British naval armaments, cartels, and defence planning between the world wars

Miller, C. (2016) British naval armaments, cartels, and defence planning between the world wars. Entreprises et histoire, 85(1), pp. 70-87.

136268.pdf - Published Version


Publisher's URL:


The private naval armaments industry in Britain between the wars comprised around fifteen large firms which supplied and constructed almost every part of every warship over one thousand tons between the Armistice and the outbreak of the Second World War. Most long predated 1914, and were trusted implicitly by their main customer, the Admiralty. The relationship between these firms and the British state is of interest to historians: disarmament posed problems for the retention of capacity of private industry and the ability to meet the demands for rapid naval expansion that were later placed upon Britain, creating significant challenges for defence planners. This article shows how private industry reacted to the challenges of disarmament and later collaborated to profit from rearmament. In doing so it argues that this was allowed to occur because the Admiralty was not given tools by Cabinet and the Treasury to preserve industrial capacity, and thus despite the conspiracy to profiteer within private industry, the formation of a warship building cartel probably saved the governments of the 1920s and 1930s from themselves.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Miller, Dr Christopher
Authors: Miller, C.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Research Group:Centre for Business History in Scotland
Journal Name:Entreprises et histoire
Publisher:Editions ESKA
ISSN (Online):2100-9864
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Éditions ESKA
First Published:First published in Entreprises et histoire 85(1): 70-87
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the Publisher

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record