Friday, 20 August 2010

Britain at Work - Building Workers Project

Substantial progress is being made with the Britain at Work 1945-95 project, which I have previously mentioned in my newsletter. The parent body is a steering group comprising all interested parties and is open to anyone who wishes to put their project under its umbrella. Dave Welsh of HISTORYtalk has updated me about its work within the wider project. It has already done some 30 interviews with people in West London and Middlesex about their working lives. These interviews are snapshots of work, industrial relations and the labour movement across the vast outer West London corridor in the post-war era, and includes people who worked at Kodak, on the tubes and buses, in education, libraries, in engineering factories, Ford's Langley near Slough and Heathrow Airport. The interviews are a key component in the construction of a new social and economic history of the whole area. It will be an important resource for future historians and researchers. Britain at Work is a nationwide programme which was launched in 2009 at the House of Commons by Labour MP John McDonnell and labour historian Nina Fishman (now sadly deceased). HISTORYtalk has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Another strand is about to take off: Constructing Post War Britain: Building Workers' Stories 1950-70 run from the University of Westminster. It is a pity they are not starting in 1945 as my study of building workers' struggles in the immediate post-war period through the activity and experience of Alf Loughton provides an important foundation stone for understanding what was going on in the building industry, between workers and employers, within the trade unions and between the Communist Party and those who were suspicious of or hostile to the Party. Many of Alf's other papers, which I am in the process of donating to Wandsworth Museum, are an important resource for many other aspects of the building industry through to the 1960s. The Westminster project would like to hear from people in West London or those who worked in the building industry for more interviewing.
Britain at Work main contact person: Stefan Dickers (Bishopsgate Institute):
Britain at Work website based at TUC Library:
HISTORYtalk:; 020 7792 2282;

Westminster Project: Chris Wall 020 7911 5000 (ext 3322);

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