Post-war economic change

The impact on industry and agriculture

There was a great decline in Scotland's industries after World War One:

  • The war had provided a temporary prop for industries such as coal mining, shipbuilding and engineering, and in some cases, boosted their production.
  • The introduction of new technology and production methods (such as automatic machinery and production assembly lines) improved output during the war. However, this threatened jobs as less manual labour was required.
  • In 1918, the fishing industry faced rising fuel costs and needed to repair and re-equip boats after war service.

After the war, the slump in international trade, the fall in orders for new ships and the adoption of new production methods combined to worsen the problems of Scottish heavy industries:

  • In the 1920s, employment in Scottish shipbuilding fell by 90 per cent.
  • In the face of foreign competition, over half of Scotland's iron furnaces were dismantled by 1927.
  • The coal industry employed a third fewer people in the 1920s than before the war.
  • Traditional export markets in Germany, Eastern Europe and Russia were lost due to revolution and post-war changes.