The brewery business was severely disrupted by the General Strike in May. Despite the lack of transport to shift raw materials or finished product and the consequential lack of sales, the Directors took the decision not to lay off any staff, recognising the hardship that this would cause in an age before the welfare state. This is the story.
In May 1926 the great General Strike broke out in Britain, when, led by the miners under their leader Mr. Cook, and the transport workers, a very high proportion of the whole work force downed tools.
The effect of this on the Brewery was fairly devastating, because fuel and raw materials could not get in, and the finished products could not get out. In the spirit of the time the effects of the strike were somewhat alleviated by voluntary effort; it was considered highly patriotic to rush off and learn to drive trains, lorries etc.
H & G Simonds operated, almost without realising it, a job-for-life ethic which would not have been unusual among many companies at the time. This meant that, despite declining revenues, no staff or workers were laid off during some five months that the strike lasted.
As a consequence, once the show got back on the road again, the grateful workers (some 1,200 of them) clubbed together to make a presentation to the family directors – namely a Grandfather clock made by William Barker of Wigan. This was accompanied by a splendid scroll written in a rather forelock-tugging tone, but which was appropriate to the time, and really does seem to reflect a genuine sense of gratitude. The presentation took place in 1927 and is fully described in the contemporary issue of the Hop Leaf Gazette. The clock was located in the Boardroom of the Bridge Street offices, until Courage closed it down in c1973 when it was moved to the new group HQ at Staines. On closure of the Staines offices, it was returned to the Simonds family.
The directors so honoured at the time were:-
George Blackall Simonds – Chairman
F.A. (Eric) Simonds – Managing Director
Fred Simonds – Company Secretary
John H. Simonds – A director of Barclays Bank, and Trustee for the Debenture Holders)
Cmdr Harry Simonds