Newsletter – February 2009

February 10th, 2009 by JCope

Chairman Ray Porter opened the Society’s February meeting by welcoming visitors and new members, detailing the outing to the National Memorial Arboretum and St Giles’ Church, Cheadle on 25th April, inviting members and friends to the Social on 15th May, promoting Don Freeth’s War Memorial book and advertising the ramble to Leasowes Park on 15th February.

Presenting ‘Industrial Espionage in the Eighteenth Century’, our speaker, Dr Helen Smith began by setting the scene in post-Industrial Revolution Britain and describing how other countries, particularly France, wanted to emulate the success of British manufacturers.  Consequently, French manufacturers attempted to make their own ‘English’ goods – cloth, lace, glass, buttons and engineering.

The real nub of Dr Smith’s talk concerned the illicit recruitment of British workers, including those making Stourbridge glass, to produce these goods in France.  The ideal recruit was young, unmarried and Catholic and had to be prepared to bring his skills, knowledge and tools to his new employment.  Although the number of workers involved was very small, the impact of their ‘defection’ was huge.

All in all, this was a fascinating presentation, delivered in an accessible manner by a speaker who had thoroughly researched her topic.


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