Nuffield Study - Report Part 2 - Engineering Light Mechanical Industries
Posted by on January 01 1970 00:02:10

Significant increases are shown in Engineering, Light Mechanical Industries and Government Service.

The rise in the first named in chiefly associated with the migration of Hoffman's Ltd of Chelmsford. The firm is situated in Stonehouse, about 5 miles beyond Stroud. It is a newcomer to the district, and is chiefly employed in the manufacture of Ball and Roller Bearings and steel balls and rollers. The firm intend remaining in the area, and have built a well-equipped, up to date factory. The present employment is 1120, of which two-thirds are women. Of these, roughly 250 live in Stroud. The remainder comes from surrounding villages. The chief means of transport is the bicycle, although after much effort, a few special buses have been provided.

Mr Parrett (Manager), maintained that the bulk of his labour has been recruited from women who normally do not take on paid work. On his arrival in the district he was informed by the Labour Exchange that there was no available supply left. He contended that he would find labour. He started up a youth club, got in touch with the parents through the young people, got on friendly relations with the local inhabitants, and invited young women to undertake war work in the factory. In this way, the present total has been gradually built up. He is prepared to take all types and ages if they can be made capable of doing any job. He joined the Stroud Industries Association, composed of local employers, and co-operative with them in fixing wage rates. In this respect he criticised Sperry's for stopping up wages so as to attract labour from local firms.

Housing He considered the present provision adequate. The firm had built 250 houses themselves, persuaded local builders to build a further 250.

He was satisfied with the supply of local Public Services, but thought the strain on the drainage system had reached its limit.

Power. They get their power from the Grid , which meets their requirementsw and transport for the disposal of producets is good, the factory being situated on the main GWR and LMS lines.

Water The local canal meets requirements and affords facilities for effluence.

Evacuees He anticipated that evacuees employed by the firm would return to their own areas after the war; but those, if necessary, could be replaced by labour from Chelmsford, the head-quarters of the firm.

Post-war He maintained that Sperry's would not remain; (a view that was confirmed by Sperry's own manager at a subsequent interview). It was also assumed that the RAF and RN would leave the neighbourhood, in which case there should be an ample supply of labour and other facilities.

He did not anticipate any fall in the demand for their products, since they could quickly switch over from tanks, aeroplane engines and war products to peace products such as motor cars, printing machines, box making machinery, rolling machines etc. He anticipated a revival of export trade after the war, and contended that they could adapt their plant to meet a very wide range of products, should a demand for such arise. Further the fact they had recruited much of their labour amongst those who had not previously followed a gainful occupation should render the problem of post-war adjustment easier as they have not attracted labour away form the pre-war firms.


The expansion in Light Mechanical Industries is due to the coming of Sperry's Gyroscope Co of Brentford – Scientific Instrument Makers – who set up a dispersal factory by taking over some old mill premises at Stonehouse quite near to Hoffman's Ltd. They employ over 1500 persons, more than half of which are men.

In the course of an interview, Mr Hillier, the Managing Director stated that the firm acquired these premises in January 1939 as an emergency measure. It was not their intention to remian after the war as they did not think the premises suitable, and they had a well equiped modern factory at Brentford on the Great West Road. They had obtained most of their labour through the Ministry, but were obliged to take a smaller proportion of skilled men because of the prevailing shortage. Lack of transport facilities had increased the labour difficulty, since they could only obtain 8 local buses to collect and deposit workers from outlying districts. They are actually employing workers from Swindon, who are transported daily by bus. This interferes frequently with overtime, since theyse workers are unable to work beyond the scheduled bus time. The position had been partly eased by the erection of houses locally for the accommodation of 200 families and a hostel with single quarters for a further 300.

He was satisfied with existing facilities for the supply of water and electricity but considered drainage was bad and the gas main from Cheltenham must to vulnerable against bombing attacks.

The bulk of their products were despatched by road. He was satisfied with existing transport facilities for material. The night shift was much smaller than the day shift, partly for the reasons given above regarding labour transport facilities.


The mushroom growth of Government Service is mainly accounted for by the transfer of RAF Accounts Section (employing 898), and Admiralty Stores (employing 444) to this region, making a total of 1342.

The number of Local Government employees has not changed much, altough men have been substitued by women to some extent.


As regards Building and Contracting, this rise is concentrated in 1941-42 under public works contracting, so that with the completion of existing building schemes, this labour will be withdrawn

Link to Part 3