- 1937-c 1956 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
County Industries Ltd was set up as a subsidiary company of Rowntree and Co. to manufacture armaments for the war effort during World War Two. The company was formally established in October 1940, and permission to operate was granted by the Ministry of Supply in December 1940. The company closed down in March 1943.
The establishment of the company came about when, to show willingness to help the war-effort, Rowntrees offered part of the cocoa works to the Ministry of Supply, whom accepted this offer and equipped the factory for the work of filling fuzes. The available factory space was a result of the Ministry of Food’s restrictions on the manufacture of Rowntree’s regular, peace-time lines. Government funds paid the company £31000 in capital costs, and Rowntree anticipated profits of over £10000 per annum. The company was considered to be successful and filled over 6.5 million fuzes in their nearly three years of operation.
The plant was staffed with Rowntree managerial, technical and factory personnel. George Spencer Crossley was the production director of the company, N. G. Sparkes was the works manager and J. W. Osbourne was the senior overlooker. The company developed itself using the policy followed at Royal Ordnance Factories as a guide, with much inspiration being taken from the operations at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Chorley. Correspondence seeking information on factory operations was often sent to Chorley; and Crossley, Sparkes and Osbourne took a trip to the factory from the 8th until the 10th of January, 1941.
The company was closed down by the Ministry of Supply in 1943 because nationally, fuzes were in surplus. In addition, the latest phase of the war created demands on labour for the manufacture of ships and aircraft, which could only be met through the closing down of other factories.