'There's more to business than the pursuit of profit': The printed culture of the Owen Organisation, 1946-1961'
Category: Ph.D. Research
This research, funded by the AHRC, explores the printed culture of the Owen Organisation, a group of companies which became the largest, privately owned engineering firm in Great Britain. It presents an alternative view of our industrial past to traditional economic and business histories by setting out articles published by workers and managers in their employee magazines: Goodwill, The R. O. News and The Eaglet. For whilst the engineering outputs of the company are well-known, including components for the Mini and the first all British-made Formula One car to win the constructor’s championship, the cultural outputs of its workers are largely ignored.
The people of the Owen Organisation had many talents, encompassing photography, creative writing, art, sport, public performance and comedy. They displayed their arts – created thanks to the vast sports and social facilities provided by the company – through their in-house publications. The sports fields and youth clubs of the Owen Organisation are long-gone; eradicated during the firm’s almost-total collapse in 1980. Its magazines, however, are preserved in the company archive; a set of cultural artefacts produced by a people following (in their own way) the philosophy of the company’s chairman Alfred George Beech Owen: that there was more to business, and indeed to Britain, than the pursuit of profit.