Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

My first job - Scottish nostalgia


Irene Lebeter recalls working in the offices of a Cambuslang steelworks in the Fifties.

‘Don’t be silly, they will teach you.’ I can still hear these words my mother said to me at the breakfast table that morning in April 1957.

Having left school a week earlier, following my fifteenth birthday, I’d been really excited to be employed as a typist in the offices of Colville’s Steelworks in Cambuslang. Now here I was blubbering over my cereal on the morning I was due to start.

My mother’s words were in answer to my fear that I would have to relieve the telephonist on the switchboard during her lunch hour. I was crying because I didn’t know how to operate the 5 outside line, 50 extension board. In the event my mother was correct; I was trained for the switchboard and I quickly fell into these duties without difficulty. I also enjoyed working in the typing pool. The firm was like a large, extended family and I made lots of friends among my colleagues; one of whom, Sandra, is still a close friend over fifty years later.

But one particular event from my employment there stands out in my memory. I was dredging through the filing cabinet one day, having difficulty in locating an important document which my boss needed by two o’clock. In the midst of my feverish search a much older male colleague, who came in from the next door office, asked me, ‘Do you want a hand, love?’

‘Oh, yes please, I can’t find the contract anywhere,’ I said, thinking how kind it was of him to help me look for the elusive document.

Something brushed against my bare arm and my scream that followed reverberated around the room and out into the corridor. My helper was standing at my side holding out his artificial hand, a large metal hook sticking out of his wrist where the hand had been.

When I looked round, some colleagues were grouped around the office door, doubled up with laughing at the expression on my face. Only then did I discover that this male colleague had lost his hand in a milling machine accident many years previously and the company had given him an office job.

Of course I then joined in the laughter and was comforted to know that I wasn’t the first to be the butt of his joke as he caught all the firm’s newcomers in the same way. With the passage of time I don’t actually remember locating the document but I guess I must have done as I wasn’t sacked but went on to work for another eight years with the company.

Back to "Nostalgia" Category

14/11/2016 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Inventor and engineer James Watt was born - On this day in history

James Watt, inventor of the condensor, which helped make the Industrial Revolution possible, was born on 19 ...

Sir John Pringle died - On this day in Scottish history

Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society and physician to King George III, died on 18 January 1782. ...

The Duddingston Curling Society was founded - On this day in history

On 17 January 1795, the Duddingston Curling Society became the first formally organised curling club in the ...

Restored Mary Queen of Scots statue to take pride of place in Linlithgow in time for Month of MQS

A much-loved statue of Mary Queen of Scots has been restored and will be on display at Linlithgow Museum, as ...

Other Articles

Caithness novelist Neil Gunn died - On this day in history

Scottish novelist Neil M Gunn, author of The Silver Darlings, died on 15 January 1973. ...

Greyfriars Bobby died - On this day in history

Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful terrier said to have kept vigil at his master's grave for fourteen years, died ...

New two-year academic research project will explore how the legend of Mary Queen of Scots has impacted society and culture

More than forty international academics and curators are to join a project led by the University of Glasgow, ...

Seven history books we can’t wait to read in 2019

The coming year looks set to be a great one for history publishing. Here, we present seven books we’re ...