts in his spare time, so David Bonar has been a model yacht enthusiast ever since he can remember. He has sailed competitively on most of the ponds in Scotland and won many prizes, including Port Glasgow's Lithgow Trophy, which was presented by Sir James Lithgow and was lost in the blitz. He is a life member of the Port Glasgow Model Yacht Club, which he helped to found.
Another of his enthusiasms has been fire-fighting, which once cost him his only spell off work in all his long career. Between the wars the insulation caught fire in a ship on the stocks, and he went below decks with a hose to fight the blaze. He remembers nothing after that. Someone dragged him out by the heels after he had been gassed by the fumes. He was not back at work again for a month.
This, however, was not enough to spoil his enthusiasm, and throughout the second war he was in charge of fire-fighting in the yard, coming in nearly every night to see that his shifts of volunteer firemen were properly posted.
David Bonar, second of a line of Hamilton's workers, has a third and a fourth generation at work there too. His son is a plater in the frame squad and his grandson is an apprentice plater. Old David himself is a kindly, hardworking man who does all the tricky jobs that other people find difficult. He is known by everyone and liked by everyone. There is no more popular man in the yard.