Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Shop Stewards Committee, Govan, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content


  • Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) Shop Stewards' Committee transcripts, 1971-1972;
  • Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) Shop Stewards' Committee tape recordings, 1971-1972.

Administrative / Biographical History

In  1968 , the Labour government pronounced that  Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd  was to be responsible for shipbuilding in the Glasgow area. This decision resulted mainly from the findings of the Geddes Report on British shipbuilding. The report led the UK government to force the merger of the five existing shipbuilding companies from Clydebank to Govan, into one, which was to be known as the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd. The five yards merged were:  John Brown & Co (Clydebank) Ltd in Clydebank;  Fairfields (Glasgow) Ltd in Govan;  Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd in Linthouse;  Charles Connell & Co Ltd  in Scotstoun; and  Yarrows & Co Ltd also in Scotstoun.

The Upper Clyde Shibuilders (UCS) Yard was to set the bench mark not only for shipbuilding, but for industry as a whole in Britain. At its formation, there were nearly 14,000 people in the work-force. Yet despite having a full orderbook and a forecasted profit in 1972, UCS was controversially forced to enter into liquidation in 1971 when the government refused a £6m working capital loan. Rather than go on strike, the traditional form of industrial action, the Shop Stewards Committee organised the UCS work-in of  1971-1972 . The intention was to complete the orders that the shipyards had in place, in an effort to force the government to intervene financially to save the yards.

Given the high profile of the UCS official liquidation, the work-in received a great deal of media attention. Their action was partly successful, as in  1972  the government sanctioned the formation of  Govan Shipbuilders Ltd, with  Scotstoun Marine Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary. However, the existence of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd was ended.

These records contain transcripts and reel to reel tape recordings of meetings held during the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) work-in, which were originally recorded for the purpose of writing up Shop Stewards Bulletins by the publicity committee. The material covered includes:  

  • Mass meetings of UCS workers;
  • Shop Steward meetings;
  • Press interviews, television and radio programmes on UCS.
Absent however are recordings of the daily meetings of the co-ordinating committee, which represented the central structure in the UCS shop stewards organisation. Despite this they remain a significant primary source on the UCS work-in.

Copies of the original tapes were acquired independently by both the Scottish Record Office (SRO), and Charles Alexander Woolfson, from James Reid. Woolfson later donated his copies to the University of Glasgow along with the transcripts that he had made. Woolfson also provided the SRO with copies of his transcripts. The transcription process was completed by Woolfson over a period of two and a half years, with help from Margaret Pitt-Watson, however two of the tapes were found to be untranscribable. Gerry Ross, a former member of the co-ordinating committee, helped to identify as many of the speakers as possible. Woolfson then went on to use the transcripts as the basis of his PhD thesis Working class culture: the work-in at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (1982), as well as his book The politics of the UCS work-in: class alliances and the right to work (1986), which he co-authored with John Foster.

NOTE: Dates do not match with total accuracy between the tapes and the transcripts however they are in approximately correct order with a few exceptions. Tapes UGD 181/2/1-9 correspond with volume 1 of the transcripts (UGD 181/1/1); tapes UGD 181/2/10-16 correspond with volume 2 of the transcripts (UGD 181/1/2); and tapes UGD 181/2/16-25 correspond with volume 3 of the transcripts (UGD 181/1/3).


This material is arranged chronologically

Access Information

Some items in this collection are restricted under Data Protection legislation as they contain sensitive information. These records will not be fully accessible to the public until 100 years from the date on each file. However, they may be accessible to bona fide researchers and academics.

Please contact the Duty Archivist for advice on how to apply for access to these files. Contact details are as follows: Duty Archivist, University of Glasgow Archive Services 13 Thurso Street Glasgow Scotland United Kingdom G11 6PE Email:

File marked RH22/1 is closed.

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Alternative Form Available

GB 0234 RH22/1/1 contains the same information as the Index in GB 0248 UGD 181/1/1; and GB 0234 RH22/1/29-53 is an exact duplicate of GB 0248 UGD 181/1/1-3. All these items are presently stored at GUAS.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures.


None expected

Related Material

  • See also Glasgow University Archive Services source list on Ship Building, Ship Repair and Allied Industries;
  • GB 0248 DC 065 Hay and Woolfson Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ephemera collection;
  • GB 0248 DC 187 Papers of David Flint, 1919-, Professor of Accountancy and Vice-Principal, University of Glasgow, Scotland;
  • GB 0248 DC 455 Papers of James Reid, 1932-2010, Rector and Scottish trade union official, University Of Glasgow, Scotland;
  • GB 0248 UGD 180 Transcripts and reel to reel tape recordings of media reports of the UCS 'work-in', Glasgow, Scotland ;
  • GB 0248 UGD 348 and GB 0248 UCS 001 Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd;
  • GB 0248 UGD 349 and GB 0248 UCS 003 Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd;
  • GB 0248 ACCN 0989 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders liquidation material;
  • GB 0248 ACCN 3613 and GB 0248 ACCN 3629 Papers of Sir Robert Smith, 1928-, chartered accountant and official Upper Clyde Shipbuilders liquidator, Glasgow, Scotland;
  • GB 0243 UCS 002 Records of Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, 1801-1969 (Glasgow City Archives)
  • For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, see the ARCHON repository search page

Location of Originals

This material is original


Woolfson, Charles and Foster, John, The Politics of the UCS Work-in (1986, London)

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Compiled by Jenny Cooknell, Assistant Archivist, 25 October 1999. Updated by Jack Watt, Archives Assistant, 19 November, 1999. Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 14 May 2002. Fonds level converted to Encoded Archival Description (EAD) by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 17 June 2002. Catalogue enhanced by Callum Morrision, Club21 volunteer, 27/08/2012. Lower levels converted to EAD by Michael Beesley, Archive Assistant, August 2013. Amended by Sam Maddra, Assistant Archivist (cataloguing), 4 November 2013.

Geographical Names