British Manufacturing History

My exploration of the story of British Manfacturing

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I write blogs as my research progresses and so the earlier ones relate to my previous project Dunkirk to D Day, although they are linked. The men of whom I wrote had feet in both camps, they stepped up as soldiers in two world wars, but then pursued careers in British manufacturing. I wrote an article on Civilian Expertise in War published in the Historian, the magazine of The Historical Association.

The British Motor Industry and Semiconductors

Exploring the story of the motor industry since WW2, its forthcoming demise was never far from the conversation. Equally, digging into the history of semiconductor manufacturers, the possibility of the UK not being relatively self sufficient is an ever present agony. In the sixties, the Ryder report had this to say: ‘‘vehicle production is the…

Addressing obstacles to progress

Manchester mills were transporting tons of cotton goods to the port of Liverpool by canal, built by the Duke of Bridgewater, but which took some thirty-six hours and which was expensive. What was needed was a steam railway. George Stephenson planned the rail route to Liverpool, which included sixty-four bridges and viaducts along thirty-five miles…

The unexpected joys of research

One of the joys of researching in a conventional library is the unexpected. Today in Leicester University Library I came across A History of North Thames Gas – Mr Therm for those of us of a certain age. The book, and company, go back to its formation in 1810, through the massive switch over from…

The inventiveness of the British

David Egerton’s article, The battery factory that exposed the great Brexit lie, like his book The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: a Twentieth Century History, focuses on the performance of the British economy as a whole missing the detail of today’s manufacturing sector. I have spent the last seven years, so much less…

Whatever Happened to British Electronics Manufacturing

My work in progress is exploring the years since the Festival of Britain closed its doors to see how the hopes inherent in the festival were played out. The more I read, the more I reflect on the essence of British manufacturing. We were, we are, very clever. Talking to a member of the team…

BBC 100 – How it Happened

If you were one of the many radio hams who had taken advantage of the supply of surplus radio parts following the ending the war, you would have enjoyed the broadcasts by the Marconi Company from Chelmsford. In1922, you would have received the first broadcasts from the British Broadcasting Company. This had been formed by…

Morris enters the motor race

In 1893, William Morris set out on his career, first repairing bicycles. I know rather more about him than the other motor manufacturers, probably because of his later fame as Lord Nuffield. One by-product of this is an engaging biography of him written in 1955 by P.W.S. Andrews and Elizabeth Brunner which I think my…

Manufacturing and the Home

The seventy years between the Great Exhibition and the start of the Great War had seen great changes in the way many people worked and travelled. Yet, the way food and homewares were produced hadn’t changed a great deal. The local butcher, baker, grocer and green grocer supplied daily needs. A carpenter might make furniture,…

HM Queen Elizabeth II and Manufacturing

The Queen’s Award for Industry is perhaps the most visible evidence of Her Majesty’s interest in manufacturing. Somewhat earlier and a good while before her accession she showed a deep interest in the Festival of Britain. This is some of what Princess Elizabeth said to the organising committee: “I would therefore suggest to you, as…

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