Kingston Aviation
Harry Webb
Transcript: 1
Generations of families working at Hawkers

Harry here recalls how the Hawker workforce was chiefly comprised of local families who all knew each other. Different generations of the same family earned their livelihoods at the factory – an arrangement that dated from the days of Sopwith Aviation (1912 – 1920). Many could recall that in the downturn after the First World War, many workers had lost their jobs.

The workforce at Kingston was made up very much of all the people who lived locally in those rows and rows of Victorian houses. I cycled from New Malden. You’d get the odd person that would get the train, and bus, but an awful lot walked. And they were known to each other. And also there was very much of – families there. Most people that worked there had either brothers, cousins, uncles, as I did.

Yes, very much a family orientated firm.

Very much a family affair. And of course I’d heard the tales from an uncle of the years between the wars when there had been long periods of unemployment where they would all go away and as soon as the work returned, they’d all come back to Canbury Park Road.

Well, it was a friendly place.

A friendly work place.

The conditions, as I suspect were the same in all engineering places, were a bit harsh. You punched the clock when you started. If you were four minutes late you lost a quarter. And that was ruthlessly enforced.