At the height of its production in the first half of the 1950s, the Associated Motor Cycles factory in Woolwich was turning out bikes at the rate of 60 or more machines per day, with 75% destined for the export market.
With a total workforce of around 1500 people, the company was dependent on the efforts of a considerable number of office staff to handle, what today would be called, the logistics of the enterprise.
Not only was close control over the factory manufacturing activity needed, to ensure that the parts required for assembly of the different models of bikes were coordinated efficiently, but a vast number of specialist items (bearings, electrics, tyres, etc.) also had to be sourced, ordered and their deliveries scheduled and monitored.
All these tasks would have been carried out by the teams of people employed in the production control and purchasing
departments, situated on the ground floor but separate from the factory.
In turn, they depended on the work of the accounts department, to check and pay the bills, and the stores team to receive and organise all the deliveries from the outside suppliers.
The day-to-day coordination of the flow of parts throughout the factory was handled by a large team of progress chasers.
They would be in constant motion from department to department, checking and directing each batch of work through its various machining and treatment shops, and finally into the stores.
Cards would accompany every bin of parts, giving the route that it had to follow, according to the instructions issued by the production planning staff.
In the latter years of the '50s, when AMC's motorcycle sales first started to decline, a sub-contract department was set up to take
on work from other outside firms, in order to keep our own men and machines fully occupied.
John Kelleher (son of joint managing director, Jack Kelleher), who had just completed his 3-years in the factory as a trainee, was given the job to organise this new venture.
He succeeded in bringing in diesel engine tooling work from Lister and Perkins Marine, various Ford gearbox components for the excellently equipped gearcutting department, machining of industrial lawnmower parts for the milling and drilling bays, and even the stamping-out of Mobo rocking horse body halves that utilised the press bay's largest 300-ton machine.
Of equal importance to managing the factory's production facility was the need to maintain the customer demand for the bikes being rolled off the assembly line.
This work was the responsibility of the sales and publicity departments at AMC who, between them, produced the advertising that featured on dealer posters and in the various motor cycle magazines.
The various team members would have the job of organising photography of the company's range of bikes, producing the 'mouth-watering' descriptions of their features and performance, as well as ensuring that their advertisements and press releases were placed in the dealer posters, in the various motorcycle magazines and in the publicity pamphlets.
Commissioning and distributing spares lists and maintenance manuals would be other necessary tasks.
Vital to all this work, though, and very often overlooked, were the many other non-production staff who carried out the ancillary roles necessary for the smooth running of the company.
These included the personnel, welfare and first aid functions, manning the switchboard and enquiries desk, keeping a check on timekeeping and security, and (most important) calculating and paying out the weekly wages.
Common to most firms of the same era, the loyalty and work ethics of all the staff were key factors in the efficient running of the company.
As one of the largest employers in the area (the Woolwich Arsenal being another), and requiring a large range of skills and experience, many more opportunities existed for the local people than would otherwise have been on offer.
Over the years, this resulted in many members of the same families being employed in different parts of the firm, some extending over several generations, demonstrating their long-term commitment to the future of the company.
|Gladys Clark||(3-year stay)|
|Reg Coomber||Personnel (Manager)|
|John May||Personnel officer-apprentices|
|Ken Burnside||Purchasing/Prod planning|
|Walter Jones||1950s||Purchasing (senior purchaser)|
|Ray Kennard||Publicity (Manager)|
|John McDermott||Publicity - Brochures/PR|
|Erwin Tragatche||Technical Publications|
|Philip Heslop-Lofthouse||Catalogue design|
|William (Daddy) Barnes||Welfare Officer|
|Sheila Lilian Bassett||Telephone Switchboard Operator|
|Kay Ford-Stratford||Welfare/Enquiries - Office manager|
|Anne Wells||First Aid|
|Joan Anderson||Secretary (to Jock West)|
|Jean Reid||PA to Phil Walker|
|Bill Gallagher||Progress chaser|
|Don G Golding||Progress - Sub Contract Manager|
|Bill Milkins||Progress - Rate fixer|
|John Rourke||Progress - Senior chaser|
|Gertrude Collier||1909- 16||Book keeper|
|Louisa Alice Collier||Shorthand typist|
|Freda Collier||Shorthand typist|
|George Scott||1951 - 63||Sales Manager (under Jock West)|
|John Kelleher||1961 - 64||Sub-Contracts (ex. trainee)|
|Tom McCartney||Production Planning/Progress|
|? Bryant||Test/Time Office|
|Vi Welsh||Timekeepers Office|