The Post-War Boom
For the youngsters who did enter the industry there were improved training methods and welfare facilities. Canteens had been introduced during the war, and these paved the way for rest-rooms, sick bays with trained nursing staff and day nurseries to attract young adults into the mills. The number of non-English speaking recruits, and the difficulty in communication over the noise of the machinery led to the establishment of training schools away from the shed, and scientific training. Each process was explained to the trainees, who then carried out the movement on a loom.
Another post-war development was social clubs for the younger members of some of the larger firms. These were promoted by the personnel department and were designed to encourage an identity with the firm, and also help youngsters who might have to move to another mill in the group, so that they would know some of the workers at the new site.
The industry was experiencing a boom. Someone thought up the slogan “Britain's bread hangs by Lancashire's Thread" exhorting weavers to do their utmost to increase production. Conditions were now right for the introduction of new machinery. An automatic loom which enabled a weaver to take charge of 20 to 25 looms had been developed in the late 19th Century, and built in Blackburn since 1903. The machines had not been considered a success when tried out in Blackburn. Also most large weaving sheds had installed new looms in the 1890s, so were not ready to re-equip when the new looms appeared.
Between the wars with a falling demand for Lancashire cloth, and many unemployed weavers, was largely a time of loom scrapping. Now, with sales increasing and a shortage of weavers, conditions were right for automatic looms, and large numbers were installed between 1948 and 1950. Often a loom shed had to be rebuilt to fit the looms, as they were much wider than Lancashire looms, and the pillars supporting the roof were spaced wrongly. New building techniques enabled the number of pillars to be greatly reduced, producing a much more open plan.