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Workers at Simpson's Gloves Factory

Framed Photograph - 1932 Christmas Party

Image: Framed Photograph - 1932 Christmas Party

Source: Museum Victoria

Peak employment at Simpson's Gloves was in the mid 1930s, when about 45 workers were employed at peak periods in handbag manufacture, and about 60 in gloves and coat manufacture. In addition there were 3 women in the office and salesroom, Amos Simpson and Henry Atkins as managers, 2 salesmen, a van driver and a tea lady.

There was a clear sexual division of labour in the factory. Men were employed to do the heavy manual work, such as cutting the leather, and carrying and sorting goods. Women were employed as assemblers and machinists and in the office. Prior to the 1950s most workers were from an Anglo-Celtic background, with many European migrants commencing in the 1950s and 1960s and Asian workers from the 1970s.

Women were able to start work at the factory at the age of 15. However Hazel Morgan managed to get a job there when she was 14, and had to hide in the toilet whenever the factory inspector called. Simpson's preferred to hire young women and train them on the job. The young women would work as an apprentice with a trained worker, and become independent after 4 years. Many women who worked as young women were re-employed following child-rearing.

Production was seasonal, as a majority of the company's products were directed at winter wear. Production was highest in the first half of the year, especially in April and May. For example, full-time employees averaged about 44 hours week for the first 6 months of 1930, working an additional 4-8 hours during mid-April. From July to the end of August, they averaged a 34 hour week, and 30 hours from September to November.

The factory appears to have been fully unionised, with workers being members of the Australian Saddlery Leather Sail Canvas Tanning Leather Dressing & Allied Workers Trades Employees Federation and later the Miscellaneous Workers Union. One objector to unions evidently had his union dues paid for him.

Archives:

The University of Melbourne Archives holds business records relating to the company, including ledgers, journals, wages books, time books and catalogues.

References:

Frances, Raelene (1986).'No More Amazons: Gender and Work in the Victorian Clothing Trades, 1880-1939', Labour History, no 50: 95-112.

Interviews with former managers and workers: Arthur Atkins (1989), Ernie Jordan (1989), Nell Marks (1989), Hazel Eddy & Gwen Simons (1990).

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 31 - 40) 400 items

  • Catalogue - Gazelda, Super Suede Golfers for Discerning Men, circa 1930s Document

    Catalogue - Gazelda, Super Suede Golfers for Discerning Men, circa 1930s

    Catalogue advertising Gazelda Super Suede golfers for discerning men, circa 1930s. It was used by Simpson's Gloves who were the sole agents for Gazelda products in Australia. Gazelda an ...

    Images: 6
  • Leaflet - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s Document

    Leaflet - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s

    Leaflet issued by J. Hewit & Sons Ltd, Tanners and Leather Dressers. City Tan Works, Edinburgh, circa 1950s-1970s. It would have been used by Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in sourcing materi ...

    Images: 1
  • Sample Card - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s Object

    Sample Card - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s

    Leather Sample Card from J. Hewit & Sons Ltd, Tanners and Leather Dressers. City Tan Works, Edinburgh, circa 1950s-1970s. It would have been used by Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in sourcing ...

    Images: 2
  • Leaflet - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s Document

    Leaflet - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s

    Leaflet issued by J. Hewit & Sons Ltd, Tanners and Leather Dressers. City Tan Works, Edinburgh, circa 1950s-1970s. It would have been used by Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in sourcing materi ...

    Images: 1
  • Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1936 Object

    Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1936

    Shade Card issued by Gazelda Ltd., Watford, England in 1936. Simpson's Gloves Pty. Ltd., Melbourne were the Sole Agents for Australia for Gazelda products. Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd was ...

    Images: 2
  • Sample Card - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s Object

    Sample Card - J Hewit & Sons Ltd, circa 1950s-1970s

    Leather Sample Card from J. Hewit & Sons Ltd, Tanners and Leather Dressers. City Tan Works, Edinburgh, circa 1950s-1970s. It would have been used by Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in sourcing ...

    Images: 2
  • Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1937 Object

    Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1937

    Shade Card issued by Gazelda Ltd., Watford, England in 1937. Simpson's Gloves Pty. Ltd., Melbourne were the Sole Agents for Australia for Gazelda products. Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd was ...

    Images: 2
  • Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1937 Object

    Shade Card - Gazelda Ltd, 1937

    Shade Card issued by Gazelda Ltd., Watford, England in 1937. Simpson's Gloves Pty. Ltd., Melbourne were the Sole Agents for Australia for Gazelda products. Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd was ...

    Images: 2
  • Handbag Frame - Metal, circa 1930s-1970s Object

    Handbag Frame - Metal, circa 1930s-1970s

    Metal handbag frame from the Simpson's Glove Factory, Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Leather handbags were introduced as a new production line at Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in 1930, they ...

    Images: 1
  • Handbag Frame - Brass, Turquoise Clasp, circa 1930s-1970s Object

    Handbag Frame - Brass, Turquoise Clasp, circa 1930s-1970s

    Brass handbag frame from the Simpson's Glove Factory, Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Leather handbags were introduced as a new production line at Simpson's Gloves Pty Ltd in 1930, they ...

    Images: 1
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