Industry and work
Advert for Robertson's jams from the 1948 Lewisham Town Guide

Lewisham in 1948 was home to a variety of factories. 1947 figures show that Deptford had 133 factories employing over 10 workers and Lewisham 152. Deptford had a total of 338 factories and Lewisham 568, including the Robertson jam factory where 'Golden Shred' marmalade and other jams and preserves were made. It was opened in Catford in 1900 when Robertson's expanded outside Scotland, survived the war and closed in 1970. The total factory workforce in 1947 was 10,528 in Deptford and 11,317 in Lewisham.

Another major firm was Chiltonian Biscuits, based at Manor Lane, Lee. It was founded in 1908 when Arthur Chilton King purchased Perfecta Foods which had been trading in dog biscuits and poultry foods. In 1911, their baking plant was erected near Hither Green Railway Station. During the First World War they supplied the forces, and afterwards the product range expanded into fancy biscuits and a new and larger premises was constructed at Manor Lane, Lee in 1924-1925. During the Second World War the company supplied biscuits to the forces. The factory was restructured in 1945. UK production peaked in 1973. The company became became part of the Amalgamated Biscuits Group in 1980 and the Lee factory closed.

Aerial view of the Century Works

Lewisham was also the home of the Century Works, the factory of Elliott Brothers, the electrical engineers. The factory was built in 1900 and occupied a large site north-west of Lewisham Station. It specialised in the manufacture of electrical equipment including aircraft parts. The factory closed in the 1980s and housing now covers the site.

At the time of the London Olympics Sainsbury's were advertising in the local paper for 'Women shop assistants' with a starting wage of up to £3 15s per week (£3.75), rising to £4 5s pw (£4.25)


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