Problems of economic mobilisation, 1939–41
in Northern Ireland in the Second World War
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Chapter 2 looks at the war economy in the first two years or so after 1939, including the impact of distance from London on the pace of mobilisation and how some of the region’s industries were affected by the conflict. The most important manufacturing industry in the region, linen, was more dependent on Europe for its raw material than virtually any other UK industry. Accordingly, the period 1939–40 was disastrous from this point of view and led to unemployment levels of about 37 per cent by the summer of 1940. The region was predominantly one of small- and medium-sized firms which were not always well placed to secure government contracts either directly or on a subcontract basis. In terms of manufacturing, Harland and Wolff was historically more self-sufficient than most UK shipbuilders, and this meant it had relatively weak links with other firms in the region. The implications of this are explored in this chapter, as are the experiences of some other industries in the Belfast and Derry areas.

Northern Ireland in the Second World War

Politics, economic mobilisation and society, 1939-45

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