After the end of the First World War, Jack Ford returns to his home town of Gallowshields on Tyneside. It is a time of economic depression, however Jack is not one to suffer. Newly elected as the District Secretary for the Fitter's Union he appoints his brother-in-law Matt Hedley as his deputy. There is an accident at the Lewis Bishop Shipyard and one of the fitters is badly hurt. Jack is in demand to speak up for Geordie Watson, the local Labour candidate in the forthcoming election. Union head office wants Jack to force Coalfax, the local employer, to allow the union into his factory, but Jack has split loyalties. Bella is taken ill. Jack steps down as Secretary for the union and everybody is upset about the potential demolition of the country house Mandrake Place.