Lawn Road & The 1930s
Jack Pritchard


Jack Pritchard

©Monica Pidgeon

When I came down from Cambridge, I was fortunate: I was offered a job - in those days it was very hard to get jobs - with the Lewis Group in Manchester and Liverpool, by Frederick Marquis who became Lord Woolton. I turned him down. And then I was offered a job by the Michelin Tyre Company and I'm very glad I took it. Because there I learned scientific management - very salutary for a young undergraduate who "knew all the answers" and then finding himself he didn't. But very stupidly I left them. So I was out of work. I gave notice to Michelin so I was out of work for six months, and that wasn't at all a good thing to do. Then of course - miracle of miracles! Having done jobs like selling space for a magazine and that sort of thing, advertising space - that was no fun - I got a job with Venesta.


Le Corbusier Design For Venesta Stand At Building Trades Exhibition, London 1930

©Jack Pritchard, Laura Coates & Serban Cantacuzino

That really was the beginning of things. Venesta, manufacturers of plywood, had factories in Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and one in Paris. They were regarding their main product of plywood as a cheap substitute for solid and, of course, economic wise and engineering wise it seemed to be a nonsense. The problem was how to find new uses. At that time, I was just beginning to read about and hear about an extraordinary organisation called the Bauhaus. They seemed to be using materials in all sorts of strange ways. The young architects seemed to me to be the ones to look for. There seemed to be very few. There was Max Fry, there was Serge Chermayeff, and then of course Wells Coates. Now Wells was doing work for Cresta. I'm not sure whether he came to me or I went to him, but it became a sort of "back-scratching" business because I wanted photographs of how he was using plywood in a very straight-forward introductory way.

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