Impact of the Second World War on the British piano industry
Deters, Sarah Katherine
The war effort of the United Kingdom and the subsequent restrictions and laws enforced by the Government during the Second World War time period had a significant impact on the British piano industry. The skilled work force, factories, and raw materials previously used to produce pianos became integral to the war effort, while production of non-necessities and luxury items, such as pianos, was limited and eventually ceased. In order to limit production and divert material and labour to the war effort, debilitating restrictions, company consolidation, and prohibitive taxation came into effect. This forced many piano manufacturers to seek out war production contracts, while those who were not able to secure these contracts had to relinquish their factories and employees, rely on revenue from repair work, or completely close down during the war years. This thesis is the first extensive study of the impact of the Second World War on the British piano industry. Through an examination of the laws and regulations passed by the British Government during and immediately following the war years, a better understanding of the war’s effect on the entire industry will be established and a timeline of the various restrictions placed on piano manufacturing will be presented. This timeline highlights (1) the Government’s desire to stop piano manufacturing in order to divert labour and materials to the war effort, (2) the effect of Government restrictions on the piano industry, (3) the industry’s struggle to convert to war work, and (4) the impact of the war in the post-war years. Archival documents from both the piano industry and the Board of Trade elucidate the difficult situation faced by the industry and the effort of the Government both to stop piano production and to help the industry restart in the post-war era. The goal of the paper is to show the lasting effects of the war on the British piano industry and to argue that the British Government’s treatment of the piano industry during the war era hastened its eventual demise.