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BIRMINGHAM.

WORK BROUGHT BY WAR.

Birmingham, writes a London 1 'Times" special correspondent, claims to bave inproved upon the wnr-time motto of industrial England: "Businef s as usual." "Busier than usual," is its characteristic boast, and those who know their nggres?ively competitive Birmingham will realise what this means There is stamped on one's mind tbe impression of a great community with its coat off and its sleeves rolled up.

The world expects a high standard of patriotism from tbe city wbich is so closely identified with the political school of Imperialism, and its atmosphere is now, as always, thoroughly in vigorating. There is a confident tone in public and .private discussion that is infectious, you have only to feel instinctively that you are on tbe winning side. Burke called Birmingham "the toy-shop of Europe." The city is something of far; mightier conception now, its mission is one of vital ueees3 ity to the State. It has given men generously to the national service ; it is now supplying the State with all manner of indispensable material. There are not many articles required for tbe ar_ing„and equipment of tbe troops that cannot be made in Bit' roingbam, and tbe War Office is avail ing itself to the full of the resources of its manifold industries, Two thirds of tbe present output is on account of war preparations. Manufacturers on the outbreak of war gave much of their attention to the capture of German trade. This patriotic pursuit has had to be abandonded for tho time in face of the flood of Government order. The catalogne of Birmingham's con tributions to trench and camp life is amazing. Its variety is almost as great as that of the curiosity shop in which Balzac's hero found la place de chagrin. Macaulay, in bis famous de scription of the state of England in 1685, said that Birmingham buttons were just beginning to be known, and that nobody had yet heard of Birmingham guns. To day its net i 3 spread more widely than that of any other | manufacturing town in the Midlands and the North. Its range of production is almost on an epic scale. Be sides coming to tbe direct aid of tbe Government factories with new machinery to enable them to obtain a greater output, Birmingham is manufacturing armoured motor cars, aeroplane engines, machine guns for use on land and in the air, shells for light and heavy guns, rifles, cartridges and gunpowder. It is evolving new types of weapons ' and warlike implements. It is converting motorcars into am- j bulances, and heavy ( commercial motors into military transport wagons. It is sendiDg swords and pistols to the officers'corps, mess-tins, water bottles, flint and tinder boxen, "housewives," forks and spoons and Bbaving brushes to the men in the ranks. The cavalry are receiving from this universal provider harness, saddles, bridles, and bits, horsebrushes, and the frost studs wbich are so necessary in a Continental winter campaign. Under its creative hand rise motor cycles for dispatch bearers. movable kitchens, barbed wire, stoves to keep the trenches warm and sheets of metal to make them secure, buttons and badges for the soldiers' uniform, and medais for him when he gains distinction. For tbe Navy Burning ham is making everything in metal needed for the furnishing of ihe ships from the lamp at the mast bead to the carpet pail in the cabin. There is' a good deal of the romance of war in this miscellaneous arsensal of the Allies.

New factories are being built, now machines installed, new tools brought into use Trades are changing, and workmen are adapting themselves to new occupations. Men who used to make cycle spokes bave turned their hands to knitting needles. Other workers in the cycle trade are making cartridge cases. Machinery built for tbe manufacture of gear cases is now being used for making hollow ware pans and basins for tbe troops. There is little demand for good cut glass; so tbe glass workers have sought a fresh channel for their enterprise in electric light bulbs. Brasafounders have given up making door latches and the like for brass rings and copper tubes for shrapnel shells. Woodworkers are making forms, tables and tent pegs for-tbe camps. Rolling stock firms have extended their ranges to include tbe manufactute of heavy ambulances.

The jewellery trade, which has its home in the famous Chamberlain constituency of West Birmingham, is not capable of such lightning changes Workers in the finest metal, whose eyes are in their fingers, cannot take up rough and ready job 3 without ruining tbe sensitiveness of their deli cate hands. Some of the men engaged in the cheaper grades of enamelling, however, are adapting themselves to the patriotic trade in badges and em

blems. Labour bas reached for a time the condition which Birmingham's great statesman sought to at tain by another means; work for all, iat any rate for all who can do it. An engineering firm which advertised for 300 skilled men received only 50 replies. Some types of artisan can command their own price, and there is often keen competition between rival, firms for the services of individual workers, Hundreds of skilled men eager to enlist have been forbidden to leave their job 3. Others, who were already undergoing their training, have been sent back to the ranks o! tbe industrial army,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AMBPA19150223.2.10

Bibliographic details

BIRMINGHAM., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3408, 23 February 1915

Word Count
894

BIRMINGHAM. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3408, 23 February 1915

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