General Electric Company, Coventry

The General Electric Company started trading in ‘Everything Electrical’ in 1889 at sites across the Midlands. Throughout the First and Second World Wars the company’s products for the war effort included radios, signal lamps and ammunitions.

Betty Leather started work at the Coventry GEC in 1955 aged 20 after working in her aunt’s grocery shop for five years after leaving school. Betty worked at the GEC until she retired. In the following extract listen to her explain how she left her job in her aunt’s shop on a Saturday and found work from the employment exchange the following Monday:

Betty: I went to the, I went and collected me cards, because you used to have your stamp cards then from her on the Monday. Tuesday I went to the employment, no I went to the employment exchange, Monday afternoon. Tuesday I had an interview and I started work on Wednesday…

Hilary …at…

Betty:…the GEC. And I earned five pound… two, five pound and a half a crown or five pound, bit half a crown, I don’t know which it was, it was one or other I earned when I first went there.

Hilary: And why did you go to the GEC, or you went to the employment exchange…

Betty: Yeah and they send me to the GEC to go onto the shop floor to work because them days they used to have, oh it was complicated, you didn’t have like you had then. Every wire was manually made, threaded through and everything and I went to go on the shop floor but the person that was, the other clerk and she was the clerk to the superintendent and when I went for this interview and somebody, she must have said, “What are you good at?”, and I said, I must have said down in the exchange, at the employment exchange at the GEC, “Well I like figures.” And I was told I was going to work in the offices.

Hilary : How did you feel about that?

Betty: I didn’t mind so long as I was working and getting some money you know

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