Be my Valentine


Our object of the month for February is featured in our current social history exhibition Join Our Club.

This poster advertises the BTH (British Thomson-Houston Co. Ltd.) Foremen’s Association St Valentine’s Dance on Thursday 14th February 1946 in the Co-Operative Hall, Chapel Street, Rugby.

British Thompson Houston was established in Rugby in 1902. Rugby was chosen as their first UK site due to its central location with excellent transport links and in 1902 the factory opened its doors at its Mill Road site. The company became known for production of heavy engineering equipment particularly steam turbines, electrical motors, generators, electrical lamps and meters. During the Second World War the site expanded to make room for the production of apparatus used in aircraft and submarines.  The workload was so great during this time that the Research Laboratories expanded by three times their normal size. A night shift was also introduced that included female staff for the first time.


As a large employer in the town care for employees was a high priority.  As well as the Foremen’s Association, there was an active Long Service Association and an Ex-Servicemen’s Association.  These encouraged comradeship and pride in the company.  There was also the Recreation Club with a wide range of sports activity.

The Foreman’s Association held regular social functions, visits and dances throughout this time.

At this Valentine’s Day dance there was music from Harvey Cawthorne’s orchestra and Tom Ward and his band. Harvey Cawthorne and his orchestra regularly played at old time dances in and around Rugby during the 1940s.

Tom Ward was well known in Rugby for leading a popular dance music band from the 1930s - 1960s. He also ran a music shop on Regent Street.