Apprentice Derek hits back

Derek Hinds
Derek Hinds

HE was the subject of pranks in his early years.

But Derek Hinds soon moved up in the world of the shipyard.

It was time for him to get his own back on the very people who’d had fun at his expense.

Today, we continue the story of the Hartlepool man who grew up in and around the William Gray shipyard.

“Mischief wasn’t usually far away with the apprentices and the tradesmen,” said Derek. “I used to wear a flat ‘Andy Capp’ hat on my head.

“The tradesman marker off grabbed my hat one day and threatened to drop it into the whitewash pot if I tried to make a grab for it. Anyway, I thought I could beat him, but I failed and my hat went into the whitewash.

“I retrieved my hat and went back to my own table vowing to get my own back. The tradesman went back to his job on the floor table, still laughing.

“I mixed up my pot of whitewash to a good consistency, then, I poured it into my now ruined hat.”

Derek sneaked up to the marker and dropped his hat into the whitewash pot.

He added: “I quickly put my old hat over his head then fled back to my table. Whitewash was streaming down his face, making his blonde hair even whiter.

“He was furious and threatened to get me again, but he never did.”

Soon, Derek moved away from the machine part of the shipyard and into the boilers shop. Yet, pranks were just as common in this part of the yard.

Derek explained: “I was caught one time inside a boiler when a boilermaker threw in a burning rag at the bottom of the boiler then stood at the top to stop us getting out.

“In another instance I was inside a small boiler shell, like an upturned bell, when someone struckit with a large hammer.

“I came out staggering like a ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoon, bells ringing in my ears. In fact it was that bad I had to have time off work to try and recover.”