THE shipyard photograph here is one of the best-known images in the Herald and Times archive.

It shows workers gleefully dashing from the Barclay, Curle yard in Glasgow in 1955. In the background is a troopship, Nevasa, which was being built for the British India Steam Navigation Company.

The picture seems straightforward, but Arnold Kemp, a former editor of this newspaper, had an interesting take on it in March 1990. It prompted, he said, a number of reflections.

“For a start, we may assume that the caption attached to the print by the librarian of the day was not exactly accurate. It says, somewhat naively, that the men were rushing ‘home for their tea’. Their pleasure at their release suggests that for some at least other pursuits were in mind”.

The Herald’s eventual report of the Nevasa’s launch, in late November 1955, provoked a more serious comment, he added.

The Minister of Transport, John Boyd-Carpenter, could not be present because of “pressure of work’’ (the Nevasa was launched by his wife), but his speech was read by James Gilchrist, chairman of the Clyde firm. In it he said: "It does not appear to me that in present social conditions in this country there need not be the fear of men working themselves out of a job, and therefore still adhering to practices which may have applied in the past but certainly do not today”.

Observes Mr Kemp: “It is a matter for historical argument as to whether rigid labour practices, management failure, a lack of investment, or irreversible international trends all but destroyed shipbuilding on the Clyde.

"The point is that our photograph gives absolutely no hint of such troubles to come. It eloquently and simply catches the pleasure of men living in the present and the immediate future”.

Read more: Herald Diary