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National Maritime Museum

Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association


Reference code(s): GB 0064 SRNA

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association

Date(s): [1889-1976]

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 800ft: 244m

Name of creator(s): Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association was formed in 1967 by the integration of the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation (founded in 1899), the Dry Dock Owners' and Repairers' Central Council (founded in 1910) and the Shipbuilding Conference (founded in 1928). Before the formation of the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation, a 'Federation of Shipbuilders and Engineers of England, Scotland and Ireland' had been constituted. As early as 1890 there was a feeling that it would be advantageous if the association were to be confined to shipbuilding members only, but it was 1897 -- the same year as the engineers strike for a forty-eight hour week --before the engineering firms withdrew. They then formed their own body, the Engineering Employers' Federation. The National Federation of Shipbuilders, as the old association was briefly known, was dissolved in 1899 with the formation of the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation. Most of the local Shipbuilders' Associations then in existence were represented, including those of Aberdeen, Clyde, Barrow, Hull, Tyne, Tees and Wear. Responsibility for negotiation with the shipyard trade unions was undertaken by the central body on behalf of the membership; in this period several important national agreements were concluded, notably that of 1909, which laid down procedures to be followed in future negotiations and established a framework for conciliation and arbitration. This, with a review in 1913, was maintained until the beginning of the war when the shipyards came within the provisions of the legislation for the compulsory settlement of disputes. There was also a comprehensive review of labour relations by a joint Committee of management and labour which led in 1928 to an agreement with the S.E.F. and the shipbuilding trade unions on the procedures to be followed in future disputes, which, with some modifications, lasted to the present day.

The Dry Dock Owners' and Repairers' Central Council was formed in 1910 by members of several local ship-repairing associations to ensure greater uniformity of schedules and rates and to contain the extreme competition which was then taking place. The Shipbuilding Conference, a national commercial organization representative of the whole industry, was set up in 1928 at a time when the industry was experiencing severe difficulties. In an attempt to solve the problem of economically unsound competition between firms in the 1930s, one of the Conference's first actions was to produce a 'tendering expenses scheme', whereby one per cent of the contract price was intended for tendering expenses to be divided among the tenderers in accordance with an agreed scale. Another system which it- instituted was notification to the Conference of enquiries received by builders which led to the introduction of 'Job Conferences', an arrangement for establishing co-operation between firms and maintaining reasonable price levels. There was a general recognition during this period that the major task of the industry was to reduce building capacity which led to the formation in 1920 of National Shipbuilders Security Ltd. The main object of this organization was the purchase by voluntary negotiation of redundant shipyards. By 1938 it had reduced building capacity by purchase by 1.3 million tons. National Shipbuilders Security Ltd went into voluntary liquidation in 1958.

The National Association of Marine Enginebuilders, formed in 1939, operated as an affiliate of the Conference, since many of its members were neither shipbuilders nor ship-repairers. Its members' workforces negotiated with the Engineering Employers' Federation rather than the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation, and this relationship continued after the formation of the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association in 1967. In this year the three organizations joined to become the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association. Within the new body separate boards were set up.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association. Including Shipbuilding Employers' Federation: these records include the minute book of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Ship-builders and Engineers, 1889 to 1898; the S.E.F. minute books, 1899 to 1965; a complete run of circulars, 1899 to 1965, and, slightly less complete, 1966 to 1967, the means by which the central body communicated to the local membership. The bulk of the collection, however, is to be found in the very large number of the S.E.F. files which have survived. They start in the 1930s, although many contain papers gathered before this date, for instance, 'Foremen and Under-foremen retaining union membership, 1920 to 1964'. These files touch on every aspect of labour relations, including wages, bonus payments, piecework rates, nightshift working, allowances, demarcation, apprenticeship, training and safety. In the files are correspondence, memoranda, statistical returns, minutes of meetings and agreements. A selection of the titles of the files gives an idea of the range of subjects: 'Temporary relaxation of existing customs and practices -- national agreement with Boilermakers' Society, 1940 to 1943'; 'District claims for payment of confined space allowance to skilled timeworkers, 1941 to 1967'; 'Complaints against foremen or chargehands by workpeople or unions, 1947 to 1952'; 'Painters, redleaders and cementers, claims for working with obnoxious paints, 1932 to 1953'. The S.E.F. also prepared labour statistics on a weekly and monthly basis, and a quarterly return submitted to the Ministry of Labour on numbers employed. These have been retained, 1936 to 1960; and there are strike returns, 1959 to 1967, 1972 to 1976, and accident statistics, 1963 to 1971.

Dry Dock Owners and Repairers Central Council: the records consist of minutes, 1910 to 1959; circulars, 1910 to 1956. As before, the main part of the collection is the great number of files relating to dry docking. Examples include, 'Dry Docks Tax Allowance', 1950 to 1963; dry dock facilities, 1954 to 1967; dry dock projects, 1953 to 1964. There are several on technical matters, such as those on T2 tankers, 1948 to 1952; on the gas freeing of tankers prior to dry docking, 1959 to 1973. There is also a series relating to the wartime Emergency Repairs Agreement, 1940 to 1946. Shipbuilding Conference: Private Meeting minute books, 1928 to 1945; circulars, 1928 to 1969. As the body within shipbuilding bearing responsibility for all commercial matters, the records of the Shipbuilding Conference and the Shipbuilding Board of the S.R.N.A., touch on almost every aspect of the trading and commercial activities of the industry, including relations with government, the Navy, and on every subject from the 'scrap and build scheme' of the British Shipping Act of 1935 to nationalization, 1974 to 1977. There are files on 'price improvement and tendering expenses schemes', 1935 to 1951; the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, Maritime Safety Committee, 1966 to 1971; Lloyd's Technical Committee, 1956 to 1970; the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee, 1958 to 1960; the Shipbuilding Industry Board, 1965 to 1972; the British Ship Research Association, on whose management committee the shi


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information. No restrictions have been imposed on the use of the records at the Museum.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were presented in 1977 on the dissolution of the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association. They came to the Museum through the survey of shipbuilding records sponsored by the S.R.N.A. and by the Business Archives Council.


Related material:

The collection is complete, except for a small number of files retained by the S.R.N.A. Dissolution Committee, a few passed on to the new state holding company, British Shipbuilders Ltd, and a further few passed to the newly formed Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Independent Association, the group established by the remaining private firms in the industry. The large number of files relating to National Shipbuilders Security Ltd. were not passed to the Museum.


Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Dock companies | Transport companies | Companies | Enterprises
Shipbuilding | Marine engineering | Transport engineering

Personal names

Corporate names
National Association of Marine Enginebuilders
Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association