Unemployment in the Witham area,
1921 to 1936
A difficult year. Continued collapse of post-war boom. Miners’ strike in May so coal shortage. But still lots of windows sold. (ERO T/Z 67, page 112).
UDC Finance Committee, 29 August 1921, page 113
Wages of Council’s workmen to be reduced 4s 6d in accordance with the Agricultural Wages Board Table.
UDC Finance Committee, 19 December 1921, page 125
Resolved wages of Councils employees be reduced by 1d. per hour.
End of 1921 Crittall’s
Sackings, because of shortage of work, and taking on again Feb 1922. At first often just 3 days a week, when needed during building season, summer. Couldn’t afford to build up stock at first. But then build up thereafter of overseas orders.
Unemployment rose from already high figure of ¾ million to about 2 million at end of 1921 (ERO T/Z 67, page 112)
UDC Finance Committee, 27 February 1922, page 130
Mr W Taber drew attention to fact agricultural labourers’ wages now being paid at 7½d per hour and he proposed council’s workmen should be paid the same. Seconded by Mr Wakelin. Amendment by Mr E Smith, seconded by Captain Abrey, that men be pd 8d an hour for a 51 hour week. Amendment lost. Further amendment Mr Pelly and Mr Richardson, wages be 32s a week for a 50 hour week for one month. Lost. Original proposal also lost. Consider at next meeting.
UDC Finance Committee, 27 November 1922, page 180
Mr W Taber said wages of Agricultural labourers had now been reduced to 6½d. an hour and suggested Council employees wages should be reduced by 1d an hour. Mr C Barber had written asking for an increase.
Proposed Mr C S Richardson and seconded Mr W Pinkham that wages of Council’s employees be reduced by ½d per hour. Three for and three against, chair casting vote for it [i.e. J E Smith]
Proposed by Mr E Smith and seconded Mr W Pinkham that wages of Mr C Barber be not subject to reduction.
UDC Roads Committee, 28 April 1923, page 210
‘The question of finding employment for the unemployed was fully considered. The Surveyor was directed to discharge as many of the unemployed now working for the Council as possible on 5 May’ [sic- can’t see why this will help ! JG] Adopted
Beginning of new phase of house building with government help for Local Authority schemes. Also lots of prestigious offices, department stores etc. Great increase in Crittall’s production. Total employees rose from 1,000 in 1919 to just under 2,000. Only 400 of them, excluding staff were at Witham, but production there a higher proportion because of efficiency. Public issue of shares (ERO T/Z 67, pages 113, 119, 127).
Witham turned out 1,500 windows a day, one third of Company output. Up to 53% by 1929 (ERO T/Z 67, page 234)
Witham factory increased to double the previous size (ERO T/Z 67, page 233).
Collective piece work introduced (ERO T/Z 67, pages 145-47). Witham main shop extended to bring five acres under one roof (ERO T/Z 67, page 233).
Production four times that of 1924 (ERO T/Z 67, page 234).
1929, 6 May, Log book of National Boys School (ERO E/ML 73/3) ‘The child population is declining here owing to reductions of staff at Messrs Crittalls’]
September 1929, Crittall’s
New economies with re-arrangement of management.
28 Oct 1929 = Black Friday, collapse of New York Stock exchange.
October 1929 onwards, Crittall’s
World financial crash and beginning of five years problems for Crittall with Depression. Some discharged, put on short time, and wages falling below supposed minimum of piece work system. Short strike at Braintree and other ‘small sectional disputes from time to time’. (ERO T/Z 67, page 147)
Braintree and Witham Times, 27 December 1929, page 2
Leading article. Review of year. General Election gave Labour chance. Power shaken by disruption and narrow majority re Coal Bill. ‘The numerous financial crashes, the outpouring of gold to America … Floods.. Likely increase in taxation. From brightness into gloom’. District has progressed rapidly including building houses.
UDC, December 1929, in Braintree and Witham Times, 3 January 1930, page 3
‘A circular from the Unemployment Grants Committee was laid before the Council, pointing out the different grants’ for public utility schemes. Resolved both a ‘Town Planning Scheme’ and laying of sewer and water mains be considered. Committee to visit area and make recommendations, to take advantage of grants.
Number employed doubled since 1924, mechanical power per employee three times as great. But still only 20% of country’s houses had metal windows (ERO T/Z 67, page 234)
Quite good year because of economies made in 1929. Other new companies competing, though. And building abandoned[?] by Government and LAs, making problems, total amount of building cut by about a third. Also bankrupticies. Building largest employer, so added to unemployment (ERO T/Z 67, pages 247-248)
Braintree and Witham Times, 3 January 1930, page 2
‘Stroller’ (author). Xmas slump. Money scarce.
Braintree and Witham Times, 17 January 1930, page 2
Debate at Silver End about the year 1929. Mr Cuthbe said why it was good under Labour even though unemployment still as high as under Conservatives.
Braintree and Witham Times, 11 April 1930, page 3
Unemployment in GB increased again.
Braintree and Witham Times, 18 July 1930, page 5
Good news. Crittall’s factories very busy. Pressure at Witham, working all Sat and Sun last weekend and night shifts.
UDC, August 1930, in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 August 1930, page 3
Unemployment schemes. ‘Councillor Pinkham reported that he, together with the Surveyor and the Clerk, had attended the Ministry of Health on August 24th … schemes for new sewer and a water main in Highfields Road and the main road’. Report of Unemployment Grants Committee also ‘willing to consider for grants , schemes re bathing pools, cemeteries, etc to provide employment during coming winter’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 10 October 1930
Leading article. Slight but appreciable revival of business morale in UK.
Braintree and Witham Times, 17 October 1930, page 4
Leading article. Development is cure for unemployment.
UDC, October 1930, in Braintree and Witham Times, 31 October 1930, page 2
Negotiations re cemetery at Little Elm Hall farm. Works that will proceed if Unemployment Grants Committee make grant, i.e. roads etc.
Braintree and Witham Times, 5 December 1930, page 5
Last night at Rowleys Hall, Witham branch of British Legion held a dance in order to raise funds to relieve distress among local unemployed.
Braintree and Witham Times, 12 December 1930
Crittall prosperity. Annual Report. Increased profits after successful year. Good in view of disturbed conditions of world trading. Could have been larger except for writing down of stocks held abroad. Home trading marked increase. Mostly about money etc , not employment.
Braintree and Witham Times, 12 December 1930
Adams and Mortimer begun work on new sewer and water main from junction of Highfields Road and Powershall End to the railway arch. About twenty men employed.
Essex Chronicle, 2 January 1931
Meeting held at Constitutional Club to consider arrangements ‘for any distress that might arise locally due to unemployment’. Mr W Pinkham presided. Reported already several philanthropic organisations including British Legion which relieved 37 members and dependants at Xmas. And Helping Hand Fund of United Brotherhood. Decided to appoint public committee to co-ordinate and to receive subs. Started by donation of £10 from Sir Valentine Crittall. Committee = Miss E Luard, Rev G A Campbell (vicar), Rev E Howes (Cong) Mr W Marskell (Wesleyans), Mr Blaise (British Leg), Mr W Pinkham JP chair, and Mr Gerald Bright, assistant clerk of UDC.
Braintree and Witham Times, 2 January 1931
page 3, col 3. See xerox of whole page. Meeting of townspeople in Constitutional Club, presided by Wm Pinkham chair of Council. Discussed whether need for fund for unemployed. Sir Valentine Crittall had sent £10. At Labour Exchange there were about 25 wives and 60 children whose head got unemployment pay, but probably more not registered. British Legion doing lots, especially Mr Blease. They helped 37 cases, reviewed every month.. Also Brotherhood. Also funds under admin of Vicar of Witham, and Congregationals, and Wesleyans. Vicar said difficulty was continuous relief, often got lots Xmas and then stopped. Miss Luard said was a drop for man with over £3 a week to come down to 28s dole, but what of agricultural lab only earning 30s a week less health insurance. Should considered latter first. Mr Pinkham thought Public Assistance Committee did enough so questionable whether a fund was needed. Vicar, W W Burrows, and Eb Smith, proposed fund. Agreed. Agreed to call it ‘The Chairman’s Fund’. Committee to be Miss Luard, Rev A G Campbell, Rev Mr Howse, Capt Evitt, W W Marskell, F G Bright, George Blease, G Dowsett, with Mr Pinkham chair.
30 January 1931, extract from Ministry of Health ‘note of interview’ (PRO HLG 48/266, Ministry of Health file on Witham UDC)
‘Witham Urban D C Extract from Note of Interview’
Mr Taylor, Mr Brown and I discussed this question with the Clerk and the Surveyor today (Small houses for aged persons)
Need: … The question is complicated by the fact that Messrs Crittalls, the chief employers of labour, are discharging men from their factory, and it is not yet known whether their trade will revive. They have also a large housing estate about four miles from the Council’s site and are pressing men in their employ who live in the Urban District Council’s houses to move to empty houses on that estate. the majority think there should be no more building until the future of Messrs Crittalls is known.’
May 1931, Crittall’s
Witham had been reduced to a four day week and some discharged from all the factories. Economies made, Witham factory layout altered to improve (ERO T/Z 67, page 248).
UDC, 27 July 1931, in Braintree and Witham Times, 30 July 1931, page 9
Unemployment Grants Committee have declined help towards work on humus tanks, because not satisfied that sufficiently out of normal course . Resolved to do the work anyway without a loan.
24 August 1931
Government resigns with budget deficit, Ramsay Macdonald forms National Government and Labour Party expels him.
27 Oct 1931
All party National Government wins 558 seats in General election, opposition 56.
Braintree and Witham Times, 3 December 1931, page 7
page 7 ‘A meeting of the unemployed was held in Witham High Street on Saturday evening, when Mr Tom Blake was the speaker. The need was stressed for increased membership of the National Unemployed Workers Movement, to enable this movement to combat the “means test” of the Public Assistance Committee. Employed workers were urged to join with the unemployed workers in the fight against the test’.
Worse year. Witham reduced to three day week for long periods. (ERO T/Z 67, page 248).
Braintree and Witham Times, 28 January 1932, page 5
Letter from A Poulter of 19 Cressing Road, about article concerning Witham Distress Fund. He says there is a genuine case for criticism when certain people are refused relief. The unemployed are not represented on the committee. Fund has existed for a year.
[I can’t see the report that Albert referred to. JG]
Braintree and Witham Times, 28 January 1932, page 9?
‘Witham Relief Fund
Much undeserved criticism has been levelled at those responsible for the disbursements of the Witham Council Chairman’s Fund for local distress’. The fund is called this because it is backed by the UDC, and the UDC chairman, W Pinkham, chairs the fund. The committee represents all local interests. ‘Discussion is centred on the fund in consequence of a letter which recently appeared in the official organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain’. The letter said the fund was established at Christmas 1930, and that £30 is still in hand despite there being 350 workers ‘on Witham Labour Exchange’. Examples (but no names) of people who didn’t get relief. Some justification at first sight – £36 in fund at first through voluntary subscription,. Not large and care needed. Committee victimised on occasion and not surprising that care exercised. Relief is given in form of vouchers.
Braintree and Witham Times, 28 January 1932, page 10
UDC had received request for support from Gainsborough UDC, to support abolition of means test. Agreed to leave it on the table.
Braintree and Witham Times, 4 February 1932, page 3
‘A Witham revival’. Fabric glove factory was re-opening on Monday after 6 months closure. Result of 50 % tariffs imposed on foreign manufactured goods by National Govt, according to the head, W Pinkham. Endorsed by his son W H Leslie Pinkham, sec of National Association of Fabric Glove manufacturers. WP said Labour Government had taken duty off and England couldn’t compete. Said that in 1920 there had been 84 firms of glove manufacturers in this country. Only 15 in December 1931. Only four manufacturing fabric gloves. Short time etc. German wages half English ones. Leslie optimistic. Hope to employ c 50 girls and increasing. ‘At one time this firm employed over 500 men and girls’. Relief in Witham. Lots of women ‘on Labour exchange’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 4 February 1932, page 10
‘Some of Witham’s unemployed have found a good way of spending their leisure hours. No fewer than 127 rats were killed at the Urban Council’s refuse dump, the sewerage farm, Maldon Road, last week’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 25 February 1932, page 6
Letter from Jack Putteril and Stanley Wilson of Saffron Walden Guardians Committee – scale of relief for unemployed should be increased.
Braintree and Witham Times, 10 & 17 March and 7 April 1932
10 March, page 4 Forthcoming Witham Council elections. Mr John Mawdsley will be nominated as ‘a workers’ candidate’. His programme is … provision of boots and shoes for children of unemployed where necessary; …. demand that the Council take a definite stand against the Public Assistance Committee and refuse to operate the means test. Originally the workers intended to have three candidates, but following meetings in the Scout Hut, decided to concentrate on Mr Mawdsley.
17 March, page 10 Meeting ‘of workers’ held in Scouts hut to endorse candidature of John Mawdsley. In chair was A Poulter. [Programme outlined as in previous issue]
7 April, page 5 J Mawdsley bottom of poll, 93 votes, next to bottom 371. William Pinkham defeated after 21 years; he was chairman of the Council and of the Unemployment committee. The new chairman was Ebenezer Smith [the Labour railwayman and one of the leaders of the drive for new affordable housing]
1932, 15 April, Log book of National Boys School (ERO E/ML 73/3)
‘I have found it necessary during the past fortnight to change organised games from the second hour on their respective days, to the first hours, because by about 2.45 the Recreation Ground is monopolised by unemployed, who play football, and who have lately yielded a little ground with bad grace. I hope this will not last long’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 28 April 1932, page 10.
Help for unemployed, discussed at Parochial Church Council. Vicar Rev Campbell suggested using concert room at the Scouts hut, where the local Labour Exchange was situated, to be a rest room for unemployed. Wanted to do something for ‘these unfortunates’. Proposed to have daily papers, magazines and writing materials. Newspapers have been offered,. Boy Scouts will give it for free. Invite donations of magazines etc.
Braintree and Witham Times, 5 May 1932
Unemployment fund. Area Guardians have considered a letter from Mr Bright saying small fund in Witham to help unemployed especially those not getting benefit. Asking for deserving cases to be referred to him. Guardians have told relieving officer.
UDC Public Health Committee, 6 July 1932
page 13. Braintree Area Public Assistance Committee have asked for assistance ‘in finding work for out-relief cases’. Agree.
September 1932 Crittall’s
Unions prepared to accept 10 % reduction of basic rate, down to £3, in September 1932. Some unrest but accepted ‘with as good a grace as possible. (ERO T/Z 67, page 148)
Braintree and Witham Times, 8 September 1932
page 8, col.3. ‘Means Test Protest’. Conference organised by Braintree Co-op Committee at Co-op Hall, Bocking End. Reps from Co-op, Trade Unions, and Labour Party, about 60 in all. Discussed ways of opposing means test. Resolution. Committee to arrange public demonstration included Mesdames Balaam and Horridge [other names given too].
Braintree and Witham Times, 15 September 1932
page 4 ‘Means Test Tragedies. Acute situation in Braintree. Unemployment problem gets more acute every day’. Reaching alarming proportions, and much misery and distress is now emerging. Daily meetings in Braintree, eg the Market Place on Saturday night, 800 people. ‘Well reasoned addresses were delivered by Mrs F Balaam, JP, of Silver End, and Councillor Parker of Halstead’. Protests against the application of the means test and reduction of allowances to the unemployed. ‘We understand that hot words were exchanged at the Means Test meeting of the Braintree Area Guardians on Monday when the Ministry of Labour’s new “scale” was again enforced. Nearly 200 cases were dealt with, and more than 50, including all the females – struck off the list of recipients, while all the others were reduced in benefit … Applicants must now be treated as if they were applying for Poor Law out relief. In resigning membership Mrs F Balaam, JP, has written to the clerk to the Public Assistance Committee at Braintree in the following terms. “After giving careful thought to the question of the future treatment of the unemployed men and women who we subjected to a Poor Law Means Test when claiming transitional unemployment benefit, I have definitely decided that I cannot attend any more committee meetings in connection with the same. The poorest section of the community, namely the unemployed, are now being treated by the National Government as paupers, and my principles are such that I am not going to be a party in giving scales of Poor Law out-relief to my unfortunate fellow men and women who are unemployed. I only trust that the public will be stirred and opinion aroused over this inhuman treatment meted out to men, women and children. Every member of the Public Assistance Committee ought to be fired with anger over the latest regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour on behalf, I suppose, of the National Government, which orders us to regard the unemployed as paupers”. [Newspaper comment continues:-] The situation is so serious that the possibility of developments of a grave nature should not be overlooked. We trust no effort is being spared to examine every possible avenue likely to produce at least some amelioration of the lot of these unhappy out-of works and their families’.
UDC Estates Committee, 21 September 1932
page 42. Mr H J Rowles asks part of Recreation Ground to be set aside ‘at certain hours in the week for organised games for the boys, as these games have on certain days been unable to be played on account of unemployed men using the pitch’. Considered. But couldn’t see way to do anything ‘which would prevent the present use of the pitch by persons out of employment’
Braintree and Witham Times, 22 September 1932
col 1. ‘The “Mean” Test. Another J P resigns in protest. The resignation of Mrs Florence Balaam, J.P., from the duties associated with the administration of the Means Test has been followed by that of Mr Eb Smith, JP, of Witham, who has written signifying his decision in this respect to Mr C H F Hunt, clerk to the Braintree Area Public Assistance Committee’. Won’t attend any more meetings while present scale of allowances have to be ‘rigidly enforced’. While possible to exercise discretion, attended, ‘but I will not be a party to enforcing a scale which in my opinion is utterly inadequate for the needs of the unemployed and those depending on them’. Intend to send copy of letter to press and to UDC. It latter want to replace him they may. ‘Otherwise I shall endeavour to attend the meetings of the Guardians Committee whenever possible’. Regret, love the work, only because of ‘inhuman and degrading restrictions’ now imposed. Reporter says that meanwhile, changes pending in Poor Law system, suggestion that Public Assistance Committees ‘shall deal only with the sick and infirm’. At present lots of able-bodied unemployed have to ‘seek relief because of refusal of unemployment benefit or because of the operation of the Means Test applied to those who have exhausted benefit’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 29 September 1932
page 2. (extracts).
col 1. ‘Witham Rates reduced’. Announcement at UDC that rate for next half year will be 5s 2d n £, reduction of 4d. Also outlined how rates spent.
col. 3. ‘To be shot at dawn. Witham Council discuss means test officials’. ‘The resignation of Mr Eb Smith, JP., from the duties associated with the Means Test – he represents the Witham Council on the Braintree Area Guardians –led to a discussion at the monthly meeting of the Council on Monday night’ . Mr Smith’s letter read out. Mr Esmond Smith also member of Public Assistance Committee for Witham and Coggeshall like Mr Eb Smith. He, Esmond, ‘pointed out that the scale for single men had been reduced to 9s per week “except in exceptional circumstances” and at the last meeting, instead of cutting down individual applicants to that amount, put them on the old scale of 15s 3d. Braintree area, he understood, had put their single men applicants up to 12s 6d , so there was “a fairly good muddle.” If they had been compelled irrevocably to cut down applicants to 9s, he would have agreed with Mr Eb Smith, but in the circumstances he should continue to serve on the Committee.
Mr Eb Smith said that when the official intimation of the enforcement of the scale was bought to his notice there were only two cases before the meeting which would be described as “exceptional” and those two cases the Public Assistance official present said would have to be submitted to the Ministry. The others were all brought down to scale – the Guardians were convinced that they had to do it and he (Mr Smith) had to agree to it, loathsome and unpleasant as it was. He was glad to hear that applicants since had got more, but was positive that the procedure adopted was irregular. Applicants who were dealt with a fortnight before had had their pay reduced to the new scale for a period of eight weeks while apparently those dealt with last week were given the old scale.
The chairman (Capt H L Evitt, JP): And so, Mr Smith, I think you can now withdraw your resignation. Mr Eb Smith: To allot the old scale is still irregular, though apparently it is being done. The chairman and other members (in chorus): Good ! Mr Esmond Smith: You can usually get round the law.
Mr W W Burrows said the Public Assistance Committee’s scale was absolutely ridiculous – 9s a week for a man! A man might manage on that sum for a week for a fortnight, but he could not continue, and even now some of them had absolutely no clothes to wear. He contended that there was nothing in the Act to say what the scale was – it was something someone was trying to read into it. Halstead, Braintree and Witham and Coggeshall were all applying the Means Test differently. Inmates of the Poor Law Institution cost the ratepayers about one guinea per head per week, yet the Public Assistance Committee expected a man, his wife, and two children to exist on £1 2s and pay rent out of that. Under the old scale the latter was entitled to £1 7s 3d and that was quite low enough. The chairman: Quite. Mr Burrows: If the Ministry want to turn us out, let them: but in the meantime let us continue to administer the Means Test to the fullest possible advantage of the Population. The Chairman: I don’t think they will turn you out. Mr Burrows: I think we have a good case when the figures concerning the cost of the inmates are compared with the other cases for relief.
Mr W G Naylor, expressing the hope that Mr Eb Smith would withdraw his resignation, said he thought that gentleman had been a little premature sending it in. The Chairman: I also hope Mr Smith will withdraw his resignation. I don’t think the Council could have a better representative. Mr Naylor: A man of Mr Smith’s experience is the right man to serve on that committee and I don’t think he is justified in tendering his resignation. Mr Manning supported Mr Naylor in his request to Mr Smith to withdraw his resignation. The Council wanted the assistance of Mr Smith on that committee to see that what was right and just was done.
Mr Eb Smith said he gave the matter very careful thought before he tendered his resignation and until there was an official alteration in the scale he was not prepared to serve on the Committee. Mr Burrows added that the Council’s representatives on the Guardians Committee would be serving the unemployed better by stopping on the committee, and Mr Naylor said the Ministry wanted standing up to a lot more than they had been in the past. Mr Eb Smith said he was going to the Guardians Committee meeting on Friday next and things were to going to be so quiet as they had been. He might state that at one recent meeting one member of the committee at Braintree had stated that if it had been within his power he would have been prepared to shoot the officials responsible for the low scale on the Braintree bus park before he had his breakfast. Although he was not prepared to go as far as that, he was seriously dissatisfied with the working of the Means Test and required its alteration before he would participate in its administration (Hear, hear). Mr Burrows: Now we have the backing of the Council and our work meets with the approval of the members, let us continue to stand up to the Ministry (Hear, hear).
The Council then unanimously agreed to support to the full the action of its representatives on the Means Test in obtaining the fullest possible benefit for the unemployed, and the discussion terminated’.
September 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932
‘Resignations in protest against administration of Means Test from Braintree Area Guardians Committee of Mrs Florence Balaam, J.P. of Silver End and Mr Eb Smith, JP of Witham’. (from round up).
September 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932
“Hunger march” by Braintree and district unemployed to Rayne Road Institution to discuss distress brought about by Means Test’. [is this same event as in 6 October edition below?]
Braintree and Witham Times 6 October 1932 page 2
‘2,000 unemployed at Braintree Work House. Bread and cheese meal for hunger marchers’. Protest at expiration of insurance benefit and operation of means test.
Meeting on Thursday night at Corn exchange. Guardians criticised. Then the following morning upwards of 2,000 men, women and children marched to workhouse, deputation interviewed administrators of he Means Test. Rev J Putterill spoke. Also Mrs F Balaam [of Silver End] as follows.
‘Mrs F Balaam spoke of the meanness of the means test and claimed without hesitation that the people responsible for it and for its operation was the “National” Government. “If the Member for the Maldon Division had been here to-night” declared Mrs Balaam, “I should have told him so”. (Cheers). Proceeding, the speaker explained that rather than put the Means Test into operation, some of the area Guardians resigned, and all over the country, borough councils, and in some cases county councils, were revolting against the Test – they were beginning to realise the depths of poverty to which they were subjecting their fellow men and women; they were refusing to do the dirty work of a dirty Government. (Cheers). Steps were being taken to link up the unemployed at Braintree, Chelmsford, Coggeshall and Kelvedon, so that no one district should stand alone. It was not going to be an easy fight, but they must win or starve. (Cheers)
Mrs Balaam went on to say that only that morning she received a request for a subscription to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She urged that the NSPCC should prosecute the Government for cruelty to the children of the unemployed by expecting them to be reared in happiness on the present scales – scales that were absolute cruelty to the children and which brought poverty into their homes. (Hear hear). They as a community had to tackle sooner or later a system which allowed poverty on one hand and palaces on the other. Those people must be made to realise the duties of citizenship. In the coming winter there would be women who would be mentally affected – become nerve-wrecks – because of the privations – ill-nourishment – they would be called upon to endure. (“Shame !”).
“The fight you are waging today”, declared Mrs Balaam, emphatically, “is a fight for your health and your home. In 1914 many of you left everything to fight the battles of others. I hope the same spirit which led you to do that in 1914 will lead you to stand steadfast for your wives and children in 1932” (Cheers).
Mrs Balaam added that it was quite obvious that the more the Government cut transitional benefit the more unemployment there would be. Pressure must be brought to bear on the “National” Government to proceed with the housing and building schemes of the Labour Party’s agricultural policy. That would, in some degree at any rate, alleviate some of the distress of the coming winter by finding work for some’.
October 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932
‘Braintree Council receive deputation of local unemployed who demanded that “scales of justice” and “scales of relief” should both be adjusted’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 20 October 1932
page 8. Proposed soup kitchen, hoped for by local clergy. Discussed in past. Committee formed. Hope to make distribution centre near the Labour Exchange. Glad of offers of help. British Legion have also considered the possibilities and it’s hoped there will be co-operation.
1932, 27 Oct (cutting in Lucy Croxall’s collection, perhaps BWT)Committee formed by local clergy re providing a soup kitchen for unemployed. Decided to make Church House the HQ and continue through winter, 2 days a week. Also hoped to run a canteen.
Braintree and Witham Times, 3 November 1932
page 4, col 5. ‘Witham Soup Kitchen’. Letter from Alfred J T Lewis, hon sec, appealing for support for centre for distribution of soup twice a week at or near Church House. Also a hot drink for people coming to sign on at bureau. Subscriptions welcome. ‘Not charity but … duty and privilege’. Most were ex-service-men. No fault of own that unemployed. Proposed to begin in second week of November.
Braintree and Witham Times, 10 November 1932
page 4, col 3. Meeting held, convened by Mr B Purl for the British Legion. Scheme as proposed before, as brought forward by local Toc H. Lots of bodies represented, listed. Include Witham Co-op and Workers Union. Toc H through Mr E S Page, Rev E W Howes and Rev W G Eeles. Said should go through winter not just Christmas. Households and workers asked to contribute 2d. a week. W W Burrows vice chairman. Also Captain H L Evitt.
Essex Chronicle, 11 Nov 1932
Meeting at British Legion, chaired by Capt H L Evitt, chair of UDC. To discuss how townspeople can help local unemployed. To promote scheme whereby each householder or worker be asked to contribute 2d. a week in winter till March next. This was Toc H proposal. British Legion had wanted to help at Xmas. Committee elected, Capt Evitt chair, Mr W W Burrows vice chair, Mr B Purl (who had called meeting) hon sec, Mr Spencer Dier hon treasurer. Was assumed that balance in hand in UDC Chairman’s Relief Fund would form nucleus. Collectors to go round weekly. [similar in Braintree and Witham Times, various organisations had different ideas]
November 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932
‘Witham commence practical scheme to assist local unemployed, including soup kitchen and use of Church Hall as reading room’
Braintree and Witham Times 1 December 1932, p 8
Local Labour exchange. Major F Gerald Bright of Roslyn House had sent 25 wild rabbits after a shoot over his land. Hoped every unemployed married man with family of three or more would get gift.
Braintree and Witham Times, 8 December 1932
page 8, col 2. Witham Distress Committee. Donations received, listed. Collectors have books. Co-op have given 100 two shilling vouchers for their shops.
Braintree and Witham Times, 15 December 1932, page 10
‘The Rev A J T Lewis desires to acknowledge with thanks the following donations, financial and otherwise, to the soup centre for Witham’s unemployed. Supplies: Meat, Messrs F H Fuller, Mrs J Sorrell and Mr W Loveday; vegetables, Mr Ingram; cereals etc., the Witham Corn and Seed Stores. Donations: Church box 10s., Mrs Brand 4s., anonymous P.O. 5s.’
December 1932 in Braintree and Witham Times, 29 December 1932, summary of 1932
Money distributed in Christmas relief.
Sales force directed to try and convert wood window users. But 1933 ‘the worst year in the whole annals of the Company’. No dividend again. Beginning of year Witham reduced to 180 tons a week and then to 120, short time and dismissals. Bit of improvement in economy. So by May, Standard Metal Windows increased from 6,000 units per day at Witham to 10,000. But no change in rate of building till next year (ERO T/Z 67, pages 249-250).
1933, 17 January, Log book of National Boys School (ERO E/ML 73/3)
Relief fund asked about boys with ‘bad boots’. Only a few.
Braintree and Witham Times, 16 March 1933
Columns 1 and 2 ‘Witham Church affairs’. Long report of annual meeting of Parochial Church Council in Rowley’s rooms
‘Mr Pearce, in a short review of the past year, said the Church House, as a centre for unemployed, had served a very useful additional purpose, and special thanks were due to Nurse Wood and Mrs Thorpe’.
page 8 ‘On Tuesday evening the soup kitchen, after having proved a real boon to the local unemployed and others, was closed down, now that the winter is practically passed. Sponsored by the assistant curate of Witham, the Rev A J T Lewis some months ago, it has been most useful, and the local tradespeople responded remarkably well to the reverend gentleman’s appeal for food supplies’.
April 1933, in Braintree and Witham Times, review of 1933, 28 Dec 1933
‘Witham Relief Committee were able to expend over £300, during four months of winter, in alleviation of local distress’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 4 May 1933
page 8, cols 4 and 5. Balance sheet for ‘Witham Relief Fund’.
Receipts include: ‘Balance from Witham Distress fund’ £18 17s 2d. Donations £90.19s.6d. House collections £155 15s 7d. Others include various events, ‘goods from Silver End Development Co’. Vouchers from Witham Co-op and Gas Co. Total £375 11s 10d.
Expenses include: ‘Vouchers issued for relief £232 4s 7d’. ‘Purchase of boots, shoes and clothing, Christmas parcels £48 19s 6d’. ‘Nourishment for schoolchildren £2’. Seeds, tools, printing. Balance in hand £60 19s.0d’.
Essex Chronicle, 26 May 1933, page 8
Sir Valentine Crittall ‘addressed the men at the Crittall Works on questions of conditions and wages, and the men were quite satisfied by the candid statement made to them’. [similar Braintree and Witham Times]
Braintree and Witham Times, 22 September 1932, page 6
‘The “Mean” Test. Another Witham J P resigns in protest. The resignation of Mrs Florence Balaam, JP, from the duties associated with the administration of the Means Test has been followed by that of Mr Eb Smith, JP of Witham …
Essex Chronicle, 1 Nov 1933
Captain H L Evitt presided at meeting of Witham Relief Committee. Mr S Dier reported £35 13s 9d in hand. Mr B Purl resigned as sec and Mr H Crook as financial sec through pressure of work. Mr A G Bright elected to both.
UDC Finance and General Purposes Committee, 22 November 1933
page 193. Witham Relief Fund. Secretary has asked for name of Council’s representative. Recommend appointment of Councillor E L Smith, and to help with collections.
Beginning of recovery in building trade. Better year and Crittall sales increased by about 50%. Witham making over 400 tons of Standard Metal windows a week (from 120 at beginning of 1933) (ERO T/Z 67, page 250).
UDC Finance and General Purposes Committee, 23 May 1934
page 295. Witham Relief Committee have thanked for use of Council Chamber throughout winter for their meetings.
Braintree and Witham Times, 4 October 1934
page 8. Witham Relief Fund. Year ending 2 October 1934. Turnover £217.7s 1d. Balance £45. Payment out was £107 15s 9d. Vouchers for clothing etc. Donations in £53 19s 5d. House to house collections £96 12s 8d.
page 8, col 1. Advert. ‘”Topical” The World’s Best Waterproof! See the Special Display at Cooper’s, 68 High Street, Witham’.
page 8, col 1. ‘Mr Thomas Rawling, a milk roundsman in the employ of Mr H R Wheaton, Freebournes Farm, was proceeding along High Street, Witham, on a tricycle with a load of milk, when his machine and a small car collided. Mr Rawling was knocked down and sustained slight abrasions to his hand and leg. Eight bottles of milk were smashed and, in addition, three gallons poured into the roadway when the delivery can overturned’.
Braintree and Witham Times, 29 November 1934
page 4. Annual meeting of ‘the benevolent committee of the Witham branch of the British Legion. ‘To meet on 2nd and 4th Fridays in month to consider unemployment, sickness or distress amongst local servicemen. Improved conditions locally. Regrets that ‘so few members availed themselves of the facilities offered by registering with the Employment Office when unemployed.’ Local branch always ready to help find work.
Capital reorganised, ordinary shares reduced, bad for workers who had some. But record profits in next 3 years so OK.. Overall output five times that of 1924. But loyalty of men strained by the previous years of difficulties, and managers’ ‘ethical standards’ had slipped too. Esp as Francis C had gone (ERO T/Z 67, page 252).
UDC Finance and General Purposes Committee, 12 February 1935
page 496. Resolution from Mansfield Woodhouse UDC re Unemployment Assistance. Protesting against ‘harsh determinations’ by Unemployment Assistance Board under Part II of Unemployment Act 1934. Recommend supporting.
UDC Finance and General Purposes Committee, 26 March 1935
page 1. Tree at Maldon Road allotment field belonging to UDC, fell on Mr Loveday’s property. Surveyor got ‘certain unemployed men’ to take top of tree. Nothing offered for trunk by Mr A E Gaymer, timber merchant, or by Mr Loveday. So tell Mr Loveday he can have it if he repairs the fence.
Estates Committee, 16 January 1936
page 250. Public Hall. Have hired Public Hall for 25th inst. evening for ‘tea an entertainment for children and members of British Legion and of persons unemployed’. Agreed just to charge for light and labour.
UDC Finance and General Purposes Committee, 11 March 1936
page 304. Public Hall. Please can vestibule be used as ‘Receiving Station for articles of clothing etc in connection with an appeal on behalf of distressed areas in South Wales’. From Councillor Maidment. Yes.
April 1936, Crittall’s
Peak of output before war though profits most in 1938 (ERO T/Z 67, page 261-62).
Interview with George Hayes, tape 24
Mr H: Rodgers was there when I first went there (Doll: no he wasn’t), Rodgers was first then we had Inns, oh there’s been no end there, Waite – he went from there, then there was Mitchell, Oh, I can’t think of the names of all of them, there’s been so many there you know. Small was there during the war. I think Small’s brother was Labour MP when Labour first got in. Of course they lost the next time and he was out of work. Crittall was labour MP. He got a job with Crittalls and brought his family down and times were very bad then they’d got to pay and I know you had to belong to a Union. Went on strike once and I remember Small coming on to us because we went on strike you know. Well I suppose in a sense he/we? was right. There wasn’t that amount of money about and you wouldn’t get no more and to go on strike was silly you know. That’s when Small was there. It was really terrible and you was watched all the time then. Somebody standing over you.