My old neighbour, Dorothy Walker, told me she worked in the Engine Shop during WW2 as a crane driver.
Contributed by Sally-Ann Hunter
Operating a crane in the engine shop was an important role in Barrow Shipyard during World War 2. In fact, crane operators like Dorothy were pivotal to Barrow Shipyard’s wartime contribution.
Commended for its incredible versatility, Barrow Shipyard was whole-heartedly involved in the war effort. There not only submarines were produced, but also a range of other vessels including air craft carriers. This versatility was a result of a reorganization of the yard, and a new approach to vessel production.
Welding the pieces of submarines and other vessels in an assembly line process, piece by piece, the workers at Barrow Shipyard followed a logical shipbuilding process. The pieces once complete would be transported via crane to the slipways, ready for final completion. As a result of this process, cranes, and crane operators were essential. And they certainly needed to be skilled!
Using a crane to transport prefabricated sections of submarine, as well as the engine, meant that the average construction time was reduced from 44 weeks to just 16!
As you can see, female crane drivers and operators during the Second World War, just like Dorothy, played a pivotal role to shipbuilding.