2-8 March 1915: How the war affected local business

The work of the Central (Unemployed) Committee has been mentioned before, as has the effect on the war on local businesses.  The letter books of the Committee stop at the end of March 1915 – meaning that, although the Town Clerk may have continued to chart the detrimental impact on the area, we hold no records which directly note the figures.

On 5th March the Town Clerk wrote his regular Battersea Businesses report – the letter book is a carbon copy, so only picks up what he wrote, not what we assume was the standard typed form he was filling in.  The report covers whether or not staff were working full-time and if any dismissals had been made.

Two businesses were clearly doing their best to work to normal capacity.  Gartons Glucose Works had lost about 100 men who had signed up to fight, all the vacancies had been filled as far as possible and staff were working full time.  A wholesale furniture works on York Road reported that all staff were full-time and there had been no dismissals.  The Asbestos Patent Firelight Co, based in Battersea Square, actually had a shortage of men – despite noting difficulties in getting hold of raw material, they reported no dismissals and that all were working full-time.  May & Baker, a chemical manufacturing company, may well also have been having difficulties getting hold of material, but they didn’t report it and were also working full-time.

Two of the companies reporting were definitely suffering as a result of the war.  The John Bull Laundry on Gideon Road, one of many laundries around Battersea, had kept on all their staff but at ¾ time and were reporting a 30% drop in business.  The Easey Wallpaper Manufacturing Company were also working at ¾ time, although their business had dropped by 50%.  Men who joined the army were not being replaced, the numbers joining are not noted and it is difficult to establish how big an enterprise this was.

Much of the rest of the letter book records trying to find places for individuals, so there will be another post about employment problems next week.

Central (Unemployed) Committee letter book, ref: MBB/8/3/3

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