Drillers, riveters and caulkers worked together closely. The Dockyard used drillers to drill any metal that needed drilling. This included drilling the holes for rivets. There would be teams of riveters consisting of four to five men. Riveters drove down the rivets by hand using fairly light hammers on long handles. There would be three riveters who would stand around the rivet and as the rivet came up through the hole one would strike, then the other and then the third man. To secure the rivet they would continue striking it in the same way. Underneath supporting the rivet would be the dolly holder. He would use a dolly to hold the rivet in place.

Dolly (PRDHT)

As part of the riveting team there was a fire boy who controlled the fire. When the rivets were hot the passer would use tongs to pass the hot rivets along to the dolly holder.

Tongs (PRDHT)

Coke boys would get the coke, coal and rivets the riveters needed. By the 1950s the Dockyard had reduced riveting teams down to about three. This is because by then they were using pneumatic tools for hammering the rivet and also a pneumatic dolly. Iron caulkers followed the riveters and caulked the rivets to make them water or oil tight. By the 1970s caulking and riveting were amalgamated into a new trade, that of the iron caulker riveter.

Second World War propaganda
Second World War propaganda (RNM)

Tea Fanny

Dockyard workers had unofficial tea breaks up until after the Second World War. The Dockyard did not provide facilities for these unofficial tea breaks so the workers created their own system. They paid plumbers or coppersmith apprentices to make tea fannies which were small tin cans. The Dockyard workers boiled up water in their tea fannies to make tea on riveter's fires for a charge. Listen to the oral history extract to hear more.

Tea Fanny
Tea Fanny (PRDHT)

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"A fanny is a can that you boiled your, made your tea in. You used to go up to the coppersmiths and get an apprentice to make you a little copper fanny with a lid on. It's always been a fanny, nothing else. When you went off at night, you used to put your fanny in a little corner so that when you came aboard, after you clocked in you go fill your fanny up with water and take it to your box. Then round about 9 o'clock you notice that all the governor's left the ship and that was the time for us all to get our little hooks, in our fanny handle, over the riveters forge to boil up a cup of tea. Then we go back and have our cup of tea. But we always made sure we got back on the job before the governors come back."