I Want to be an Engineer - On the Job Training

  • Theme - Local Industry
  • Year - 1956
  • Location - Norwich
  • Filmmaker - Mr. Farrent


This clip is from a film produced in 1956, in order to promote engineering apprenticeships at Laurence, Scott and Electromotors, at that time one of Norwich’s principal and longest-established manufacturers of electrical equipment. Today, it offers a valuable insight into Norwich's once thriving manufacturing industry.

Following the Second World War, LSE recruited many of its new workers through apprenticeship schemes. In the late 40’s, the company offered twenty to thirty places a year for five-year apprenticeships which would train young men in a variety of fields. These placements offered to teach recent school-leavers to become fitters, armature winders, electricians, foundrymen, sheet metal workers, pattern makers or engineers, amongst other trades. The only requirement was that they had passed their School Certificate.

The film clip shows many young, local men training for these roles, under the supervision of more experienced employees. The majority of the apprentices joined LSE from Secondary Modern Schools in and around Norwich, whilst some others joined from local technical colleges. The boys are shown learning to use lathes and cutting tools and we see them fitting parts to larger pieces of machinery. The ‘essential’ and ‘interesting’ nature of their work is highlighted. LSE was in high demand during the 50’s, following the company’s contributions to engineering during the war. There is an emphasis on these young men building up necessary craftsmanship skills, their reward for diligence being a feeling of ‘great pride’. Even apprentices who were not particularly experienced in engineering were given the chance to try their hand at demanding jobs, in order to instil them with adult responsibility more quickly.

Laurence, Scott and Electromotors was first founded in 1883, by William Harding Scott and E.A. Paris. At the time, both men were working for the Hammond Electrical Company, but were persuaded to start their own firm after successfully delivering electric lighting to J.J. Colman’s Carrow mill. Colman helped the men to start up the new company, which had its initial premises in King Street.
Reginald Lawrence injected finance into LSE and became a partner in the late 1880’s. The company opened a generating station in the centre of Norwich around this time and sold power to the local council and to St. Andrews Hall, alongside a number of businesses. It was moved to a new site on Hardy Road soon afterwards, where it was able to expand even further. By the arrival of World War I, the firm had a workforce of over 500 men.

In 1927 a new branch was opened in Manchester. A decade later, LSE employed around 3000 workers across three sites. At the end of the Second World War and for many years afterwards, Norwich continued to be one of the major manufacturing cities in the UK. Over the last twenty years, the scale of the company’s operations in East Anglia has been dramatically reduced, however Laurence, Scott and Electromotors continues to be one of the premier producers of electrical motors in the world today.


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