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Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams

Bob the Postman 21 Apr 05 - 09:22 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 05 - 09:35 PM
Fiona 22 Apr 05 - 05:16 AM
Jim McLean 22 Apr 05 - 06:04 AM
GUEST 22 Apr 05 - 07:05 AM
GUEST 22 Apr 05 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 22 Apr 05 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,HughM 22 Apr 05 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,HughM 22 Apr 05 - 08:14 AM
Fiona 22 Apr 05 - 08:35 AM
Fiona 22 Apr 05 - 08:42 AM
RobbieWilson 22 Apr 05 - 08:57 AM
akenaton 22 Apr 05 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,cjo'h 01 Jun 13 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 02 Jun 13 - 03:41 AM
Megan L 02 Jun 13 - 04:13 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Jun 13 - 04:36 AM
Dave Hanson 02 Jun 13 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,kenny 02 Jun 13 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 02 Jun 13 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,kenny 02 Jun 13 - 01:42 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jun 13 - 05:47 PM
Tattie Bogle 03 Jun 13 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,cjo'h 10 th Sept 2013 11 Sep 13 - 04:14 PM
Bob the Postman 11 Sep 13 - 07:45 PM
GUEST 17 Dec 13 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Guest Anne Neilson 17 Dec 13 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,cjo'h 24 Jan 14 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Cujimmy 25 Jan 14 - 06:34 PM
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Subject: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 21 Apr 05 - 09:22 PM

I plan to sing Dominic Behan's "Crooked Jack" next week at a gathering to remember workers killed or injured on the job. Can anyone give background info? Were there an unusual number of accidents during the construction of Scottish hydroelectric projects? Were the contractors particularly callous? Why Irish labour--weren't there enough desperate Scots? Was Crooked Jack an actual guy or just a fictional stand-in for assorted actual guys? When were these dams built? Did people protest the flooding of their glens? Is the legacy of the Scottish hydro projects positive or negative? And what the heck are "shuttering jams"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 05 - 09:35 PM

Bob, it's actually "shuttering dams"....it's a concrete thing. You would be better learning the song "The Shirra Dam" to give a better idea of the time and conditions. The song was written by Helen Fullerton who worked in the canteen on the site.There was Scots, Irish and even Poles who built the dams.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Fiona
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 05:16 AM

Hi Bob,

I don't like to disagree with guest but I always thought it was 'shuttering jambs' ie the supporting pieces of wood used for shoring up, when tunnelling, as of door jambs (lintels and sides). Shuttering is also used as a temporary 'form', when pouring concrete to make concrete foundations, stairs etc.

Fiona


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Jim McLean
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 06:04 AM

I'll post the lyrics, written by Dominic Behan, as printed in his book Ireland Sings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 07:05 AM

In DT both this song and McAlpines Fusileers mention Shuttering Jams and hydro dams. I alwas took this to be some kind of problem in concrete work.

Dick Gaughan on his lyric site for Crooked Jack says shuttering jams and I have always found him pretty thorough and accurate.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 07:11 AM

BUILDING UP AND TEARING ENGLAND DOWN
Dominic Behan

Another song where Behan talks of shuttering jams, this time however it is something you can fall from so it is not an event but an object.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 07:16 AM

"jamb" it is. Nothing else has a leg to stand on!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 08:03 AM

I can't shed any more light on shuttering jam(b)s, but I thought I'd mention another excellent song about the hydro-electric schemes. It's called "Coshieville", by Sandy McGregor if I remember rightly. it's in a book called "Folksongs from the Highlands. I think the Shira Dam song is in there too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,HughM
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 08:14 AM

Coshieville is a village near Aberfeldy. Coshie is an old Scottish word for cosy. The dams would have been built mostly in the 1950's. The song doesn't mention casualties, so it may not be what you want for this occasion, but it deserves to be more widely known.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Fiona
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 08:35 AM

From guest,



I don't know the song but from reading the lyrics, I'd say he was referring to the Victoria Line which was added to the London Underground in the 70s IIRC. So the 'shuttering jams' would be the shoring used as they dug the tunnel, before they came behind to build the walls properly.

They earned good money on the project, it was 24/7 working but the conditions were atrocious and several men died. As many of them were 'casual' ie not properly employed and insured there wasn't much in the way of compensation for their families either.

There's a place on Cricklewood Broadway where men without work go and stand at 5am, in the hope of getting taken on for the day. The subbies (sub-contractors) came by in vans if they need extra workers. To my mind it's utterly degrading and as casual employees they have no rights really. Nowadays it's as often East Europeans as Irish, Scots or English, poverty having no nationality. You see allsorts of men, from ones just down on their luck to the homeless old drunks waiting and hoping 'for a start'.

Sorry to go on I've always thought it one of the most disgraceful sights I've ever seen. We all live in houses and travel roads, with little thought to what's gone into the making of them.

Fiona


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Fiona
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 08:42 AM

Sorry,

there should have been a quote from the song guest referred to,

'Building Up and Tearing England Down' by Dominic Behan,

guest said, 'shuttering jambs were something yyou could fall from'.

Fiona (I'm rubbish at this posting lark)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 08:57 AM

I looked at some concreting sites and however Dominic Behan spelled it he would seem to have been talking about jambs which are a component of concrete shuttering.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: akenaton
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 05:41 PM

Yes , as a boy I watched my uncle work on the shuttering of the Shirra.

The "jams" were wooden supports for the formwork which was also made of wood and filled with wet concrete.
Quite often the shutters would collapse under the pressure of the concrete as it was vibrated.
On the later dams, steel shuttering was used ...much safer.

On all the dams in Argyll ,the vast majority of the work force were Irish, hard men who lived in camps near the "job".

McAlpines Fusileers, give a good insight to the character of the men and the conditions they endured...Ake


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,cjo'h
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 09:52 PM

Worked as a carpenter on the Shirra Dam back in '53 & part of '54, just after finishing my apprenticeship to the trade.Was recruited by a local journey - man carpenter from my local area in the North of Ireland.He had been working there for several years by this time.Came there with two of my boyhood friends.The work was relatively easy and the pay was good.Except the weather was extremely cold and damp.Cut right through you,even though we were wearing winter weather gear supplied by the company -Carmichael's of Edinburgh.The Shuttering they talk about were steel panels about 6' x 10' which we pulled up by steel wire ropes and special jacks and held in place with more steel ropes and 2" thick steel bolts in order to hold the concrete in place.Our co-workers were Polish,Italian,English,Scottish,a few German and also a few Dutch and many Irish.The Scottish were the hardest to understand,of course they had the same problem with us.Those were the good old days.Charlie....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 03:41 AM

Another song on this topic is "The Mickey Dams". Not having it to hand at the moment I can't say who wrote it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: KISS THE CHILDREN FOR ME MARY
From: Megan L
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:13 AM

My uncle and male cousins would leave their small town outside Glasgow each year following the work. they worked at raising the fleet (The German ships that had been scuttled in Scapa Flow in the first world war) I remember them talking about building the Cruachan hydro station years later I visited it and had profound respect for these men and what they achieved. My uncles last year following the work had him building Dounreay from coal powered ships to nuclear power.

As an earlier poster the jambs were supposed to strengthen the shutter since the forces involved in pouring and tamping can be great. When Dauvit was teaching me to work the shutters (Thankfully on small projects) he always checked, double checked and was on constant alert while pouring for any sound or sight that would indicate a potential shutter failure.

There is one song about those men that brings a tear since I was sometimes there when my aunt read the letter, I guess that is why I always think of it as a woman's song.


KISS THE CHILDREN FOR ME MARY (The Exile Song)
(trad. MacColl/Seeger arr Corries)

Kiss the children for me Mary
Don't let them pine or grieve
Tell them it's hard I'm working for them
Though it breaks my heart to leave.

Don't forget hard the work
and long the day
I'll be thinking of you Mary
Though I'm many miles away

Kiss the children for me Mary
Don't let them pine or grieve
Tell them it's hard I'm working for them
Though it breaks my heart to leave.

Building dams ere fields and factories
Shifting mountains by the load
I'll be with you in November
When I'm finished on the road.

Kiss the children for me Mary
Don't let them pine or grieve
Tell them it's hard I'm working for them
Though it breaks my heart to leave.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:36 AM

Interesting thread, especially having some posters with family connections to the building of the hydro schemes and other projects.
There has always been a considerable Irish and Northern Irish workforce involved in any type of construction project, going back at least to the "navvies" (navigators) who built the British canal system. Later this term was applied to road-builders. And of course, many Scots, Irish and other nationalities went to the USA, Canada and the Antipodes in search of work.
The tune of Crooked Jack is the same as "Star of the County Down" and "Van Diemen's Land" ( Come all ye gallant poachers): I've no idea which song had the tune first, but no doubt, someone out there will know!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:43 AM

Actually it's ' navigationers ' ie. the men who built the navigations [ canals ] shortened to navvie's.


Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 07:52 AM

I seem to remember Billy Kay having a programme on BBC Scotland about the Irish workers on the "Mickey Dams", possibly early 80s ? The series was called "Odyssey", and there was a book with interview transcriptions printed after the programmes came out. It can still occasionally be found on "eBay", and is worth getting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 10:18 AM

The Mickey Dam was/is in Milngavie north of Glasgow and tells of the trials and exploits of an "honest Irish labouring man that came from the county Clare" that had to "sell his donkey and his faimous billy goat", and with the money he received "to Glasgow took the boat"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 01:42 PM

It's funny sometimes the things you remember. One of the Billy Kay programmes was called "From The Gorbals To Gweedore", and it was about the links between the Donegal Irish and Glasgow. I think it might have been that programme which mentioned the "Mickey Dams". I still have some excerpts from it on VHS video tape because it featured the Jackson brothers Billy and George {RIP}, from "Contraband" and "Ossian", visiting Gweedore where there family had originally come from, and having a session with Mairead Mooney of "Altan" and some of her relatives. I distinctly remember an interview with someone who had worked the "Mickey Dams", telling stories about some of the characters who had worked there - including "Two-Shift" Mulholland, and "The Hashie Dan", who competed against a mechanical digging machine, not unsurprisingly, unsuccessfully.
Apologies if this has strayed a bit far from the original post, but it's not entirely irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 05:47 PM

I think the first description of this to be made public was in Patrick MacGill's autobiographical novel "Children of the Dead End", which has a lot about the construction of the Kinlochleven smelter before WW1, mostly by Irish navvies. The conditions he describes were appalling.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 11:03 AM

Dave H: never heard of navigationers: maybe a regional thing? Several canal websites have them down as navigators or navigation engineers - the canals themselves being the "navigations".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,cjo'h 10 th Sept 2013
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 04:14 PM

Worked on the Shirra Dam back in 1953 We worked with guys from Scotland England Italy Northern Ireland Southern Ireland Poland.You name it.Everybody got along great,of course we didn't always understand what the other person was saying.The"shuttering jambs" were when the the shutters or concrete forms that held the concrete in place got stuck,you had to pry them loose with whatever means at your disposal.There were 4000 people on the job 2000 day shift and 2000 night shift,the job lasted 11 years.Some people made a lot of money and saved it others make a lot and spent it as soon as they got their hands on it,you know the story.Charlie....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 11 Sep 13 - 07:45 PM

Thanks for the reminisence, Mr. O'H.

How was the Shirra Dam job for safety? You might get hurt on ANY job site, but there's some where you know damn well that if you stick with it long enough you WILL get yourself damaged. Was the Shirra job one of those?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 01:06 PM

Please feel free to join " MEMORIES OF THE HYDRO DAMS AND TUNNELS " on Facebook .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,Guest Anne Neilson
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 01:40 PM

To those who mentioned the Mickey Dam in previous posts, this was a construction for waterworks in the north of Glasgow, in Milngavie (pronounced Milguy). To the best of my awareness this involved much more earth-moving to construct the reservoir area than actual concrete damming.

But I could be wrong! I'm basing this on occasional forays in that areas, when there's no visible evidence of a Hoover Dam-type erection!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,cjo'h
Date: 24 Jan 14 - 11:56 PM

Bob,I don't think the Shirra was any more dangerous to work on than any other job.Carmichael of Edinburgh was the GC.There was a safety meeting every Monday morning in the carpenter's shack,of course,what was said usually went in one ear and out the other,just like the Stewardess before takeoff.The young lady who wrote the Shirra Damm worked on the canteen truck or van which came in from Pitloughry with groceries (tea sugar some meats like steaks bacon eggs).That's where I learned to cook???? The Company(Carmichael)provided the cooked food in a mess hall(canteen) when we came down from the jobsite,if we thought we didn't like what they were serving,that's when we went back to the Nissan Huts where we slept,14 to 16 workers in each and 2 wood and coal stoves and cooked some of what we had bought from the Van from Pitloughry.The work huts Nissan Huts were used originally to house German POWs.There were about 4000 people working on the dam,2000 day shift and 2000 night shift,the busses that took us up in the morning,took back the night shift .I don't want to give too much information,could cause an overload.Besides,it's almost midnight on Friday January 24th.2014.over here in New Haven,Connecticut.Have to great year.Charlie....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Crooked Jack--Scottish Hydro Dams
From: GUEST,Cujimmy
Date: 25 Jan 14 - 06:34 PM

What a very very interesting thread. It just shows the value of folk music in keeping our social history alive, each contributer here has brought their own experiences and knowledge and given Bob a wealth of information to answer his question. This is why folk music is so interesting. Im saying this because too often I hear people referring to folk music in negative terms ie sad songs.


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