Just before Christmas 1904, the factory finished an order for the seating at the London Coliseum theatre, including “very handsome settees made of rich mahogany and inlaid”, and started another order for the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Employees had worked overtime, so it paid for their Christmas.
As a keen Methodist, Benjamin North recognised the important contribution his workers made to the success of the business and sought to reward them. For example, in 1909, 300 staff went to Weymouth by train and had steamboat trips along the coast and motor-car and charabanc tours. In 1910 they went to Portsmouth.
In September 1913 most employees were given a Monday afternoon off to either play in or watch an intra-company cricket match, the Machinists v the Rest. Afterwards 40 people had a tea at the pub and there was “lots of banter between the teams”.
In November 1913 a major industrial dispute started in Wycombe involving pay, working hours, safety etc. On 29November the manufacturers imposed a lock-out of Trade Union members. Two weeks later, 500 workers headed by the union band visited the factory at Piddington to encourage the workers to join the strike. However, only a dozen or so of North’s employees joined the Union, but “the machine shop was almost emptied”. The dispute was resolved in February 1914, with an agreement for a 54-hour working week and wages around 7d. (3p) per hour.