WITHERING ON THE VINE

 

Today the final TV set made in England is due to roll off the production line at Toshiba’s factory in Plymouth.

When John Logie Baird (August 13, 1888 – June 14, 1946) a Scottish engineer demonstrated his first television set to the world in 1926, a reporter from the Times wrote: "The image as transmitted was faint and often blurred, but substantiated the claim that through the ‘televisor’, as Mr Baird has named his apparatus, it is possible to transmit and reproduce instantly the details of movement, and such things as the play of expression on the face." From those cautious beginnings, Britain was to lead the world.

The closing of the Plymouth factory will leave the nation without one of its historical, life-changing industries, a technology,in mono chrome and colour, that the country invented. The names of Bush, Ferguson and Pye relegated to old copies of "Wireless World."  It follows in a long line of British enterprise, invention and production that consecutive governments have allowed to wither and perish. I mention just three:

 

1. The cotton mills of Lancashire, birthplace of the Industrial revolution, silent for 40 years are now either museums or expensive apartments lived in by the pseudo rich. The industy a victim of cheap, slave labour in Asia.

 

2. Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce came from very different backgrounds, with very different educations, until they met at the Midland Hotel in Manchester in 1904 and joined forces to build and sell motor cars. Two years later, the partnership had produced the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost: a car acclaimed as the "best in the world." The British army saved the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, re establishing car production. Short of light transport, in September 1945 the British Army placed a vital order for 20,000. The first few hundred cars went to personnel from the occupying forces, and to the German Post Office. So the wheel of fortune turned. Rolls-Royce Motors (1973–2003), since 2003, has been known as Bentley Motors Limited, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. Today the remainder of car production in Britain is owned by USA and Japan.

 

3. The Motorcycle industry was born in Birmingham. Between 1905 and 1965 the names of Norton, AJS, Matchless, Francis-Barnet, Ariel and Triumph were world famous. BSA for example had 72 factories, employing staff in their thousands and was a massive export earner for the nation. Japanese reverse engineering ie taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate [steal] the technology and the use of cheap labour, saw the demise of motorcycle production in Britain.

 

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