Social Reconstruction Survey
The attached Report on the Stroud Valley is one of a special series of Reports called for by the Board of Trade and dealing with particular towns and districts in which special problems of post-war employment seem likely to arise
(signed) GDH Cole
Director of the Nuffield College
Social Reconstruction Survey
11 February 1943
SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION SURVEY
REPORT ON THE STROUD VALLEY
Undertaken on behalf of the
BOARD OF TRADE and the MINISTRY OF WORKS AND PLANNING
Professor W Hamilton Whyte
Dr Idris Bell
Report on Stroud Valley
Report on Dursley
Appendix 1. Returns of Registered Workers, Ministry of Labour.
Appendix 2 List of firms employing not less than 50 workers in the area
Appendix 3 Register General's Estimates of Civilian Population
REPORT ON STROUD VALLEY
As Chief Local Investigator for the South Western Area, I was invited by the Central Committee to undertake certain enquiries in the Stroud Valley on behalf of the the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Works and Plannin. The investigation included “a review of the pre-war position of of local industries and services and the employment dependent on them, an examination and comparison of the present position as affected by the war of those industries and services, and a consideration of the factors which are likely to affect the post-war industrial development of the area; and to obtain and comment on the views of representative local bodies on the post war development of the area”
When first asked to define the area for the purpose of this investigation, it was decided to to adopt the district which includes the towns of Stroud, Nailsworth and Dursley. We have found no reason to depart from this decision, but in the light of the information collected, have thought it desirable in submitting the report, to deal with Dursley apart from the other two towns. While all three are colse enough geographically to be subject to the same war-time changes, there are peculiar local factors in the case of Dursley that Distinguish it from the rest of the area. By treating the area chosen in this way, it is possible to simplify the problem and present a clearer picture of the probable post-war situation.
Information has been collected from three main sources -
(a) Ministry of Labour Returns of Registered Workers
(b) Industrial Survey of Gloucestershire, carried out last year by the County Planning Officer
© Personal investigation in the district
Some figures of civilian population movements are also attached, derived from the Registrar General's Return.
This detailed information is given in Appendices to this report.
If was clear from the very beginning of the enquiry in the area that a sharp difference of opinion prevails between those representing old established firms, and those attached to firms which have migrated to this disrtict during the war.
Amongst the former are the pre-war textile and clothing manufacturers who deplore the loss of their pre-war business, and fear a destruction of the amenities of the Valley as the result of the war invasion. This live in the hop that when hostilities cease the invaders will either leave or be compelled to go. This view is not confined to the employers, but the loyalty of the employees is being overcome by the larger earnings secured in war work.
Amongst the newcomers, opinions vary according to the differences of view as to post war policy. In some instances, it s not the intention of the firms to remain, and the attitude of their representatives is one of acquiesence rather than criticism. But those associated with the firms who hope to settle permanently challenge the view that their arrival will adversely affect either the fortunes of existing concerns or the beauties of the countryside.
On the basis of the data assembled, it should be possible to anticipate with some certainty the industrial situation when the war ends, but in deciding questions of post-war policy, the Government would be well advised to make due allowance for this cleavage of opinion since both sides are prejudiced in favour of their views.
Another factor which has affected all three places is the evacuee. At the outbreak of war the region was scheduled as a reception area and there was a considerable volume of immigration by evacuees both voluntary and official, quite independent of industrial changes. In addition to families composed chiefly of women and children, a number of schools from target areas transferred to the Valley. A substantial proportion of women and children have drifted back to their own towns, as well as a number of schools, but since most of the survivors are elderly people, the billeting problem has been intensified in face of the rapid industrial growth. The whole area is now closed to new comers, and all billetting accommodation is controlled.
Nevertheless, the prevailing view held locally is that by the end of the war, the number of evacuees likely to remain permanently will be too small to have any serious effect upon the post-war situation. A much more difficult problem is likely to arise then, as the result of the transfer of Government Departments to the Valley, and this is considered later in the report.
The most important feature of the Stroud Valley in that it is a mixed industrial and agricultural area. Its industrial history, as represented by the textile and clothing groups, goes back to the period before the Industrial Revolution, and it is not dependent upon one, but a number of different industries. In this last respect, it is different from Dursley, when industrial fortunes are largely bound up with the future of a single firm. Some idea of the mixed character of the prevailing industries is shown in the following group taken from the tables given in the appendix. The 1938 figures indicate the position before the war, while the last return brings the figures down to July of last year.
1938 – 9
Building and Contracting
Light Mechanical Industries
Rubber and Leather
Paper and Printing
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