Belfast Telegraph

Why amusing monikers were once the name of the game at shipyard

What do the nicknames Scoobie, Wee Huck, Whalebone, Blondie Craig, Malky Mo, Mad Millar and a thousand others mean to you?

Probably nothing at all, unless you are an old Harland & Wolff shipyard man, says veteran Sandy Rainey, who has been jotting down the ones he can remember from the heyday of H&W.

The welders and all the rest of the men who built the liners at the yard were quick to saddle their mates with nicknames that went along with their habits and characteristics.

"Some of the men who worked in the yard are still addressed by their nicknames to this day," said Sandy, "even though it could be 25 years since they last walked along that famous east Belfast shoreline."

I often wonder how a plater could get a nickname like The Cardinal or even The Shadow Boxer. Talking about launches, I remember a chairman of the yard, a certain John Mallabar, who rose to make a speech at the Champagne bottle-breaking ceremony in praise of one big liner and completely forgot its name.

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