The Royal Ordnance Factory
Bridgend South Wales
Appendix 10 Currency Conversion and Inflation of the UK pound
Younger readers of this paper may not understand the relationship between the current currency and the older imperial system that used pound shillings and pence (£-s-d). This appendix has therefore been added as an aid to the younger reader.
Since decimalization on the 15 th February 1971theUK currency operates on a decimal system with the base unit being one penny with 100 pence to the pound.
The old system also used one penny as the base unit but this was one two hundred and fortieth of the pound ( 1/ 240), the following conversion table compares the old with the new.
The way of quoting the currency followed the following lines:
£1,500,000-10s-6d would transcribe into one million five hundred thousand pounds and ten shillings and six pence.
The notes in general circulation were the: Ten Shilling note (often referred to as the 10 Bob note), the One Pound Note (referred to as a quid), and Five Pound Note.
At this time the Guinea coin was not in general circulation although it was still legal tender.
In 1940 the average wage for a skilled worker such as a carpenter would be between £1 – 5s – 0d to £1 – 10s – 6d per week, in 2002 this equates to between £48.40 and £60 per week depending on the UK region. Although direct comparison is difficult (as the standards of living are radically different between then and now) it is possible to use a conversion factor of at least 50 between 1940 and 2002.
Wages in British Royal Ordnance Factories were high but the reader should note that these high wages were paid for a longer working week (typically 48 to 56 hours), for dangerous work with explosives and chemicals, and unsociable work patterns.
A typical female worker assembling explosive detonators, bomb Fuzes and the like would be paid circa £3 – 0s – 0d per week between £116 and £150 per week in 2002.
Although this seems a lot of money to pay young women it must be remembered that the hardships they endured then would certainly demand much higher wage today.
Other commodities were either valued differently in 1940 or did not exist so exact pricing of raw materials and services is difficult at best - so costing’s can only be scaled to give an overall impression of what these costs would mean in 2002.
Year 2001 retail price index (R.P.I.) tables are available from “The Economic History Services” on their web site. URL address: http://www.eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp/
The following conversion factors are taken from this site and the figures quoted in this document are based on these.