The Great War of 1914 to 1918 had a very adverse affect on the industry. Young men left to join the armed forces and markets contracted, especially overseas. None of the businesses closed but short time working became the normal practice. At one time some companies were working for only three days every fortnight.
Trade was being carried on in abnormal and difficult conditions. These conditions became steadily worse, and to increased scarcity and cost of labour, shortage of materials, reduction of output, and greatly increased costs of production, there was added the effect of new Government restrictions, felt to be no doubt excellent in their purpose, but irritating and anomalous in their incidence and most unsettling and prejudicial to trade in their ambiguity and in the constant amendment of their provisions.
A return obtained in February, 1917 showed that 45 per cent of the total number of male workers, irrespective of age, employed in the trade in Scotland had joined the Colours. It was felt that no other great industry could show a finer record. The industry suffered from the loss of many young men who were killed or disabled in the war. After the war production gradually picked up but it was not until 1924 that output was back to normal.
Three companies from Edinburgh, Leith and the Lothians that were affected during the war years were: -