The occasion of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee seemed like a good excuse to delve back into the past to give a little snapshot of what life was like.
We always think of images of grubby-faced boys kicking a pig's bladder around brick-strewn back streets. Meanwhile girls in plaits and gingham dresses clapped out songs, skipped and played house.
For adults it was a question of back to work. So what was it like for ophthalmic opticians and dispensers (as both were then)?
Sad to say they were ' barely on speaking terms' by all accounts. Something I had also not fully appreciated was just how bad things were for the optical business back then. Later reports refer to the 50's slump.
With the populous fresh from the horrors and hardship of war they probably felt everyday was a blessing but looking back the stoicism with which the post-war British 'got on with it' is truly humbling.
The formation of the NHS had seen the optical industry and the Government agree to supply a range of products and exams at no charge. The population had, let's face it, put their lives on the line for the Governnent for the last six years. Testing would be free as would spectacles. The war had left the country short of manufacturing capacity, materials and skills so meeting the massive demand was not easy.
Those who lived through that time later reported that many opticians were driven to physical and mental breakdown by the workload. Patients found themselves waiting for up to two years to see their free NHS specs. The Government later introduced charges.
The effect on the industry of applying itslef to turning out massive amounts of standard products at agreed prices for the NHS was something industry watchers say damaged it for many years to come. One effect was to delay the adoption of the newly discovered CR39. When the then editor of The Optician, Bill Hardy, was told it would mean the end of glass he apparently said.' I've heard all of that before.'
Read the complete post at http://www.opticianonline.net/blogs/big-optometry-blog/2012/06/historical-notes.html
1 Jun 2012 11:52 AM
the big optometry blog
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