Nobel's, Linlithgow (1917-1918)
Trade at the Regent Works continued to be brisk, with long hours, overtime and shift work. Another extension was necessary in May for a dining room and recreation room for the ever expanding workforce; and yet more extensions towards the end of 1917.
Nobel’s workforce was now so large that an active social life had formed among the workforce. In the attached document, you can read an account of the annual social and dance held in the Victoria Hall in Linlithgow. Like every wartime social event, the proceeds of the evening went to charity, in this case, the Red Cross. However, their most remarkable fundraising effort was to bring a complete performance of Donizetti’s opera, The Daughter of the Regiment, to the Victoria Hall at Linlithgow in October 1917. The two performances and a third in Bo’ness were completely sold out, and raised the huge sum of £300 for wartime charities.
The importance of Nobel’s in the life of Linlithgow is shown by the fact that in 1915 alone, Nobel’s had paid around £20,000 in wages, and was the leading industry in the town. The good industrial relations between management and workers were evident at many of these social occasions.
Wartime savings were urged on the nation, to help to pay the immense cost of the war. Nobel’s employees formed a War Savings Association, each member saving a few pence per week. With the money Government War Bonds were purchased (in effect, a loan to the Government).
News of former Nobel employees killed in the war became ever more common. These were reservists or men who had volunteered early in the war, before the Munitions acts prevented munitions workers leaving their jobs or being called up.
Work at the factory continued throughout 1918, along with fundraising by the employees, and war savings. In August 1918, the employees brought a large party of wounded soldiers from Bangour War Hospital to the grounds of Linlithgow Academy (now Low Port Primary School). They were entertained with lunch, tea, brass band music, and competed at sports with factory employees. A detailed account of the happy day can be read in the attached document.
In November, the war ended, and the Regent Works, having been wholly geared up for the war effort during the last four and a half years, had to begin the difficult process of adjusting back to peacetime commercial manufacturing.
For more on life at Nobel’s, Linlithgow, during 1917 and 1918, see the attached documents.