Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:01 PM
I wrote this piece for another forum (and subsequently saw it reproduced, without attribution) based on the account in the History Of The Ministry of Munitions, Vol.XI
" Standard Small Arms was formed by Mr S J Waring (later Lord Waring, 1860-1940) of the Waring & Gillow concern ,together with a Mr Peterson, who was a man of standing in the Birmingham gun trade. They believed that the skills of the Birmingham gun trade were being neglected and could be more fully utilised in the war effort than they were. They planned to make all of the action and the nosecap, less magazines, screws and pins, and organise eight small firms and a number of individuals in the trade (probably outworkers, of whom a great many worked in the trade at that time). The barrels were to be subcontracted to Westley Richards and the wood to be cut by Waring & Gillow and Rudders & Payne (both these firms eventually dropped out). They contracted to supply rifles at 75/- each, which was the same price that BSA was paid. After a year or so it became apparent that the factory would never produce complete arms and it was instructed to produce four items; body with charger guide, bolt, bolt head and trigger guard. The company was to produce 1500 sets of components a week, rising to 4,000 when new machinery was installed. Other firms were contracted to produce less specialist items, the sets of components being delivered to Enfield for assembly in the bayonet shop, production of which was shifted to Wilkinsons and Sanderson Brothers & Newbold.
" The downside of this scheme was that it only allowed for the exact number of components needed. Thus assembly of rifles was held up for want of quite minor items which inexperienced firms were struggling to produce. The scheme was revised in 1916 and became known as the Rifle Components Pool, taking every component which the 'Big Three' could make in excess of their complete rifle production as well as all that Standard Small Arms could turn out, and those produced by the 'peddled scheme' firms. Ordnance could also draw on the pool for repair parts. A considerable stock of components was built up so that any of the Big Three could draw on it if short of some item, and this was done continuously by LSA, and occasionally by BSA, and by Enfield (the pool being on the spot). Standard Small Arms did not attain an output of 2,000 bodies a week until April 1917 and two years after the start of work only 5-6,000 had been produced. By this time SSA were in financial difficulties and a government loan had to be made to keep them going. On June 1st 1918 the factory became National Rifle Factory No.1 with Mr Peterson as superintendent and instructed to prepare for manufacture of components of the Farquhar-Hill automatic rifle, although NRF-marked SMLE bodies were made after this. SSA seem to have turned out 2,000-4,000 bodies a week, depending on the Ministry of Munitions' requirements at the time. "