A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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20th February 1942 .

Recorded Talks to Workers in Industry .

1. The following summary is based on special reports obtained from 65 factories as to whether talks on the problems of the industrial worker would be welcomed if recorded and relayed in works or works canteens through works loud-speaker systems.

2. The managements of 16 factories -

Addressograph-Multigraph (Cricklewood)

Berry's Electric Ltd. (Wembley)

Brillo Mfg. Co. Ltd. (North Circular Road)

Bristol's Instrument Co. (N.W.10)

Brookside Metal Co. Ltd. (Stanmore)

Bronnley & Co. Ltd. (Acton)

Geo. Cohen, Sons, Co. Ltd. (Park Royal and Wood Lane)

Dubilier Condenser Co. Ltd. (North Acton)

G.E.C. [Coldair] (Wembley)

Horlick's Ltd. (Slough)

Park Ward & Co. Ltd. (Willesden)

Romac Industries Ltd. (Hendon)

Standard Motor Co. Ltd. (Park Royal)

Henry Telfer Ltd. (Hammersmith)

Wagner & Brandon Ltd. (Tottenham)

Western Margarine Ltd. (Western Avenue)

were in favour, and equipped to use such talks. They pointed out, however, that if talks were relayed during working hours production would be adversely affected, as workers would be unable to concentrate on their jobs.

It was generally felt that talks, lasting not more than five minutes, should be given just before the one o'clock news, when “service” noise and the meal in the canteen are more or less over. “They should be done in ‘Mr. Middleton's style’, and leave no room for query in listeners' minds.”

Subjects suggested were:

Income Tax

Quicker Turnround

Shopping difficulties of women workers, and Absenteeism when husbands or other relatives are home on leave.

It was also thought that a programme to cover, for example, “the whole industry, from mining to production of the finished metal which the worker handles” would be valuable. “This would help factory workers to realise some of the difficulties of supply and the necessity for good team-work.”

M.O.I. speakers were praised by several factories, who found actual speakers more successful than relayed talks, and indirect propaganda more effective than “propaganda” which is objected to.

3. 16 managements considered that broadcast talks on the lines of John Hilton's recent Income Tax broadcast would be helpful if given after (or just before) the 9 p.m. News, when they would not be connected with the management, and would, consequently, be more readily listened to. They might be announced during the lunch hour as talks on problems of special interest to workers.

Other managements would prefer working-class speakers. (Apparently Hilton's popularity has declined since the Income Tax broadcast. He has been accused of “talking down to the workers and of not really knowing their point of view”.) A representative of the Institute of Labour Management (Aldwych House, W.C.2) also considers that workers should have an opportunity of expressing their opinions. “Too much talking ‘at’ workers, which is fatal, is being done already.”

4. The following 47 factories were against, or would be unable to use such talks:

Acton Bolt & Fine Threads Ltd. (Park Royal)

Air Ducts Ltd. (Gt. West Road)

Allan Taylor [Motors] Ltd. (Wandsworth)

Elizabeth Arden Ltd. (Acton)

Beethoven Electric Equipment Ltd. (Park Royal)

Bradbury Agnew & Co. Ltd. (Mount Pleasant)

The British Oxygen Co. (Wembley)

Brown Bros., Aircraft (Greenford)

Bryce, White & Co. Ltd. (Slough)

Callard & Bowser Ltd. (Western Avenue)

Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. Preserve & Pickle Works (Acton)

Chrysler Motors Ltd. (Kew)

The Distillers Co. Ltd. (Hammersmith)

Gas Light & Coke Co. Ltd. (Willesden)

Gillette Industries Ltd. (Isleworth)

The Gramophone Co. Ltd. (Hayes)

The de Havilland Aircraft Ltd. (Edgware)

Hawker Aircraft Ltd. (Perivale)

Hoover Ltd. (Perivale)

John Kidd & Co. Ltd., (Bow)

Kingston Partners, Ltd. [Castle Laundry] (Wandsworth)

Chas. P. Kinnell & Co. Ltd. (Southwark)

Lamson Engineering Co. Ltd. (Willesden)

Lathom & Co. Ltd. (Hackney)

Locke Lancaster & W.W. Johnson & Sons Ltd. (Millwall)

London Co-operative Co. Ltd. [Dairy Dept.] (Manor Park)

Metropolitan Dyers & Cleaners Ltd. (Southfields)

Modern Machine Tools (Park Royal)

National Cash Register Ltd. (Marylebone)

National Stone & Granite Paving Co. Ltd. (Wembley)

Norton & Gregory Ltd. (Westminster)

Ormond Engineering Co. (Islington)

Pakcel Ltd. (Hammersmith)

Presswork Products (Park Royal)

The Pyrene Co. Ltd. (Great West Road)

A. Rowland & Sons Ltd. (E.C.1.)

L.A. Rumbold & Co. Ltd. (Kilburn)

S. Smith & Sons [Motor Accessories] (Cricklewood)

Standard Telephones & Cables Ltd. (North Woolwich)

Strachan's Successors Ltd. (North Acton)

Ministry of Supply Depot (Isleworth)

Trico-Folberth Ltd. (Great West Road)

The Vacuum Brake Co. Ltd. (Westminster)

Vauxhall Motors Ltd. (N.W.9)

Wreschner Ltd. (Edmonton)

A. Wright & Co. Ltd. (S.W.1.)

Wyndham Hewitt's Ltd. (Lagonda Works, Staines)

Some of these factories are not wired for sound, or have wireless but not gramophone dissemination. Other managements said that their works were too noisy for talks (ENSA concerts had to be discontinued), or that workers found music less distracting. Where the lunch break was already short, it was felt that talks would be resented. (One report added that “no amount of talking will make people work better than they do now under the Bonus system”.)

An industrial welfare society representative considered that workers already had too many people wanting to address them during their lunch hour. That workers were too tired to appreciate talks was another opinion.

A shop foreman felt that such talks “would raise fresh grievances in the minds of workers who are already ‘spoon-fed’”.


Of 65 factories visited, 16 (i.e. 1 factory in 4) reacted favourably to the idea of recorded talks to the industrial workers concerning their special problems. These 16 unanimously disapproved of such talks being given during working hours.

It was widely felt that evening broadcasts during some evening period, preferably after the 9 o'clock news, would be far more effective than during the lunch-break. The worker inevitably connects with the management anything especially directed at him while he is at the factory.

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