emma robertson, michael pickering &
marek korczynski

And sometimes the whole room would be singing:

Music, Gender and Factory Labour Under Industrial Capitalism

How did industrialisation, and subsequently the uptake of broadcast music in factories, come to effect and replace pre-industrial musical forms, and how did women workers react to these changes?


She [a young girl] was making links for chain-harrows, and as she worked the heavy Oliver she sang a song. And I also saw her owner approach with a clenched fist and heard him say, “I’ll give you some golden hair was hanging down her back! Why don’t you get on with your work?”

Robert Sherard, White Slaves of England, 1897 1

Before industrialisation, singing at work was well-nigh ubiquitous. Men and women sang, individually and collectively, as they engaged in different tasks: ploughing, sewing, milking, weaving. Singing did not happen in parallel realms of “work” or “play” but instead infused all elements of daily life. After industrialisation, this all changed. As workers were organised into factory settings from the late eighteenth century with the introduction of machinery and mass-production methods and the imposition of management-led worker discipline in a wage-based economy, worker-centred singing cultures fell into decline. Introducing broadcast music into factories in the twentieth century, as an employer—and state-sponsored tactic, could only partially recreate rich song cultures from before the industrial era. Nevertheless, workers, especially women workers, managed to re-appropriate broadcast music and in doing so both accommodated themselves to and resisted modes of factory labour.

In this article we explore how the workplace has been an important, if not the most important, arena for creating and listening to music. The factory is a particularly contested site for the performance and consumption of music at work. Discussing the role of music in people’s working lives, through the optic of gender relations, offers crucial insights into the changing nature of both labour and music in the context of the structures of industrial capitalism, and especially offers insights into the agency of workers in the factory. While much has been written on certain forms of work song (the shanty and chain-gang song in particular), the great majority of songs historically sung in the workplace in Britain were not functionally oriented to labour, as in the work song, but served other purposes, feeding other values. Equally significantly, practices of singing and listening to music in the workplace, especially since industrialisation, have been sorely neglected. This neglect hampers our understanding of the continued relevance of music to working lives.

With the onset of industrialisation in Britain, the nature of work changed forever. Although it was a fragmented and piecemeal process across time and place, those workers who moved from agricultural to factory labour saw their workplace culture radically change with industrial conditions and work discipline. The textile industry led the way, with spinning—followed by weaving—the first sectors to be revolutionised by new technologies. The concentration of machines and workers into factory buildings and the intensification of production created noisy, dirty, dangerous workplaces on an unprecedented scale. Contemporary accounts often set up a romanticised contrast with a pastoral idyll of pre—or non-industrial labour. William Gardiner, who lived through the transition from hand to mechanised spinning at the turn of the nineteenth century, contrasted “girls spinning under the shade of the walnut trees, combining with their love songs the whizzing of their wheels” and the young workers in the factories, “too early pent up in spinning mills, amidst stunning noise.” Robert Blincoe, apprenticed to a Nottingham mill in 1799, was recorded as being “much terrified by the whirring motion and noise of the machinery, and not a little affected by the dust and flue with which he was half suffocated.”2 Such an environment was hardly conducive to singing, let alone singing’s enhancement of work.

On top of the noisy machinery, the first generation of factory workers faced new kinds of discipline imposed by factory masters. This discipline included bans on singing, whistling and even talking whilst working, in an attempt to focus workers’ minds on labour, destroying older working practices. Samuel Bamford (1788-1872), growing up in a handloom weaving family, saw song and hard work as hand-in-hand: “whole nights would be spent at the loom, the weavers occasionally striking up a hymn … Before Christmas we frequently sung to keep ourselves from sleep.”3 But irregular working practices did not suit employers who needed to run their machines at regular hours, extracting maximum effort from employees during these hours, and keeping watch over their expensive capital investments. In the 1830s, one young boy recounted the dramatic changes in his life to a middle-class observer. From tending pigs, he came to be employed in a textile factory: “With them I could shout and whistle, and do what I liked. Now, I am obliged to be silent.”4 Fines were issued for breaking rules, such as a shilling penalty for spinners caught whistling at Tyldesley near Manchester in 1823, or the six-pence fine for “talking to another, whistling, or singing” in a list of factory rules quoted by Engels in 1844.5 In some cases, employers imposed a particular moral order (especially on girl and women workers) by controlling the soundscape of the workplace. The Children’s Employment Commission of 1843 recorded that in one pin-making factory, a “fine of 3d is inflicted on any female who uses bad language, or sings a profane song: they sing a great deal, but are permitted only hymn tunes, of which they have a great variety”. The employment of women in industrial settings was clearly a source of anxiety to the Victorian middle classes.6 It was women workers who were to be targeted by employer-sponsored broadcast music in the twentieth-century factory.

Before we paint the era of industrialisation too heavy-handedly as a period of belligerent silencing of workers by heartless employers, we should acknowledge those factory masters who appreciated (or simply tolerated) the musical expression of their workforce. One mill-hand remembered his master from the 1820s as listening “with evident pleasure from the factory yard to the singing of hymns or religious pieces in the rooms”.7 For some of the more enlightened managers, music and productivity were not antithetical but could exist in harmony. There is evidence of management-sanctioned singing in the Quaker confectionery factories of the early twentieth century. Rowntree and Cadbury adopted short periods of singing for their female workers engaged in tasks such as chocolate packing. Rowntree even employed a violinist in 1905 to accompany the hymn singing at eleven o’clock each morning. These employers were concerned, even prior to Fordist rationalisation, that the nature of work was becoming increasingly repetitive and monotonous. They intended music to be beneficial in helping girls and women to cope with their work tasks, adjust to the factory system and work more effectively—indeed the revivalist hymns chosen often conveniently emphasised a deferred reward for earthly labours. The anonymous author of a piece in the 1905 Rowntree in-house journal, Cocoa Works Magazine, was convinced of the positive effect of singing: “we find that work goes on all the better when we are telling ourselves to ‘Work for the night is coming,’ and to ‘do with our might what our hands find to do.’”8 These officially-endorsed musical moments in the factory are nonetheless marked by their scarcity in the historical record. The overwhelming trend of industrialisation from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries was a silencing of the workforce.

This silencing is overwhelming certainly, but workers’ singing cultures were nevertheless remarkably resilient. Despite very real threats to singing at work in manufacturing industries, there is evidence of the survival of song produced by workers—if we only listen hard enough. Handloom weavers—who were predominantly men—previously had a strong musical tradition that persisted in the industrial setting. William Thom, the weaver poet, though prone to imaginative exaggeration, suggests the continuing power of song in an Aberdeen factory between 1814 and 1831: “‘Braes o’ Balquidder,’ and ‘Yon Burnside,’ … O! how they did ring above the rattling of a hundred shuttles! Let me again proclaim the debt we owe those Song Spirits, as they walked in melody from loom to loom, ministering to the low-hearted”.9 If such ministering was mainly directed towards male weavers, it is more generally women workers who dominate the historical record. This is partly related to the gendered spaces and hierarchies of factory work, in which women were often placed in single-sex groups completing the lowest-paid tasks, usually with the expectation that work would be temporary before marriage. Men had more to gain from acquiescence in the industrial system and could be more dispersed in the factory, employed in different kinds of labour (for example, as machine tenders, for whom listening to the sound of the machine for any indication of faults was crucial). In addition to these points it seems that, as new occupational identities were constructed, workplace music became increasingly associated with femininity. In the 1860s, one observer noted, “It is not uncommon in the rooms which are principally occupied by females to find … the noise of the machinery overpowered by the singing of a favourite hymn or a popular ballad”.10 Whilst such observations often serve to romanticise women’s factory labour, and their ability to cope with its demands, the evidence they provide of song surviving against the odds is supported elsewhere. Indeed, in both these examples, popular voices are powerful enough to defy the racket of industrial work.

Music was so important that workers would overcome the challenges of their environment and defy the rules—sometimes openly, sometimes covertly beyond the hearing of their employer—to sing out during their labour. Gracie Fields recalled in her autobiography how her fellow workers would cover for her so that she could entertain them with her singing in the interwar period:

the girls would be saying, “C’mon, Grace, give us a song and we’ll mind your frames.” Into the din and clatter of the machinery I’d bellow out every song I knew while the others would keep a look-out for the boss and give me the signal to pretend I was working as soon as he appeared.

She was fired for her performance when on one occasion her boss returned unexpectedly.11 The persistence into the twentieth century of explicit rules against whistling and singing suggest that self-made music had not been entirely eradicated. Even in the male-dominated sector of the railways, one Welsh company decreed that “Not an instance of intoxication, singing, whistling or hilarity while on duty will be overlooked, and besides being dismissed, the offender will be liable to punishment”.12

If the industrialisation of labour had not quite killed song controlled and produced by workers themselves in the workplace, the industrialisation of music itself threatened to finish the job. Scholars of musicology, most famously Theodor Adorno, have mourned the creation of a passive listener rather than active musical performer in an era of mass-produced commercial music. So was the alienated producer of the factory system now doomed to be alienated from the production of song? Studying the history of music in the workplace demands a more nuanced perspective, which enhances our understanding of changing relationships to both labour and singing.

Some employers introduced broadcast commercial music into their factories in a deliberate attempt to improve (or at least maintain) productivity and to negate some of the worst effects of an increasingly monotonous Taylorist and Fordist organisation of labour. One of the earliest examples dates from 1911:

Sir Robert Davies, Managing Director of Siebe, Gorman and Co. Ltd., claims to be one of the first employers to have music in his works. His employees used to have to march up and down at four miles an hour for two hours at a time testing breathing apparatus. In order to break the monotony he introduced a gramophone and played such stirring marches as “Soldiers of the King.”13

The Industrial Welfare movement of the 1930s reported on the efforts of its members, including the Bachelor’s Peas Company in 1938, to use gramophone records in their factories. These experiments with broadcast music were, however, relatively few and far between in the interwar period, remaining the preserve of a select group of more “enlightened” employers. These employers debated the merits of certain kinds of music to increase productivity, as did industrial psychologists, but the results were inconclusive and, certainly, instrumentalist in motivation.14 They missed the whole point of music at work from the worker’s perspective. The concern from that perspective was not with productivity but with the quality of labour, or at least the wresting of some small degree of pleasure to leaven the hours of mind-numbing toil. We shall come back to this issue later.

It was the experience of the Second World War that really brought the practice of broadcasting music in factories into widespread use. Governmental organisations, especially the Ministry of Production, brought their influence to bear on the BBC in the early stages of the war, in the belief that music might stimulate wartime production. Thus, in June 1940, the BBC launched the Music While You Work programme, which was specially designed for the industrial context and intended primarily for those workers employed in crucial war manufacturing such as munitions. It would be hard to overestimate the influence of this programme: the theme tune, “Calling All Workers,” became probably the most heard piece of music in the British Isles. Informed (if that is not too generous a word) by the research of the Industrial Welfare Society, the National Institute of Labour Management, and the Institute of Industrial Psychology, music was delivered in half-hour doses, scheduled at 10.30am and 3pm (with a third night-shift broadcast from 1942). Programme content was strictly regulated to conform to the following criteria: “a) rhythmical music b) non vocal (familiar vocals now accepted) c) no interruptions by announcements and d) maintain volume to overcome factory workshop noises” (BBC Memo, 1940). Musicians recording for the programme were instructed to “try to make the period one of unrelieved BRIGHTNESS and CHEERINESS” (BBC Report July 1940). Crucial from the employers’ perspective was that workers should not be distracted from their work by engaging too actively with the music (hence the fears around vocal music or the complicated rhythms in “hot jazz”). Although the objective of raising wartime output was certainly intertwined with a concern to humanise the workplace, it was ultimately productivity that came to the fore. A Ministry of Supply memo from 1942 summarised the position of the Ministry of Labour: “The avowed object of music-at-work is to stimulate production.”15

Music While You Work continued to be broadcast until 1967, accessible to both workplace and domestic listeners. During and after the war, some employers supplemented or replaced BBC broadcasts by playing gramophone records, which sometimes included Decca releases of specially selected music for factories. The United Biscuits Company went one step further, investing in their very own radio station, which went live in 1970. United Biscuits managers hoped to provide a “satisfaction substitute” to compensate for the monotonous work they blamed for a high turnover of staff.16 By the 1960s, however, there is an overall increased level of workers’ control over the form and type of music being broadcast. Transistor radios were brought into factory settings and tuned into the latest pop music, whether from the new pirate stations or, from 1967, BBC Radio One.

Music, then, persisted in factory settings, despite numerous challenges—from antagonistic employers through the sheer trials of the environment to the wider decline in self-made song. The actions of workers and employers contributed to the survival of forms of singing at work cultures, even if these were very much altered from the widespread pre-industrial patterns of song and singing. Indeed, managers came to adopt broadcast music in an attempt to stimulate production and to maintain worker morale in an increasingly alienated factory context. In the face of these developments, let us return to the question of what music meant to the workers.

Music in the workplace could still be experienced by some in functional ways—as giving a kind of rhythm to industrial tasks. Lillian Rawcliffe, a former confectionery worker, suggested that productivity was enhanced by broadcast music in the Rowntree factory: “You could work like billy-o with it, you know.”17 Nevertheless, music in the workplace had become divorced from some of the earlier pacing functions served by shanties or waulking songs. Indeed for some workers, especially male workers, music was a distraction (however pleasant) from the serious tasks at hand and could interfere with their preferred construction of the industrial soundscape: “it made it a lot pleasanter, and you know, you certainly couldn’t sing along to the songs, you certainly couldn’t. As I say your mind had to be focused on the biscuits” (Tommy Combe, retired United Biscuits worker); “I never saw spinners singing or whistling, they would be careful not to do so because it could sound like a hot bearing to one of the other workers. Remember these men (and me as engineer) were always listening for changes in the note of the machinery” (Stanley Graham, retired textile worker).18 For these male workers, active engagement with music was deeply problematic and antithetical to their occupational role and identity.

For pre-industrial singing at work cultures, the “function” of music did not preclude imaginative engagement with the song text; music served the purposes of both “fancy” and “function”. Taking British singing at work cultures as a whole, fancy even exceeded function in most cases.19 For Harry Cox (1885-1981), a farmworker who became renowned for his singing, music infused his everyday working life, no matter what the task: “You got a nice job, you used to sing all day long. … Anything that come to mind, like this here Blackberry Fold … Anything that come into my mind. … Oh yeah, I had all manner of fancies.”20 Even in the shanties that directly paced sailors’ labour, or in the rhythmic waulking songs performed by women pounding tweed in Scotland, there was room for creative embellishment that might simultaneously take the singers out of their immediate work task and allow them to complete it successfully. The “Rolling Home” shanty, for example, combined specific task-related instructions with deep emotion:

Call all hands to man the caps’n,
See the cable flaked down clear,
Now we’re sailing homeward bound, boys,
For the channel we will steer.
Chorus:
Rollin’ home, rollin’ home,
Rollin’ home across the sea,
Rollin’ home to dear old England,
Rollin’ home, fair land, to thee.21

Through song, work and play co-existed and were inextricably connected.

By the later industrial period, however, there is clear evidence that both the functional and imaginative engagement with song narratives had been reduced. Music (whether as self-produced song, or as broadcast commercial music) had become a survival mechanism for those engaged in monotonous, unfulfilling tasks, valued as much for being a distraction from the alienating hubbub of the factory as for its positive aesthetic qualities. Oral history interviews with current and retired factory workers frequently recall the power of music to get them through the shift: “we had Music While You Work to listen to, and you needed that to keep you going” (Margaret Kippin, munitions factory worker); “I think where you’ve got repetitive jobs doing t’same thing all t’time you would go mad if you didn’t have something. We loved it, t’music” (Jean Tutill, Rowntree worker).22 The monotonous, alienating work provided a context in which music played a crucial function in surviving a shift but it also limited the potential for workers to engage deeply with the music itself.

Whilst the above suggests how music could serve the purposes of industrial capitalism in accommodating workers to Taylorised work tasks, even forming a kind of “culture of consolation” for workers (to borrow Gareth Stedman Jones’ term), we must not curtail our analysis there. Music in industrial contexts could at times provide a means of expressing the voice of the workers—sometimes a resistant, even radical voice. In the 1940s, workers at the Cammell Laird shipyard adapted an old Irish song:

Oh Mary, Cammell Lairds
Is a wonderful place
But the wages they pay there
Is a bloody disgrace
They go in for the money
They come out at night
All they’re allowed is
3 minutes to …

The worker relaying this song to Henry Mooney, for his study of the shipyards, continued, “You know the word. It’s another true thing, too, is that. You’re only allowed 3 minutes to go to the toilet.”23 Listening and singing along to broadcast commercial music may have provided fewer opportunities for such creative adaptations. Yet we have numerous examples of workers giving new meanings to song lyrics in order to voice a critique of their employers and working conditions. In a contemporary ethnographic study of the “MacTells” firm (a window blind manufacturer), the following episode was noted in which workers appropriated song lyrics to communicate their dissatisfaction:

Angela and Shirley discussing numbers and Paula, a senior supervisor, calling them in again [to discipline them]. Angela is pissed off … Soon after this discussion … Angela sings [along] with some venom, the first few lines of “Another Brick in the Wall”, and then with extra emphasis, “We don’t need no thought control”.24

Given that commercialised broadcast music provides limited potential for creating new kinds of meanings (and barely alludes to the sphere of work), it is even more remarkable that workers continue to re-imagine and re-appropriate the lyrics of songs to make their voices heard.

Workers might also unite their voices in song to express resistance to their employers, or to their immediate supervisors, through the very act of singing itself. In 1912, in response to an attempt to ban singing and talking, women textile workers in Ireland asserted themselves through singing collectively. They challenged their employers to sack them all for breaking the ban.25 At Rowntree after the Second World War, women workers broke into song despite attempts at prohibition:

they’d about 12 or 14 women sat decorating [chocolates] … on each of these machines. And sometimes the whole room would be singing. And I have known the overlookers come out and tell them “be quiet” because they can’t concentrate in t’office … They’ll stop for a while and then they’ll start again. You know, and when Music While You Work came on, they’d just ignored what she said and they’d all sing.

Brian Sollitt, retired Rowntree worker26

Both these examples demonstrate the gendered nature of workplace culture. Male workers sometimes enjoyed listening to or occasionally participating in singing by women colleagues, but evidence of male collective singing in factory contexts is notably absent, particularly in contrast to other contexts of male labour (such as quarrying, or seafaring). This may be due to complex factors, including the more dispersed nature of men’s work in certain types of factories, the heavier machinery and other environmental conditions, as well as their construction of different kinds of occupational identities with more to gain from conforming to established factory discipline.

Workers sang together to give voice to a sense of community and in doing so enacted processes both of inclusion and exclusion through song. In contexts where there was still a good deal of worker-created music, as in the case of wartime munitions work, or in some of the factories in the first half of the twentieth century where music was permitted, this was particularly the case. Betty Messenger captured the singing culture of women in the spinning mills of Northern Ireland in the early twentieth century, where songs were framed to express relationships between both individual workers and the collective “we”:

Hi, Mary Dougherty, will you lay me up an end
Lay me up an end
Lay me up an end?
Hi, Mary Dougherty, will you lay me up an end,
For we are all behind.

Songs could also distinguish between distinct groups of workers within one factory—groups generally demarcated along gender lines. Women spinners performed the following song to tease the male band-tiers in the spinning room:

A for apple
P for pear,
She is the girl with the long yellow hair.
All the world will never, never know,
The love I have for the band tier-o.27

The act of singing could be intimately connected to the expression, indeed to the creation, of a happy, friendly working community: “And we used to sing, and all that, you know, it was jolly. … It was noisy, but get used to the noise … I remember we all used to be singing in harmony” (worker in the Macclesfield silk industry).28 A worker from the Aycliffe munitions factory during the Second World War remarked, “We were sort of the same, all our husbands and sweethearts away. We used to read each others’ letters … we liked all that sort of thing, and we sang all day and everything … sort of all togetherness—there was big tables that you worked on—it was really nice.”29 These forms of sung-communities could overcome differences of social class and background that affected workers brought together under wartime conditions. However, they tended to be highly localised and small-scale within the factory. A Mass Observation researcher, author of the War Factory study, recorded: “Now and then sporadic bursts of singing start in some part of the room or other and continue for a few minutes. It is usually a purely local affair, confined to the occupants of a few square yards of bench—nothing approaching community singing through the room ever develops.”30

Some workers found themselves at the margins of, or excluded by, these musical communities, which often reinforced an existing form of isolation due to a particular work task or status. During the Second World War, Amy Brooke wrote to her friend lamenting her exclusion from the singing culture she had enjoyed in her previous department: “all the girls in the next department are singing away like nightingales. Oh to be back at Welding Rods!” Similarly Jean Wynne found herself beyond the reach of tannoy music in a wartime munitions factory and found that this reinforced a sense of social isolation:

In the shell shop, you couldn’t hear anything because it was next to what we called the stamp shop, where the big hammers went boom, boom, boom all the time. You certainly couldn’t hear the music while you worked … I was actually lonely when I was in the works. I felt isolated.31

Such tales of musical/social exclusion starkly illustrate the power of music to enhance, even create, feelings of belonging to a community of workers. At the Rowntree factory, men employed in the noisy chocolate moulding section would deliberately reposition themselves so that they could hear broadcast music, if only for a short period. As Brian Sollitt remembered, “they always used to try and get to other end when it was music time.”

What can we learn from studying the history of music at work in Britain? First, we have demonstrated the damage industrial capitalism inflicted on singing at work practices—damage that lives on today. Looking closely at pre- and non-industrial workplaces reveals a culture of music in which play could infuse and enrich serious labour. No matter how resilient the workers, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the silencing effects of industrialisation impoverished working life. How did this happen? In part, the noisy, dirty conditions of the factory environment were to blame. Employer prohibition of music in an effort to gain control of the work sphere was also crucial. In the twentieth century, the development of Taylorism and Fordism—whereby labour became increasingly fragmented, repetitive and regimented—militated against an active song culture of imaginative fancy. The silencing of the workers, and their accompanying sense of alienation from their work tasks, is indeed a tragedy of industrialisation.

We might then read the reintroduction of music into factory contexts from the mid-twentieth century as a victory for the workers. However, initially at least, this was a top-down process geared to the needs of the employers rather than the employees. Music While You Work was another, if softer, method of managing workers and was not intended to allow them to recapture a sense of imaginative engagement with their labour, or even to provide a moment of fanciful escape. The music was not to be too engaging or distracting. The story of music in factory contexts teaches us much about the deadening effects of industrial capitalism, and industrialised music, on workplace cultures.

Yet what it teaches does not end there, for it tells us much about worker resistance and creativity, while also revealing the latent power of music. Even as music became increasingly professionalised and commercialised, we have heard people (especially women) singing out during their labour (accompanied and unaccompanied), and re-writing commercial song lyrics for their own purposes. We have heard the expression of dissatisfaction, protest, and humour in the factory through song. Music has been, and should continue to be, a powerful resource not only in coping with, but also in challenging, the demands of industrial capitalism. If we listen sympathetically to the songs of industrial labourers in the past, if we attend imaginatively to how these songs informed the experience of workers at their tasks, we may learn lessons for the future of work and for a workable, more life-enhancing future.


Acknowledgements:
The authors would especially like to thank all the individuals who generously gave their time to take part in the oral histories for this project—we hope we have done justice to your memories of music at work. We must also thank the Arts and Humanities Research Council for funding this research and Cambridge University Press for their publication of the monograph, Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain, 2013.

1. In Peter Keating, ed., Into Unknown England, 1866-1913: Selections from the Social Explorers, London: Fontana, 1976, p183.

2 William Gardiner, Music and Friends; or, Pleasant Recollections of a Dilettante, Vol. III, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1976; Leicester: Crossley and Clarke; Blincoe reprinted in J. R. Simmons Jnr (ed.), Factory Lives: Four Nineteenth-Century Working-Class Autobiographies, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2007.

3 Samuel Bamford, Passages in the Life of a Radical, vol. I, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1893, p.120.

4 Cited in Charles Wing, Evils of the Factory System Demonstrated by Parliamentary Evidence, London: Frank Cass, 1967 [1837], p.liii.

5 Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register, 30 August 1823; Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England, London: Penguin, 1968 [1845], p.202. For more on policies of prohibition, see Marek Korczynski, Mike Pickering and Emma Robertson, Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 147-56.

6 See Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, pp.162-5.

7 Benjamin Thomas Barton, Historical Gleanings of Bolton and District, Bolton, 1881-3, as quoted in Roger Elbourne, Music and Tradition in Early Industrial Lancashire, 1780-1840, Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer/ Rowman and Littlefield, 1980, pp. 60-1.

8 For full details see Emma Robertson, Mike Pickering and Marek Korczynski, “Harmonious Relations? Music at work in the Rowntree and Cadbury factories”, Business History, 49 (2), 2007: pp.211-34.

9 William Thom, Rhymes and Recollections of a Handloom Weaver, London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1847, pp.14-15.

10 John Watts, The Facts of the Cotton Famine, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1968 [1866], p.49.

11 Gracie Fields, Sing As We Go, London: Frederick Muller, 1960, p.28. For more on such fragments of singing in the factory, see Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, chapter 8.

12 Cited in David Craig, The Real Foundations: Literature and Social Change, London: Chatto & Windus, 1973, pp. 89-90.

13 Industrial Welfare, 1941.

14 On these early employer experiments, see Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, pp.206-9.

15 For a full discussion and further details of sources, see Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, pp.210-27.

16 For a brief history of the United Biscuits Network see Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, p.229.

17 Mrs Lillian Rawcliffe interviewed by Emma Robertson, 2000.

18 Tommy Combe interviewed by Emma Robertson, 2005; Stanley Graham, email to authors, August 2004.

19 Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, especially chapter 4.

20 Harry Cox, The Bonny Labouring Boy (Topic TSCD512D, 2000), liner notes by Paul Marsh, pp.26-7.

21 See Korczynski, Pickering and Robertson, Rhythms of Labour, pp.78-82 for this and more on shanties.

22 Margaret Kippin quoted in P. Schweitzer, L. Hilton and J. Moss (eds), What Did You Do in the War, Mum? London: Age Exchange Theatre Company, 1985, p.62; Mrs Jean Tutill interviewed by Emma Robertson, March 2005.

23 National Sound Archive, c900/10036 C1.

24 For full details of this study, see Marek Korczynski, “Stayin’ alive on the factory floor: an ethnography of the dialectics of music use in the workplace”, Poetics, 39 (2), 2011, pp.87-106.

25 Nora O’Brien, James Connolly: Portrait of a Rebel Father, Dublin: Four Masters, 1935, p.136.

26 Oral history recorded by Emma Robertson, 2005.

27 Betty Messenger, Picking Up the Linen Threads: A Study in Industrial Folklore, Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1980, pp.45, 76.

28 J. Norris, “‘Well fitted for females’: women in the Macclesfield silk industry’, in J. A. Jowitt and A. J. McIvor (eds.), Employers and Labour in the English Textile Industries, 1850-1939, London: Routledge, 1988, p. 193.

29 Imperial War Museum Sound Archive, Aycliffe, interview number 19695.

30 Mass Observation, War Factory, London: Victor Gollancz, 1943.

31 Letter from Amy Brooke in Margaretta Jolly, Dear Laughing Motorbyke: Letters from Women Welders of the Second World War, London: Scarlet, 1997, p.111; Wynne quoted in Mavis Nicholson (ed.), What Did You Do in the War, Mummy? London: Pimlico, 1995, p.204.


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