Deindustrialisation 1960-1980

Between 1960 and 1990, London's economy underwent structural change. All the capital's manufacturing firms were affected: many closed, many shed jobs, and London's industrial base shrunk dramatically. In 1960, manufacturing accounted for over 30% of London's wealth; by 1990 the figure had shrunk to under 11%.

During these 30 years, some of the familiar names in London's industry moved out of the capital or passed into history. Watney Mann and Truman closed all its London breweries between 1975 and 1990. Between 1979 and 1981, British Leyland closed down its A.E.C. bus plants in Park Royal and Southall, losing 3,500 jobs. Hoover moved out of London with a loss of 11,000 jobs. Ford shed 10,000 jobs.

Whitefriars glassworks in Harrow closed in 1980, bringing to an end a 200-year-old firm with a worldwide reputation for skilled craftsmanship. Westland moved its helicopter production from Hayes in West London to Yeovil in Somerset. The soap manufacturer Pears Limited closed its factory in Uxbridge in 1969 to build a new factory in Wales, before transferring all its production to India in the 1990s.

Deindustrialisation brought social problems and industrial disputes in its wake. Behind the statistics were countless stories of personal hardship and community disruption as jobs evaporated. More or less two thirds of the capital's manufacturing jobs disappeared within 20 years, leaving only 500,000 Londoners working in industry. Trade Unions tried in vain to protect the shrinking workforces and many factories closed in an atmosphere of recrimination between workers and bosses.

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