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1920's Electricians Payroll

In 1979 I got involved in buying a building services company called Couzens and Akers moments before it would have gone bust. The company had been founded in 1918 by the old Mr Couzens and had succeeded through the years. The nemesis was caused by the death of Mr Couzens and a contract at the BBC Pebble Mill. The BBC didn’t seem to want to pay for the work done!


I have kept the payroll book for the early years. I hope you enjoy looking it as much as I do. It is a fascinating window on the past.  You can download the Couzens and Akers payroll pdf here . It is quite large (3.6mb) in order that you can gain some idea of the feel of the document.

I have recreated the payroll for 20th May 1920 as a Excel spreadsheet which is shown below and which you can download here (wages 21 may 1920.xls). Trying to recreate the payroll for the 21st of May 1920 to use in a modern spreadsheet was an interesting challenge.

In 1920 the payrate was routinely expressed as either a payrate per hour or a payrate per 47 hour week.

The 2 measurements were simply multiplied up in the wage clerks head without a thought. To the modern mind doing this whilst remembering that there were 20 shillings to the pound and 12 pence to the shilling is difficult. 

The payrates varied between 5 old pence per hour up to  24 old pence per hour. If one corrects for inflation using the official figures we get the pay rates varying from 93p (for 5d) and 4.75( for 24d).Currently an electrician can expect to earn around £13 an hour. So he or she is now considerably better off.

However in 1920 income tax didn’t exist and the health stamp seems to have been about £1.00 a week in new terms. You got to take home what you had earned. So the highest take home pay in the week was 6 pounds 5 shillings and 8d  (£6/5/8) which equates to £255.10 in modern terms. 

The payroll was calculated by hand in the paybook that you see here and then would be paid out in cash to the operative every week. The payroll table is below.

 

Couzens and Akers Payroll 21st  May 1920

         
               
 

Time Hours

Payrate

Payrate

Wages Earned

Health  Ins

Expenses

Nett Pay

   

Old Pence Per Hr

New Pence Per Hr

Pounds

Pounds

Pounds

Pounds

M V Bowen

47

23.00

9.58

4.50

0.03

0.17

4.65

A E Maggs

54.5

23.00

9.58

5.22

0.03

1.05

6.25

J Hemming

54.5

6.89

2.87

1.57

0.00

1.05

2.62

H Hancox

47

8.68

3.62

1.70

0.02

0.10

1.78

T E Fisher

47

11.50

4.79

2.25

0.03

0.04

2.26

A Hunt

49.25

22.00

9.17

4.51

0.03

1.25

5.74

F Hatchard

49.25

24.50

10.21

5.03

0.03

1.25

6.25

A Pudge

50.875

11.00

4.58

2.33

0.03

0.05

2.35

E Woolrich

47

7.28

3.03

1.43

0.02

0.04

1.45

J F Harreis

47

28.09

11.70

5.50

0.00

0.00

5.50

F E Tinman

50.875

24.50

10.21

5.19

0.03

0.22

5.39

F Stone

47

24.00

10.00

4.70

0.03

0.41

5.09

F Hazell

46

23.25

9.69

4.46

0.03

0.15

4.58

W J Arnold

47

15.96

6.65

3.13

0.03

0.00

3.10

A E Burns

47

22.00

9.17

4.31

0.03

0.08

4.36

W F Mansfield

47

7.15

2.98

1.40

0.02

0.10

1.48

H Green

34

6.64

2.77

0.94

0.02

0.00

0.92

Amison

47

15.25

6.35

2.99

0.03

0.15

3.11

H Taylor

49.25

14.25

5.94

2.92

0.03

0.90

3.80

G H Gunner

54.5

23.00

9.58

5.22

0.03

1.09

6.28

A E Green

47

6.00

2.50

1.18

0.02

0.13

1.28

E Lloyd

47

23.00

9.58

4.50

0.03

0.04

4.51

B Blackwell

49.25

15.25

6.35

3.13

0.03

0.90

4.00

G Turnmill

54.5

5.62

2.34

1.28

0.02

0.00

1.25

B Grimes (left)

47

22.00

9.17

4.31

0.03

0.08

4.36

               

Total

     

83.69

0.59

9.24

92.35

 

The entire payroll for 25 people works out at less than £100. Don't you wish you'd ordered your electrical installation well in advance?

I have a similar document from another company I got involved with 1964 which I'll upload next week. Until then enjoy!