Keeping the workforce happy (and fit)

Although the products or services from a company help sales and make reputations it also has to be remembered that the people working for that company are just as important. The records of the Willans Works archive being catalogued at Warwickshire County Record Office show that the staff at the Rugby site were well looked after for leisure activities.

From the opening of the factory in 1897 the firms running the works (Willans & Robinson, English Electric, GEC and now Alstom) made sure that its workforce had plenty of opportunities to take part in sports and social events. These included athletics, football and cricket clubs. The works had a sports ground next to its site in Newbold Road, Rugby and because the company took on apprentices there were always plenty of fit, young men to make up the teams. Sports days were also regularly held.

The Willans & Robinson Athletic Club booklet for the 1909-1910 season ©Alstom Power Ltd

The Willans & Robinson Athletic Club booklet for the 1909-1910 season – CR4031/3/124 (reproduced by kind permission of Alstom Ltd)

An English Electric football team posing with trophies at the main entrance to the Rugby works. Can you help date or identify the team?

An English Electric football team posing with trophies at the main entrance to the Rugby works. Can you help date or identify the team? – CR4031/3/70 (reproduced by kind permission of Alstom Ltd)

There was also an annual cricket match between the management of the English Electric sites at Rugby and Stafford and the scorebook for the matches held between 1945 and 1964 shows that each side won eight times with two matches ending in a draw and one match being tied. Opportunities to play darts, tip and run, bowls, skittles and other sports were also available. Prizes were given at awards nights and in 1955 these included food and drink (more specifically spirits and dead poultry).

Prizes including poultry are given at the 1955 social club awards night held at the Rugby Works of English Electric

Prizes including poultry are handed out at the 1955 social club awards night held at the Rugby Works of English Electric – CR4031/3/294 (reproduced by kind permission of Alstom Ltd)

Dances and parties were also popular, including the annual works dance and Christmas parties where children would be entertained with music and get a visit from Santa Claus.

On stage entertainment at the English Electric Rugby Works children's 1957 Christmas party

On stage entertainment at the English Electric Rugby Works children’s 1957 Christmas party – CR4031/3/444 (reproduced by kind permission of Alstom Ltd)