Until the end of the Second World War, employment on Britain’s docks was largely casual. This paper outlines the development of the National Dock Labour Scheme, created in 1947 from the experience gained during the wartime operation of the docks, its progress and demise in the main Cornish ports. Cornish involvement is viewed as part of the national structure whilst the types of Cornish shipping involved and the Scheme’s local impact are also assessed.

Terry Chapman joined the Royal Navy from school as an apprentice. Retiring as a Commander after a full career, he read Contemporary History with English at University of Plymouth. He now maintains an amateur interest in researching, writing and speaking around his PhD thesis on the National Dock Labour Scheme in Cornwall awarded by the University of Exeter’s Institute of Cornish Studies.

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