End of an era

By Archibald Faulds

My late father was given some Paisley stories written by the late Archibald Faulds and I am sure he wouldn’t mind me sharing some of them. I think the majority of them are written circa 1968/69. I have left them as they were written by the author in the “first person”

On Friday 13 December the Saucel Iron Works of Millen Brothers, constructional engineers closes down and with it Paisleys last link with the sea. From this yard many small vessels, such as motor launches, tugs and barges, have set out on their journey by road to the Clyde, where they were either lowered into that river or lifted aboard ocean-going cargo ships to be taken to destinations all over the world.

You may have seen some of Millens boats, they were brought out of the yard on transporters – usually in the late evening – and towed slowly across Bridge Street on their way to Glasgow. When I visited the Millens work around 20 years ago in the late 40’s I saw a sturdy little tug almost ready to go out, it was one of three being built for river work in Russia.
Across Saucel Street in the main workshop men were hard at work welding some mysterious looking objects and I was given a pair of goggles to watch the process.

Although these shapeless things were being marked “Sugar Refinery Plant” I learned later that it was in fact part of a contract for an atomic power unit.

To round off this visit I was taken to the firms office where I saw a wonderful collection of photographs showing a wide variety of small craft – all built in the Saucel yard – being handled at the Glasgow docks. Some of the Millens boats were sent away in sections, and shipped overseas to be assembled at or near the places that were to become their home port.

When I looked in at the Saucel yard on 1 December all I could see was Millens own motor launch the ‘Vanduara’ sitting high on its cradle.

This boat had been used for sailing in the Firth of Clyde, but was laid up last spring and has now to be sold.  Perhaps the biggest blow of all was the final decision to close Fleming and Fergusons the dredger specialists – whose fate had been in the balance for some time.  The workers affected by this closure could not get similar work in this town so they had to travel further afield or take up a new occupation.