Wednesday 5 March 2014

Woolwich ignores new tech

The following article comes from an undated Harvey News.  Harveys were a large metal fabrication factory in the Woolwich Road - on the fire station site.  This issue of their company news is aimed at employees and the front page and the majority of its content is about the sports club.  The centre page spread is about a reorganisation of the accounts department.  The speaker in this account comes from Elliott Automation - the Lewisham based company then one of the world leaders in automation and ultimately computer technology.   My guess is that this issue of Harvey News comes from around 1966-7 by which time Elliotts were competing with the likes of IBM to supply large processing systems to commerce and industry (I was working for Computer Weekly by 1968 and I remember it all well!!  I thought it was all very exciting but seems I was the exception)
I am struggling not to say anything about heads in sand and the gradual demise of British industry in the following years,.

A well presented, excellent lecture, but a disappointing attendance. That was my reaction following a public lecture on 'Automation and its Social Implications' given by Dr. H. Thomas, consultant to Elliott-Automation Ltd., at Woolwich Polytechnic recently.

The disappointing attendance could not be blamed on lack of publicity, for in this firm alone; over 2,500 copies of the information referring to the lecture had been sent out. Other companies in the area had also informed their employees and over 1,500 posters had been sent out.

Lack of time or lack of interest could have been the reasons for such a poor showing.

Dr. Thomas presented the case for automation. He presented it full and with film illustrations. He answered questions that have been uppermost in the minds of people since the word automation first reared its head in conversation,

His lecture was to the point and controversial. He pulled no punches and he gave no quarter. In fact, some of his conclusions were new and implied that the problems to be faced were not those frequently expounded.

Sincerely and with great effect he laid it on the line. , and only a handful of people from Harveys and other companies were there to hear this excellent speaker.

Automation is here to stay, but some people prefer to believe that if they can't see it, it will go away. But it won't!

Dr. Thomas posed many problems to be thinking about and there should have been more people there, especially those who have the ultimate job of meeting and solving the problems.

1 comment:

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

Elliott Automation was a year or so later to be absorbed into the monster that became GEC, with lots of the computer interests shuffled off to ICL.
Where are they now? GEC changed name to Marconi in the early 2000s and then vanished in a puff of mistaken ambition, with the remains sold off to Ericsson. ICL declined and eventually became part of Fujitsu.
And the Lewisham site is partly occupied by the Tesco car park and partly by the blocks of flats that are gradually surrounding Lewisham station.