I still remember the first time I read Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. I came across this video yesterday (via @Scott_Wegna & @R_Dart) and it prompted me to pull my copy off the shelf and start reading again. This film is about a decade earlier than Saturday Night, but it gives a nice bit of context for Arthur’s job at the bike factory.
On re-reading, I’m having a hard time picturing what part Arthur makes in the bike factory. Sillitoe describes him as working at a lathe and drilling and chamfering “cylinders.” My first thought was <a href=”http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_bo-z.html#bottom”>bottom brackets</a>, but the process in the film (at about 4:02) doesn’t seem to involve drilling or lathe work. Perhaps wheel hubs? The film notes at 11:39 that the assembly-line worker can pack over 1000 ball-bearing hubs in a day, not far off from the fourteen hundred a day Arthur turns out to earn his 14 pounds a week without having his piece rate reduced. Maybe even 3-speed hubs as at 11:51? After all, Sturmey-Archer was owned by Raleigh, the Nottingham bike manufacturer Arthur would have worked for.