Francis [Frank] John Bell – Harland & Wolff Apprenticeship


Life for a  young H & W [Harland & Wolff] apprentice like Francis [Frank] Bell was both exciting and demanding in its requirements and conditions in Autumn 1911.  I am unable to confirm if Frank was an ordinary or a  premium apprentice at H & W, but suspect it to be the latter.  Being a premium apprentice would be a ‘shipyard pupil’ whose parent  i.e. Joseph Bell, Chief Engineer on the Titanic at the time, would normally make a payment to H & W and Frank would  consequentially be indentured by them.

Some of the conditions of Indenture were not to damage or waste materials or goods belonging to H & W, neither was fornication, getting married, playing cards, dice, or any other unlawful games allowed.  Visits to taverns, alehouses or playhouses were also out of the question.

The apprentice was paid an initial first year income of 8 shillings a week, with an annual increase of 2 shillings per year if he had been a good lad until the indenture of five years was completed.  H & W were punctilious  about attending work, anyone not attending more than one day without permission was liable to dismissal or fine.  Lastly no liquor or  smoking on the premises – pretty hard going for ten bob a week, but with such assured futures for apprentices in the  H & W world of the period.

See the example of the certificate of Indenture of c.1912:

Indenture Harland & Wolff c.1912


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