Posted by: kbenoy | February 22, 2012

Adam Boulton & Co Ltd: Part Three – World War II

Adam Boulton & Co became a limited company in 1939. At this point, the structure of the business changed with the creation of Directors and Shareholders. The first Directors of Adam Boulton & Co Ltd were:

  • William Stewart Fairbairn
  • Mrs Ethel Marion Thornes
  • Robin Stanley Balfour
  • Reginald Stuart White
  • Frank Evans

    Minutes of the First Meeting of Directors, 1939

Frank Edwin Bayley was appointed as Secretary for the company and he remained in this role until 1955 when he retired having completing 46 years service for the company.

Operating during the Second World War caused problems and the company reported labour shortages impacting on the plans to improve the works at Randlay in 1941 [Minute 42]. There were also concerns about the possibility of the Government controlling brick prices and making calls on brick supplies [Minute 43]. Two of the Directors, Mr Fairbairn and Mr Balfour were called to H. M. Forces but it was decided to maintain their service as Directors and use proxy forms for any important decisions [Minute 48].

By 1942, prospects for the company were uncertain as it was reported that there was “much decreased demand for Bricks and Pipes throughout the West Midlands” [Minute 51]. In 1943 the Directors agreed to pay charitable subscriptions to the Hospital and “The British Clayworker’s ‘General Montgomery Bed’ Fund” [Minute 67].

The problems continued into 1944 when the Managing Director gave a full report to discuss “the present trading and manufacturing conditions in respect of lack of present demand for our goods and hold-up of production by the very wet weather experience for three to four weeks, and acute shortage of labour especially in the clay pit” [Minute 76].  It was decided that in the “event of temporary total or partial cessation of production being forced upon the Company, the period of stoppage should be utilized to put the works in order”.

Annual Report of Mr White - Minute 87 - 19 Nov 1945

By 1945 conditions had not improved but the annual report given by Mr White gives an insight into the struggle and determination of the company to maintain operations. He began his report by “particularly stressing the difficulties with regard to labour, difficulties which as yet had not in any way diminished. At the same time he expressed his appreciation of the loyal support of the office staff, foremen, and a number of old employees which had contributed to the results shown, an important one of which was that the works had continued in production all through the trying war years, whereas a large percentage of brickworks in the country had closed down.” [Minute 87].

Minutes Books

Adam Boulton & Co Ltd successfully managed their business through the Second World War but their experiences with labour shortages and price controlling would have been seen in manufacturing businesses across the country. Having the full set of Minute Books from 1939 when the company became incorporated to 1967 when the business closed and copies of Annual Accounts from 1922 – 1961 it is possible to understand and investigate the impact of the War at a local level.

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