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Factories in World War 2

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#1 Sandi



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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:47 PM

I'm rewriting my latest book (a sort-of, but not-quite sequel to The Secret Shelter) for the third time, and I'm getting mighty sick of living in World War 2, I can tell you! :) Does anyone have any info on factories etc in the Penge area in circa 1943? Any places that would be interesting for my character (a 16 year old girl) to work in? Many thanks.

#2 ajames



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Posted 29 December 2005 - 12:04 PM

Not quite Penge but Dad remembers there was a factory making telephones in West Dulwich. I'll ask him what it was called. It's now offices/studios: Parkhall Road Trading Estate run by www.workspacegroup.co.uk.

#3 Chris Doran

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 12:42 AM

It's fairly difficult to answer this, as there don't seem to be any local street directories between 1939 and the 1950s. Here is a list of a few firms I've spotted in the 1939 Kelly's, but I can't say whether they all continued during the war or whether they were any more than one man and dog firms calling themselves "manufacturers" to look good:-

Eric C Stone, wardrobe manufacturer, 114 Avenue Rd. ["Wardrobe" could mean that he either made clothes or cupboards, but I assume the latter as there was a builder at the same address.]
The Penge Shirt Manufacturing Co Ltd, 127/129 Avenue Rd.
Rose Bros, sheet metal workers, next to 65 Cambridge Rd.
L & P Lead Works Ltd, lead manufacturers, 36/38 Hawthorn Grove.
British Button Industries Co Ltd, button manufacturers, 48 Maple Rd. (I know this one survived the war. I think I saw a history of it somewhere.)
W Jones & Co, Telecommunications Manufacturers, 36 Newlands Pk. (Also survived the war.)
Lawson & Co, soap powder manufacturers, 18 Oakfield Rd.
Alfred Davis, umbrella manufacturer, 81 Woodbine Grove.
William Poustie, joinery manufacturer (Grove Joinery Works), r/o 116 Woodbine Grove.
Plus lots of dairies, bakeries, delivery firms, builders, ...

Additionally, as I said last time you asked, there were a couple of wartime enterprises in the Crystal Palace grounds, and maybe other things cloaked in secrecy:-

Baird's company produced cathode ray tubes for radar, and photoelectric detectors in what, from my informant's description of where she worked was probably the one-time Panorama building. Sadly, she died last year before getting around to showing me the book she was given about the factory. I asked her relatives clearing her house to keep a look out for it, but heard nothing.

There was also the vehicle recycling works on the CP terrace run entirely by women as far as can be seen in the 1943 British Pathé film clip at the British Pathé newsreel archive. Put "crystal palace car dump" in the Search box.

The report of the parachute mine that demolished St Christopher's kindergarten at the junction of Cator and Lennard Roads mentions two factories being damaged, but I've yet to discover what or where they were. Probably they were fairly small.

To find a large firm, your character may have to go outside Penge to one of the industrial estates at Elmers End (Muirhead's, Twinlocks, etc.), Churchfields Road, or Kangley Bridge Road, Sydenham, where Lewis Blake's book, "Red Alert", describes Columbia Ribbons and one of Baird's factories next door being bombed.

I've looked at the wartime Sits Vac pages of the Beckenham Journal, but factory workers are only asked for rarely, and with box numbers for replies. Most adverts, even from companies I know were doing war work, are for only office staff, delivery drivers and the like. I guess that either they didn't want to advertise the presence of industry in the area, or the allegedly well-paid production workers' jobs were filled by word of mouth. I have an unfounded conspiracy theory that office workers adverts were just a front, and anyone who applied got shown the more lucrative production line jobs, or quickly discovered them once they started work. You could certainly weave an episode about your character going in for an office assistant's job and coming out an apprentice munitions worker.

In the spring of 1945, when it was reckoned safe to do so, Beckenham Journal published a series of articles about local factories' war work, but as you'd expect from its name, they're not in Penge (I don't have easy access to Penge newspapers):-

Dowsing Co, Kangley Bridge Rd, made electrically heated clothing for airmen.

Small Electric Motors, Churchfields Rd and various other places, including Penge, produced motors for all sorts of military equipment, though the newspaper article isn't very specific, except to mention aircraft fans, searchlight elevators, and anti-submarine equipment (which they had also made in WW1).

Aerograph, Kangley Bridge Rd, produced paint spray guns for camoflaging.

J B Pillins, Church Hill, Beckenham, made hydraulic jacks for bomb bay doors in Lancasters.

Percy Jones (Twinlocks), Elmers End, converted their office stationery machinery to make detonators and also lead-bound code books.

HNT Motors, Beckenham High St, converted their car repair business and employed women workers to make detonators and fuses.

#4 Sandi



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Posted 12 January 2006 - 10:52 AM

Thanks, Chris! You're an angel.

Thanks for reminding me about the car wreckers. I looked for the old thread before I posted this query, but it was gone. And the rest of your info is fantastic. Thanks so much!

#5 James



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Posted 12 January 2006 - 11:42 AM

Perhaps it is in the History Topic Archives...

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#6 royalbet


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Posted 06 July 2006 - 09:51 PM

Not quite Penge but Dad remembers there was a factory making telephones in West Dulwich. I'll ask him what it was called. It's now offices/studios: Parkhall Road Trading Estate run by www.workspacegroup.co.uk.


#7 jaw



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Posted 07 July 2006 - 11:28 AM

T M C , actual Telephone Manufacturing Company,

#8 Sandi



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Posted 09 July 2006 - 01:13 AM

T M C , actual Telephone Manufacturing Company,

Didn't they have creative company names? :)

#9 malcolmjanes



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Posted 13 November 2007 - 08:55 PM

Telephone Manufacturing Company, Triton Road, a road running parallel to Carnac Street and off Clive Road. I think it was tecnically West Dulwich, SE21.