Friday, 27 March 2015

The Queen Visits A Hosiery Factory.

From The Times, March 27 1915.



The Queen yesterday afternoon visited the mayoral workrooms of her “Work for Women” Fund at Willesden and Paddington, and afterwards went over the hosiery factory which has been started since the war by Miss Resdaile, a wholesale dressmaker, at her premises in Rathbone-place, to keep her workgirls in employment.

...The Queen first visited the room where socks for the Army were being made, asking many questions as to the output and price of the yarn. She was much interested in the small flat machines which Miss Resdaile bought when she heard that the Queen had entrusted to the Central Committee an order for 75,000 woollen body belts for the troops to form part of her gift to them.

With 100 of her girls stranded through the cessation of wholesale orders for dresses she determined to try for some part of this contract - and was successful.  The Queen learned that 15,000 belts were made on these machines, and that, finding the young dressmakers' skill increasing so rapidly, their employers tendered to the Contracts Department of the Central Committee for a million pairs of socks.  The War Office accepted the tender, and there will be enough work for the hundred girls until well into the autumn.

The machinery was put in motion, and her Majesty watched the process of making the socks. She was informed that 3,000 dozen pairs a week could be made when the machinery was in full swing. Her Majesty also asked how the amount earned compared with the former pay, and was told that it was about the same, varying from £1 to 35s.

....On the next floor were the machines for making cap comforters, of which 6,000 are dispatched in fulfilment of a War Office order every Friday.  The Queen saw one girl working four power machines, and was told that on each machine one operator could turn out 250 yards of comforter each day.  Her Majesty asked to see the material cut and "over-locked," the final process, and then left amid enthusiastic cheering from a large crowd which had assembled.

The Queen's “Work for Women" Fund yesterday reached a total of £143,379 15s. 1d.

 [Miss Resdaile was clearly a very enterprising woman.  She bought knitting machines, trusting that her dressmakers could be trained to use them successfully, and immediately got the order for thousands of body belts.  She must have been very persuasive.  

The fact that a small workshop was making 1 million pairs of socks in a few months shows the huge demand for socks for the Army.  I doubt if the women busily knitting socks by hand could compete with the machines - I suspect that most of the millions of pairs consumed during the war were machine-made.] 

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