Published 12th December 2017 | Articles

Made in Britain? Not necessarily but it could be…

Proud to be made in Britain

In the post war years, Britain’s standing in the world as number one manufacturer was undisputed. Everything was adorned proudly with “Made in England”.

Proud to be made in Britain

This stamp of origin was not only commonplace, but synonymous with high quality, technical innovation and was respected throughout the commonwealth and the rest of the world.

British Pathe were responsible for recording the golden years of British manufacturing as shown by these two informational films from the 50’s and 60’s.

A decline in British manufacturing

Since then, political decisions, cultural changes, global commerce and many other factors have witnessed a decline in British manufacturing.

The 1970’s automotive industry is stereotyped with poor manufacturing, quality and reliability.

British Car Manufacture

Not undeserved, but a little unfair if you focus on the word “British”. Not many automotive designs from anywhere in the world were immune from breakdown, rust and unreliability. Things were changing fast. Consumer demand rose exponentially, but manufacturing techniques did not advance at the same pace. The result was unavoidable.

Political storms including the 3 day week, fuel crises and union action allowed things to also slip. Enter stage right – Hong Kong. Many, many low cost consumer products, toys games, household goods etc… Made in Hong Kong or made in Taiwan.

The rise in low quality / low cost

The impending decline in British manufacturing left a large void very quickly filled by low cost labour, cheap materials and copied designs. The hungry consumer snapped up low quality, but low priced product with voracity.

Over the next 25 years, and the rise of China has seen them challenging the US as the largest economy in the world. Achieved solely through their manufacturing base,

To start with, cheap Chinese copies by unscrupulous manufacturing companies were the scourge of western commerce. These copies were still being bought by the consumers, however, those days are rapidly disappearing with the quality and ethics of Chinese output improving consistently. Other low cost regions, Eastern Europe, Brazil and particularly India, also still challenge for the Chinese crown.

Chinese ManufactureWhere does this leave British manufacturing? Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Honda, Bae Systems, Airbus, AstraZenica, GlaxoSmithKline, McLaren and the F1 fraternity and many other manufacturing facilities exist and are providing world beating product,  Ok, so they may not necessarily be British stake holdings, but they are nevertheless Made in Britain.

Britain design innovation

British design is very well respected which is why the Middle East use MK Electric plug socket and light switches, Malaysian business men cement their status by driving a Jaguar, foreign dignitaries are snapped by the paparazzi wearing this seasons Burberry,  and when you fly around the world in a Boeing US made airliner you may see the double R logo on the side of the engine pods.

Rolls Royce - British Engineering Innovation

With a global centre of excellence in Bio-Tech in Oxford and Cambridge, Britain still can lead the way. Institutions such at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and The Welding Institute in Cambridge, to name two, are constantly innovating and showing the world how to make stuff well.

There is a place for low cost region manufactured product, and it is our belief that the Chinese and Indian manufacturing industries deserve respect. The imperial attitude is long gone and we are now on a global platform.

And as such Britain still has the lead in innovation of design and a manufacturing network to back this up.

Made in the UK

At CDT we look to home first to produce our designs for our clients. This is not always possible dictated by financial and other commercial pressures, but in the UK, our supply network is creating quality components and products for the domestic and overseas market. Due to the legacy of the heydays, some of our clients including overseas clients want to leverage their market position by commissioning UK design and manufacturing so they can adorn their product with “Made in the UK”.

Manufactured in the UK

We may have many prestigious manufacturing sites now replaced by housing estates, but what we do have is pockets of excellence, expertise and innovation in industrial estates and business parks producing global market leading products, using advanced technology, 3D printing, CNC machinery, Injection moulding, textiles composites and material technologies, additive manufacturing, laser control, robotics and many other cutting edge techniques.


Ready to create your next project?

Find out how we – a product design company, based in Cambridge (UK) – can help you with your next product design project. Contact us on 01223 662300.


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