Summary. McGeoch’s Warwick Works bravely weathered the Birmingham Blitz. Post-WWII, McGeoch’s electronics skills drove innovation, especially in marine technology. Facing challenges, Warwick Works diversified, capitalising on booming shipbuilding and electronics. Our journey showcases resilience and adaptability.
Whilst McGeoch’s Warwick Works survived most of the Birmingham Blitz – in part due to the bravery and diligence of the works fire brigade headed by Captain Walter Heath, OBE – the company’s London Office at 48 Berners Street was not so lucky. One morning in the Autumn of 1940, a 1,000lb bomb completely demolished the premises leaving only the glass bowl of an electric light fitting hanging intact from a beam alongside an old photograph of the founder, William McGeoch, white-bearded and patriarchal.
Modern wars, as well as being associated with every conceivable kind of evil, also acted as a spring board for technology and particularly in the post war years of WWII, every kind of sophistication speeded up improvements and new inventions in aerodynamics, the internal combustion engine, marine and submarine design, radar and the whole field of electronics, a field in which McGeoch had particular skills and interest.
After the war the almost immediate cessation of Government contracts presented a challenge to manufacturers everywhere. For McGeoch, and especially the company’s Warwick Works, there was a strong need to diversify.
As predicted, the cream of transatlantic passenger trade would become more and more carried on huge aircraft leaving transatlantic liners having to earn their keep with winter cruises. Over the next few years, these became increasingly popular prompting shipping companies to invest in the building of new cruise liners. The demand for passenger-carrying car ferries also grew rapidly providing the shipyards with some fine building jobs and McGeoch with good orders for cabin brassfoundry. Ships would also have to be built for various special purposes including oceanography, fishing, fishing protection and lighthouse servicing and these created even more opportunities for McGeoch.
At Warwick Works in Birmingham regular enquires were also being received for components connected with the electronics industry including small control panels, multiple-pin plugs & sockets and indicator lights .Coupled with the award of a huge Government contract for marine switchboards, the development of these would point the company in a new and successful direction for many years to come.
The images below show various aspects of McGeoch Warwick Works in post war Birmingham.
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