Harland & Wolff Timekeeping Bourd
Fig. 4. Timekeeping Bourd close up

Harland & Wolff Timekeeping Bourd

Other White Star Line Vessels, 1900, Tom Rudderham Collection
A timekeeping bourd from the Pattern Stores Photo Room, Harland & Wolff, Belfast.

Timekeeping bourd’s (a local spelling from East Belfast, better known as a timekeeping board), were in use at the Harland & Wolff Belfast Shipyard between 1860 and 1970. During this hundred year period, the Time Office was responsible for up to four hundred workers and their “bourds”. These bourd’s were small pieces of hardwood, with two small shoulders cut into the smaller side. In-between was stamped the workman’s number.

A bourd was issued to each shipyard worker at the start of the day, and kept on their person while they worked. If any special equipment was required, the bourd would be given to the yard’s Storeman as a deposit. If the equipment was not returned, the bourd was held, and there were financial implications. At the end of the day, the bourd was returned to the Time Office and the day’s wage was calculated. Over time a phrase developed among the shipyard workers: “no bourd, no pay.”

One commonly held story is that at the end of each day, exiting workers would not take the time to hand each bourd back individually. Instead, they would throw them en-masse through small hatches in the Time Office window, narrowly missing cowering timekeepers inside.