London in the 1930s tried to be cleaner, more modern and efficient. It was increasingly a city of electric lighting and motor vechicles, rather than gas lighting and horse-drawn vehicles.The Capital's old problems were being tackled by new public bodies. The London Passenger Transport Board was created in 1933 as a way of bringing all the capital's transport providers together. The General Post Office completed the automation of London's telephone exchanges.

The decade was dominated by the growing threat of fascism in Europe. Bitter clashes between English supporters of fascism and their opponents took place in central London and the East End. German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution, began to arrive, many settling in Hampstead. War with Germany began to look inevitable and the decade ended with preparations to evacuate London's children.

London's population, 1931

Greater London: 8,110 358 people
Inner London: 4,397,003 people

London's economy and jobs

London escaped the depression that decimated industries elsewhere in Britain during the 1930s. Although unemployment rates rose, London had a high proportion of new 'sunrise' industries, making electrical equipment, food and consumer goods. By 1938 London had 36,911 factories employing 743,173 people. The capital's main industrial sectors were engineering (230,000 jobs), clothing and shoes (180,000 jobs), food and drink (90,000 jobs), furniture (70,000 jobs) and printing and paper (67,000 jobs).

Light industry continued to move west: Hoover, EMI and Coty all built smart new factories along the western arterial roads. On the east side of London the American car manufacturer Ford opened a mammoth factory at Dagenham in 1931. This factory was designed to make cars for the British market and for export, through London, to European and world markets.

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