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Office equipment composite pic
Vintage office equipment

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.

Production Control

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.

Ken Burnside pic
Ken Burnside - production manager

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.

Bill Gallagher - progress chaser pic
Bill Gallagher - progress chaser
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.

Sub-contract Department

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.

collection of publicity posters pic
Publicity posters

Publicity Department

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.

John McDermott with Clint Eastwood pic
John McDermott (publicity), girlfriend
Tina Franklin and Clint Eastwood at
Brands Hatch (1967) Read full article.

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.

Advert graphic pic
This striking advertising graphic from 1954 has an
interesting history attached to it,
that you can read about here .
Mike Marriott pic
Magazine journalist Peter Arnold being introduced to
Bert Colver by Press Relations Officer Mike Marriott.
Read full article 'A Matchless Quality' on the Links page.
(Courtesy Motor Cyclist Illustrated - March 1959)

Commissioning and distributing spares lists and maintenance manuals would be other necessary tasks.

Non-production Departments

office girls at front of firm pic
Office girls outside firm in Plumstead Road

Vital to all this work, though, and very often overlooked, were the many other staff members 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.

Office Personnel
Derek HubbleAccounts
Alfred LipscombeAccounts
Gladys Clark(3-year stay)
Jackie Lambell
Richard McQuade
? Saunders
Ena Ellis
Dickie AndersonPersonnel
Reg CoomberPersonnel (Manager)
Val MaddocksPersonnel
John MayPersonnel officer-apprentices
Bobby MoorePersonnel
Beryl ColliePurchasing
Ken BurnsidePurchasing/Prod planning
Walter Jones1950sPurchasing (senior purchaser)
Derek DixonPublicity
Ray KennardPublicity (Manager)
Mike MarriottPress relations officer
John McDermottPublicity - Brochures/PR
Erwin TragatcheTechnical Publications
Philip Heslop-LofthouseCatalogue design
William (Daddy) BarnesWelfare Officer
Sheila Lilian BassettTelephone Switchboard Operator
Kay Ford-StratfordWelfare/Enquiries - Office manager
Winnifred DenmanEnquiries
Barbara LangleyReception
Annie LyonsNurse
Anne WellsFirst Aid
Joan AndersonSecretary (to Jock West)
Jean ReidPA to Phil Walker
Joan ClarkProgress
Janet ColmanProgress
Vera DessontProgress
Bill GallagherProgress chaser
Don G GoldingProgress - Sub Contract Manager
Edie HazletonProgress
Bill MilkinsProgress - Rate fixer
John RourkeProgress - Senior chaser
Gwen ShawProgress
Gertrude Collier1909- 16Book keeper
Louisa Alice CollierShorthand typist
Freda CollierShorthand typist
Kathleen CollierTypist
George Scott1951 - 63Sales Manager (under Jock West)
John Kelleher1961 - 64Sub-Contracts (ex. trainee)
Tom McCartneyProduction Planning/Progress
? BryantTest/Time Office
Arthur JonesTimekeeper
Ted MeehanSecurity
Vi WelshTimekeepers Office