Looking Back at Our City's Rich History - Every Saturday and Tuesday; HOW WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE WORKPLACE CHANGED FOR GOOD AFTER WORLD WAR II Changing Roles for Women

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), January 11, 2020 | Go to article overview

Looking Back at Our City's Rich History - Every Saturday and Tuesday; HOW WOMEN'S ROLE IN THE WORKPLACE CHANGED FOR GOOD AFTER WORLD WAR II Changing Roles for Women


AREVEALING series of photos from the ECHO archive gives a fascinating insight into women at work on Merseyside in the late 1940s and 1950s.

The images range from assembling engines at the Napier plant to hand working leather at Speke, from sorting cigarettes on a production line to making light meters at Prescot.

It was a time when thousands of women were demobilised from what was termed "men's work", to make way for returning troops from World War II.

The pattern had been the same after the First World War, but this time there was an essential difference. The massive home reconstruction effort needed a bigger labour force - and it needed it quickly.

Not only that, unlike the 1920s, the late 1940s and '50s were a time of economic growth. Products were being launched and assembly lines were busy.

The Government actively encouraged women to stay at work or take new jobs. Workers from former British colonies were also invited to the UK.

As a result, the proportion of women of working age in the labour force grew from just under 46%, in 1955, to 51%, in 1965.

The rise of the National Health Service created jobs for nurses, midwives, clerical and cleaning staff.

Light industries also expanded, particularly electronics and assembly work. Evidence of this growth could be seen at the British Insulated Callender's Cables works, in Prescot. Lines of women were busy making Turn to Page 24 Continued from Page 23 electric light meters in January, 1946, in the main picture above.

BICC was formed in 1945 as a result of a merger which included the former British Insulated Wire Company, at Prescot. The plant was eventually closed in 1991.

Women welders were busy turning out much-needed steel drums and containers at the Merseyside factory of EA Brough and Company, in 1946. Founded in 1908, the firm employed 400 people by 1960.

The print industry was also at full stretch in Liverpool in the late 1940s, as our image (on Page 23) from the Eric Bemrose printing works in Long Lane, Aintree, clearly demonstrates. The leather works at Speke had also geared up for postwar production. …

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