The 'Peace Arsenal' scheme : the campaign for non-munitions work at the Royal Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, after the First World War
Following the Armistice many Arsenal workers wanted to retain their well-paid employment. There was a well established community; there was little comparable work in the locality and accommodation was difficult to find elsewhere. In order to secure peacetime production at the Arsenal, the labour movement in Woolwich organised a campaign which drew in traders, councillors, ex-Servicemen and clerics. The effect of this was to aid the integration of the local labour movement into the national constitution which was being reconstructed at the time. Central aspects of this new constitution were an increase in the integration of representatives of labour and industry in the government, and a new role for the Labour Party. The reconstruction of the constitution involved a degree of economic and legal coercion, and the transmission of government propaganda. These were all orchestrated at national level. The new order also included the accommodation of the working class, which had become more assertive during the war. This meant that social stability could not simply be imposed; the new order had to involve the absorption of tensions and the encouragement of specific strands of working class tradition. The creation of common assumptions could not be done in Whitehall and Westminster alone, it required the active participation of the citizenry; a specific focus and contact with notions generated from within the working class. That the creation of the new order required these elements is shown through the particular circumstances of the causes, course and consequences of the 'Peace Arsenal 1 campaign. The campaign involved the chief architects of the new order, private armaments companies, the Cabinet and the civil service. It also it involved parochial notions derived from the experiences of Arsenal workers.