ON Friday of last week I stood outside the two nuclear power stations at Hunterston A and B to witness the final burst of steam as Hunterston B was closed down. It was a bitter sweet moment for me for the following reasons.

Between 1963 and 1963 I was employed by Simon Carves as a mechanical fitter. Although I was only aged 21 to 24 at that time, I served as the lead shop steward for several hundred employees. In those far-off days, before the Labour Government under Harold Wilson introduced the Employment Protection Act of 1975 , shop stewards were hunted down like mad dogs. As I used to say, when you are hunted down like a mad dog you become a mad dog.

In due course I was paid off in mid-1963, way out of turn. I tried to get a position as a mechanical fitter with at the new nuclear power station, but despite my previous excellent apprenticeship practical training at the former Ardrossan Dockyard and with Simon Carves, to say nothing of very good technical qualifications, I was not accepted.

At my interview I was heavily questioned on my shop steward experience with Simon Carves.

After further work experience between 1963 and 1965 at Sizewell and Dungeness A power stations, where I also served as a shop steward, I formed my own company, William McCrindle and Son Ltd, on April 26, 1966, with a capital of £10.

Fast forward to 1978: my company was selected to carry out the repair of one of the advanced cooled reactors at Hunterston B, following an ingress of 8,000 litres of sea water. The contract involved around 200 men on a full 24-hour, seven-day shift working. The reactor was returned to power in February 1980 and operated successfully thereafter ever since.

Because of my previous training as a shop steward and my excellent relationship with the local Clydeside full-time trade union organisers, the SSEB inserted a clause in my sea-water ingress contract that I could not leave the country for any more than two weeks without their permission.

Changed days from 1963 when I was not suitable to them as a mere mechanical fitter. Of course, I accepted the clause as it appealed to my ego. At 82, I am still in business as a property developer, so I have outlasted the working life of the two power stations at Hunterston which meant so much to me and my career .

WR McCrindle MBE, Chairman, McCrindle Group Ltd, West Kilbride.




READING Susan Swarbrick’s article on Saturday, then Gordon Fisher’s reminiscences (letters, January 10) brought to mind my own Kelvin Hall experiences.

In 1962, as an apprentice painter and decorator, I was working on preparation for the Ideal Homes Show and my boss Mr Harrison, of Samuel Craig & Co, put me to wallpapering a showhouse.

This caused great upset amongst all tradesmen in the hall, who thought it inappropriate for a first-year apprentice to be wallpapering and therefore, in their opinion, “taking a job away from a tradesman”.

A union meeting was held and Mr Harrison defended his position by stating that this was a legitimate part of my training. Common sense prevailed, a vote was taken, and it was back to the paste table for me.

Coincidentally, at the same event one of our tradesmen, Matt Byrne, decided to make use of the bathroom in a showhouse since he lived in a single end and had no bath or shower.

So it was something of a shock to the two police officers who were completing a search of the house, prior to it being visited by Princess Margaret, to find Matt towelling himself down with a clean dust sheet!

Brendan J Keenan, Glasgow.




IT is absolutely fantastic to see the Herald’s partnership with the New York Times.

Something that Scottish newspapers have cut back on in recent years, and (in my view) suffered from, is a lack of international news coverage and opinion.

The one standout has been the Herald’s David Pratt, but he has often seemed like a lone voice, and cannot realistically be expected to provide first-hand accounts from different parts of the world at the same time.

The partnership with the New York Times enables a much wider depth and breadth of international opinion and coverage. Indeed, as well as subscribing to the Herald, I subscribe to the New York Time’s online site to obtain international news, and it is great to now see a partnership between my two favourite newspapers.

Reading Saturday’s edition of the Herald was a wonderful experience, with thoughtful coverage from around the world, as well as excellent coverage from across Scotland. Long may your partnership with the New York Times continue.

Peter Clark, Tornagrain, Inverness.



IN setting out her grand design for the people of Scotland, Maggie Chetty (“A national convention could be a first step towards Scots finding their old courage”, letters, January 10) seems to have forgotten a few things.

The first is that the agreement of both of Scotland’s parliaments of a Section 30 Order In Council to transfer the powers to hold a referendum on independence is not a “doomed idea” but a legal requirement.

It was put into legislation with the full support of Scottish MPs and was not contested either before the 2014 referendum or by the Smith Commission, which was happily endorsed by all of the Holyrood parties.

But most of all she seems to have forgotten that the majority of us don’t want independence. Indeed, Ms Chetty is like one of the former communist dictators of the Warsaw Pact in ignoring the will of the people while purporting to be their tribune.

She has clearly lost confidence in the Scottish people: to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht in 1953, maybe she is seeking to dissolve it and hoping to find another one.

Peter A Russell, Jordanhill, Glasgow.

I THOUGHT Ms Chetty’s idealistic plan had some things to commend it, but does anyone think for one moment that our politicians and their more outspoken followers would be able to put aside their lifelong mutual antipathies and work together for the common good?

Sooner or later, most coalitions break up amidst acrimony or, at the very least, frustration and inertia.

M. Harper, Glasgow.