Mary Gawne

My mother Mary worked in the East shop as a crane driver before working as Secretary to Bill Pollit the manager, who lived in Nelson Street Dalton.

by Derek Gawne

Crane operators just like Mary, were crucial to the success of Barrow shipyard in the Second World War.

Barrow Shipyard was commended for its incredible versatility, during World War 2. From submarines and smaller sea vessels to large air craft carriers, Barrow Shipyard could produce and assemble the lot. This success was due to a reorganization and re-structuring of the yard, as well as a new approach to vessel production.

Using an assembly line process, submarines and other vessels in Barrow’s shipyard were welded piece by piece. Then, using a crane, these pieces would be transported to the slipways for the final welding together. As you can see, because of the skilled crane drivers, ship building followed a logical process.

Combining prefabrication with crane transportation shortened the average length of construction of a a submarine at Barrow Shipyard, from from 44 weeks to just 16!

As you can see, female crane drivers and operators during the Second World War, just like Mary, played a pivotal role to shipbuilding.

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