Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Another issue of Design for Industry magazine here. This one is from Aug/Sep 1959. Featured on the spreads (if you click on them they will increase in size, albeit in a rather clunky fashion) is the Scottish Industries Exhibition that featured 'more than 200 firms representing 100 industries... showing goods of Scottish manufacture'. According to the article, the previous fairs (in 1949 and 1954) attracted more than a million visitors, with buyers from over 100 countries placing orders of more than £20m.

'Germans, Japanese and the Swiss are untiring in their efforts to sell their products abroad. We must do the same,' advises Mr Matthew H Donaldson, General Manager of the exhibition.

Images on the spread above, from top left; clockwise: coils by The Distillers Co, Ltd of Grangemouth, 201k sewing machine made by Singer Manufacturing Co, Ltd, Clydebank, a 42,000 ton tanker built at John Brown's shipyard on Clydebank, Dunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye, sunken fire with hammered copper canopy exhibited by Allied Iron-founders Ltd, Falkirk, Burns memorial, Brig o' Doon, Alloway, desk adding and subtracting machine made at the Strathleven factory of Burroughs Adding Machine Ltd.

Images on single page,from top left; clockwise: Olivetti typewriter, made in Glasgow, compressor by Alley & MacLellan (Polmadie) Ltd., The Trossachs from Wallace Memorial, Stirling and a Series HD 8 track-type tractor by Caterpillar Tractor Co, Ltd. (Glasgow)

Sunday, 29 May 2011


A fruitful week of M&I related news. Some great interviews:

"The likes of Burberry have gone off to China, us lot, the small guys are keeping the factories going," says Oliver Spencer in this video interview

"We don't have a manufacturing base any more." Kenneth Grange in the Financial Times

Some good news:

And some bad:

And a whole bunch of fighting talk:

A case for making in the UK from the founder of Bulldog skincare, Simon Duffy

Manufacturing the 'only real answer' to rebalancing the UK economy says Alan Rudge at Cranfield's second National Manufacturing Debate

Manufacturing 'not finished' says Roger Bootle, a leading economist

Thursday, 26 May 2011


On Tuesday M&I popped down to the Farmiloe building at Clerkenwell Design Week to have a look at some UK made furniture. Amongst the expected (A.S.A.P: a combination of four likeminded brands - Another Country, Scene, Assemblyroom and Pli) was a new surprise.

House of Hackney specialises in decorative, traditionally twisted home furnishings. A brief chat with Frieda (the brand's founder, alongside her husband) revealed that they have spent a great deal of time sourcing the best British factories with which to work. From the china makers of Stoke on Trent and Scottish furniture makers to the last eiderdown factory in England. They have evidently done their research.

Expect to hear more on all of the above in the near future, but for now, enjoy some images of their work.

Top to bottom, items by: Pli, Assemblyroom, Scene, Another Country, House of Hackney

Sunday, 22 May 2011


The East End clothing industry's demise, from the perspective of a sewing machine rental company.

In the States, manufacturing is providing new jobs.

Nick Clegg touched on manufacturing in his speech at the CBI annual dinner this week.


When M&I found out about Made in Britain by Evan Davis it got rather excited. Then the book arrived (thanks to Little, Brown) in its terribly dull dust jacket and expectations leveled.

Made in Britain is a misleading title. Davis' account is really an economic review of the UK. Therefore it contains very little on (physical) items created here. He visits BAE Systems, McLaren and Brompton - focusing on already well known British manufacturing success stories.

Davis writes in a manner similar to his presenting style on Radio 4 - convivial and easy to understand. There are some nice passages on the history of British manufacturing in the chapter entitled 'How We Got Here' plus some interesting examples of previous 'Back Britain' campaigns (including a 'Help Britain Pen Pal Club' which encouraged children to 'create new friends... future business contacts for your country'; a 60s version of LinkedIn for kids?) Despite these bursts of interesting material, the book suffers from a pervading feeling that it is merely an accompaniment to the TV series of the same name.

"We need to reorient resources away from domestic consumption towards the production of items that can help pay our way in the world," says Davis, in one of his many musings on the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy. He argues his case well throughout, providing a sensible level of optimism on the role of manufacturing working alongside other industries.

Made in Britain is enjoyably upbeat and serves as a sound introduction to how Britain makes money. However, if you are looking for in-depth analysis of the products we make and the people who make them you might want to look elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming TV series works alongside the book.

Reviews of Made in Britain can also be found on the Financial Times and The Independent

Evan Davis is appearing at Foyles on Charing Cross Road on 21st June. Tickets are free and available here.

Photo of Brompton bicycle frame parts from M&I's Facebook album of the visit in March 2011

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Interesting article by Will Self in The Times yesterday. Somewhat surprisingly Self is keen on The Shard. M&I agrees with many of his sentiments, perhaps spurred by a similar visit back in November last year. Here are a couple of quotes from behind the Murdoch paywall:

'The strength of the city is its capacity to mutate while retaining its continuity: cycling down Borough High Street from the Elephant, I was confronted by the huge silver flank of the Shard perfectly framing John Price's 1735 Neo-Classical church of St George the Martyr."

"The view was fabulous: the southern perspective looking north means that you see the entire City and West End laid out like museum exhibits at your feet."

All photos taken by M&I, November 2010. Top to bottom: towards Canary Wharf, St Pauls, looking up, train lines running into London Bridge (looking south east), towards the West End and Centre Point, building materials.

Monday, 9 May 2011


'The beautiful and important culture of things'. Fascinating article by Stephen Bayley in The Independent on the importance of making. If you read one thing fully this week, make this it.

How Warwick University is training up the 'future industrialists of Britain'. Interesting interview with Kumar Bhattacharyya, founder of Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)

Howdens joinery is to invest £20m in its two sites over the next couple of years, one of the largest investments in furniture manufacturing over the last decade.