Since the 1980s and 1990s large swathes of the British manufacturing base have been destroyed. The loss of these sites of production have left many cities and towns struggling to define their economic function. Cities such as Liverpool and Coventry are now described as post-industrial. Once central to British economic expansion and strategy they are now encouraged to view themselves as service centres. The changing industrial landscape of these cities belies the de-industrialisation and shift in economic strategies. In Liverpool the central state buildings and nineteenth century heritage are still prominent. But dockland areas, factories and industrial sites have been transformed into offices, private housing or heritage hubs. Similarly in Coventry vast factories that were the fulcrum of British car and machine tool manufacturing throughout the twentieth century have disappeared and after a period of stagnation the city is in the midst of a programme of regeneration.
The oral history gathered included men and women’s experiences of working in a variety of environments across Liverpool and Coventry in the immediate postwar period. From the bustling docklands on the Mersey that presented opportunities to work in shipbuilding, bag warehouses or to join the Merchant Navy to the car manufacturers and machine tool factories such as Triumph, Alfred Herbert’s and Armstrong Whitworth that offered apprenticeships, labouring work and clerical work.