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Object Insight - The Alfred Herbert News

The Alfred Herbert News was the staff magazine for Alfred Herbert Ltd. The front cover of this issue from 1940 shows a woman working in the grinding department with the slogan Our Women Operators “Go To It”.

Alfred Herbert Ltd was based in Coventry and at one time was one of the largest machine tools companies in the world. The firm was founded in 1888 and originally made boilers and general engineering equipment, but soon began to manufacture machine tools. 

Sir Alfred Herbert was an advocate of employing women workers during wartime and employed a large number of women in both world wars. During the First World War, Alfred Herbert Ltd became a government-sponsored producer of munitions. Herbert himself took on the role of controller of machine tools in the Ministry of Munitions. He used these experiences to encourage other employers to recruit more women at the beginning of the Second World War. He was critical of employers who still held prejudices about women workers. He felt that companies should be proactive in the employment of women in order to meet the labour shortage created by men going to war. By July 1940 Alfred Herbert employed over 1,000 women. 

Herbert was also an early adopter of safety and welfare programmes, and even sent food to workers who had fallen on hard times. Clubs, societies and sports were encouraged by the company and often promoted in The Alfred Herbert News. The first issue of the magazine was published in December 1926. It was published monthly and distributed free to all employees.

We hold many copies of The Alfred Herbert News in the museum and archive collections dating from 1927 until 1967, as well as Alfred Herbert Ltd company records in the History Centre. You can see this issue on display in the History Gallery at the museum where you can find out more about Coventry in the Second World War.

Charlene Price
Social History Curatorial Trainee