Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 01

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Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 1 1947

Board of Trade

Working Party Reports





His Majesty's Stationery Office
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 2 1947


List of Members

chairman: Mr. Clough Williams-Ellis, M.C., J.P., F.R.I.B.A.

Representatives of Employers

Representatives of Trade Unions

Mr. Howard Fletcher Mr. W. E. Evans
Mr. Sven Fogelberg Mr. H. Perry
Dr. William Maskill, B.Sc, A.R.C.S., Ph.D. Mr. C. D. Stanier
Mr. F. H. Stuart Mr. J. T. Wilson

Independent Members

Mr. Geoffrey E. Dunn
Mr. H. N. Hume, C.B.E., M.C.
Prof. H. Moore, D.Sc, A.R.C.S., F.Inst.P.
Mr. J. Twomey, O.B.E., M.Sc, F.S.M.A.

Secretary : Mr. J. J. Breslin

Assistant Secretaries : Mr. C. H. Johns, Mr. W. W. Jordan



Mr. G. E. Dunn (Chairman)
Mr. W. E. Evans
Mr. S. Fogelberg
Mr. C. D. Stanier
Mr. G. W. Stuart


Mr. W. H. Aston
Mr. G.E.Dunn
Mr. W. Farquharson
Mr. S. Fogelberg
Mr. F. G. Gregory
Mr. S. Harvey
Mr. G. L. Hill
Mr. J. Twomey (Chairman)

Recruitment of Labour

Dr. W. Maskill
Prof. H. Moore (Chairman)
Mr. C. D. Stanier
Lt.-Col. R. S. Williams-Thomas



Mr. H. Fletcher
Mr. H. N. Hume (Chairman)
Mr. W. G. Riley
Mr. C. D. Stanier
Mr. E. M. Stuart
Mr. J. T. Wilson


Mr. W. E. Cook
Mr W. E. Evans
Mr S. Fogelberg
Mr. P. Guest
Mr. S. Harvey
Dr. A. Kray
Dr W. Maskill
Prof. H. Moore
Mr. K. Northwood
Mr. H. Perry
Mr. A. D. Price
Mr. J. Twomey (Chairman)
Mr. W. J. Wilson

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 3 1947

To the President of the Board of Trade


You announced in the House of Common on 11th March, 1945, our appointment as a Working Party. Our terms of reference were :—

“to examine and enquire into the various schemes and suggestions put forward for improvements of organisation, production and distribution methods in the Hand-Blown Domestic Glassware Industry and to report on the steps which should be taken in the national interest to strengthen the industry and to render it more stable and more capable of meeting competition in the home and foreign markets.”

It was, however, made clear that matters concerning the relations between employers and employees, which are dealt with by employers’ federations and trade unions, should be outside the scope of our enquiry.

You left us to decide what area our investigations should cover. We decided unanimously to consider the hand-blown lead crystal glass industry in this country as a whole, and not in the Stourbridge area only.

We now submit our report.

We appointed Sub-Committees dealing with Finance, Design, Production, Marketing and Recruitment of Labour. These Sub-committees have held 23 meetings, whilst the Working Party itself has met on 20 occasions. All but six of these meetings were held at Stourbridge.

We sent missions to study the domestic glassware industries in Sweden and U.S.A., and we have found the reports which they submitted to us on their return of much value when preparing this report.

Though well aware that many of the difficulties with which the glass industry is, has been, or may be confronted are by no means confined to this section of the industry, we have none the less briefly referred to these general difficulties and made such recommendations for overcoming them within our own craft as seemed possible. Obstacles to prosperity having a special significance for the glass industry — sometimes indeed peculiar to it or else internal and domestic in nature — have been studied with particular care as required by our terms of reference.

Past history has only been recalled in so far as it seemed essential to an under­standing of the present, and none of the great mass of evidence taken or infor­mation accumulated is here quoted, or even referred to, except when it appeared to be strictly necessary to justify some conclusion reached or to explain a recommendation.

Generally we have felt that, now wise after the event, it is fairly easy to see the causes of depression in the past. Sometimes it has been the policy of our own or other Governments, sometimes fashion or technological changes, new trade currents, or some other cause or combination of causes. But the industry itself cannot escape some responsibility, for it must be admitted that it has failed to anticipate some of the trends and to organise itself to meet them.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 4 1947

With present conditions and prospects so markedly different from those of the past — from those of the inter-war years in particular — it seemed to us not merely profitless but positively dangerous to regard, say, lessons seemingly taught by the experience of the 1920’s and ’30’s as necessarily still valid for the ’40’s and ’50’s. Briefly we have tried to present a clear outline sketch of the industry sufficient only for a general understanding of its working, to indicate the main difficulties that now seem to obstruct the way to increased prosperity, and to make such specific recommendations for action whether by the Government or by the industry itself as appeared to us most likely to be helpful.


We are greatly obliged to the following gentlemen who have given us most valuable assistance by serving as co-opted members of our various Sub-Committees :—

Design Mr. G. W. Stuart (Stuart & Sons, Ltd.)
Finance Mr. W. G. Riley (John Walsh Walsh, Ltd.)
  Mr. E. M. Stuart (Stuart & Sons, Ltd.)
Marketing Mr. W. H. Aston (Stourbridge Glass Co., Ltd.)
  Mr. W. Farquharson (John Walsh Walsh, Ltd.)
  Mr. F. G. Gregory (Thos. Webb & Corbett, Ltd.)
  Mr. S. Harvey (Harbridge Crystal Glass Co., Ltd.)
  Mr. G. L. Hill (Stevens & Williams, Ltd.)
Production Mr. W. E. Cook (Stuart & Sons, Ltd.)
  Mr. P. Guest (Thos. Webb & Corbett, Ltd.)
  Mr. S. Harvey (Harbridge Crystal Glass Co., Ltd.)
  Dr. A. Kray (John Walsh Walsh, Ltd.)
  Mr. K. Northwood (Stevens & Williams, Ltd.)
  Mr. A. D. Price (Stourbridge Glass Co., Ltd.)
  Mr. W. J. Wilson (James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars), Ltd.)
Recruitment of Labour Lt.-Col. R. S. Williams-Thomas (Stevens & Williams, Ltd.)

We are also very grateful to those persons and organisations who provided us with oral or written evidence, and particularly to the following :— The Board of Management, Edinburgh College of Art The Council of Industrial Design

Mr. E. M. Dinkel, Principal, Stourbridge School of Art and Crafts Mr. A. Garstang, of King, Taudevin& Gregson, Ltd. (to whom we are indebted for the plan of an ideal glasshouse layout which is described and illustrated in this report)

Mr. D. Goodlet, of British Hartford-Fairmont Syndicate, Ltd. Mr. T. H. Hayward, of T. Hayward & Co. Ltd.

The Industrial Design Committee of the Glass Manufacturers’ Federation Mr. R.Y. Logan, Director of Education for Worcestershire Mr. G. McOnie (who was released at our request by Pilkington Bros., Ltd., to make a survey of the industry and whose report is included as Appendix (A) to our report)

Dr. C. MacRae, Secretary of the Scottish Council Mr. L. Wallbank, of W. H. Rhodes, Ltd. Mr. J. Wing, of Selfridges, Ltd.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 5 1947

We wish also to express our thanks to those firms in the industry who made available their Board Rooms for our meetings.

We are indebted to the Central Office of Information for providing the photo­graphs which illustrate this report.

We wish to acknowledge the very great assistance which we have received from the Midland Regional Office of the Board of Trade in making arrangements for our meetings and providing transport, and in the recording and duplication of our minutes and report.

We wish to thank also all those manufacturers, trade union representatives, trade association officials and others, in the United States and Sweden, who received our delegations to those countries in so kindly and hospitable a way, and helped them so much in their enquiries. We wish to thank also those of our Diplomatic and Consular Officials in Washington, New York and Stockholm on whom fell the burden of arranging the programmes for the delegations and securing the co-operation of the glass industry in the United States and in Sweden.

Finally, we would particularly wish to record our indebtedness to our Secre­tary, Mr. J. J. Breslin, through whose devoted labours our own have been so greatly lightened, and also to those who have in turn been our Assistant Secretary, Mr. C. H. Johns and Mr. W. W. Jordan.

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 6 1947




Acid Polishing Restoring the polished surface to cut glass by immersion in an acid bath.
Annealing Removal of strain in glass by controlled cooling.
Batch Mixture of ingredients for glass.
Blanks Undecorated glassware.
Blowing Iron Iron tube on which glass is blown to shape.
Burning-Off Removal of moil by melting.
Chair Team of glassmakers.
Cord and Stones Defects in glass (descriptive).
Cracking-Off Removal of moil by scoring and localised heating.
Crystal, Full, Half, Lead Full and lead crystal — potash glass containing about 30 per cent. of lead. Half crystal — lead content about half this amount.
Cullet Broken glass scrap used in the mixed batch.
Doghouse Opening into tank furnace through which charging is done.
Fire Polishing Removal of defects by surface melting.
Gathering Collecting of molten glass on blowing iron.
Glasshouse Workroom in which glass making operations are carried out.
Glory Hole Subsidiary furnace for reheating parts of worked glass.
Hand-Blown Glass blown into shape without use of mould.
Hand-pressed Glassware made in a hand-operated press.
Intaglio Light cutting by means of small abrasive wheels.
Lehr Annealing furnace.
Marver Metal plate on which gathered glass is rolled into shape.
Mechanical Boy Mechanism by which blower can open and close the mould.
Mitre Cut Glass cut with V-edged abrasive wheel.
Moil Waste glass on blown shape.
Offhand Entirely hand fabricated.
Overturns Piecework rate in excess of normal.
Paste Mould Mould coated with carbonaceous paste.
Pontil; Post Iron rod to which ware is attached in offhand mani­pulation.
Pot Receptacle, either open or closed, in which glass is melted.
Pot Arch Subsidiary furnace for pre-heating pot before trans­ference to melting furnace.
Pot Setting Transference of pots from pot arch to melting furnace.
Pulled Stem Stem drawn from bowl, i.e., in one piece.
Soda-Lime Glass Glass in which the basic components are lime and soda.
Taker-in Operative who transfers ware to lehr.
Teaser Furnaceman.
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 7 1947





Glossary 7
Summary of Recommendations 8
Chapter 1 Scope of the enquiry 15
Chapter 2 History of the manufacture of hand-blown domestic glassware in the United Kingdom 17
Chapter 3 Present size and location of the industry; industrial structure of the Stourbridge area 18
Chapter 4 The size of the market for domestic and fancy glass­ware in the United Kingdom; the problem of imports; statistics 21
Chapter 5 Production 30
Chapter 6 Labour 45
Chapter 7 Management 55
Chapter 8 Finance and future development 58
Chapter 9 Marketing 60
Chapter 10 Design 66
Chapter 11 Technical research 73
Chapter 12 Trade organisations 79
Appendix A Report on the Survey of the Hand-blown Domestic Glassware Industry made by Mr. George McOnie, of Messrs. Pilkington Bros., Ltd., at the request of the Working Party 83
Appendix B Excerpts from the report of the delegation from the Working Party to Sweden 88
Appendix C Excerpts from the report of the delegation from the Working Party to the United States 105
Appendix D Evidence presented to the Working Party by the Council of Industrial Design 129
Appendix E Report on tests made by H.M. Factory Inspectorate on ventilation of glasshouses 137
Appendix F Apprenticeship agreement for glasscutters 140
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 8 1947

Summary of Recommendations

In Column 3: I = Hand-blown Domestic Glassware Industry; G = the whole Glass Industry; BOT = Board of Trade; MS = Ministry of Supply; ME = Ministry of Education; ML = Ministry of Labour.
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
4 1.That the industry should begin at once to plan for a production of domestic and fancy glassware up to three times the volume of its pre-war pro­duction. I, BOT
  2. That meanwhile discussions should take place with the Board of Trade on the question of the desirable levels of the export and import trade in such goods. I, BOT
  3. That imports of domestic and fancy glassware should not be freely allowed until the industry has had an adequate opportunity to change back from a war to a peace economy and is well on the way with its new production plans. BOT
  4. That the present import duties on domestic and fancy glassware should be maintained. BOT
  5. That steps should be taken to prevent dumping of such ware on the British market at prices below those at which it is offered for sale in the country of origin. BOT
  6. That imported goods of this kind should be marked in a permanent manner to indicate that they are of foreign origin. BOT


7. That the statistics provided in relation to domestic and fancy glassware should be improved:
  1. by distinguishing in the published figures of production, imports and exports, between hand-blown, hand-pressed and machine-made products ;
  2. by amplifying the monthly statistics supplied by each firm to the Board of Trade to include, besides the figures of the total values of pro­duction for home and for export, also the numbers of —
    1. plain tumblers;
    2. plain stemware, and
    3. other plain ware and the value of decorated ware.


8. That the industry should make full use of the statistics which will be available, and that there should be closer co-operation between it and the Board of Trade in acting on the conclusions to be drawn from them.


Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 9 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
5 9. That the industry should support the efforts being made at Loch Aline to provide a supply of high quality sand at a reasonable price. I
  10. That the need for the industry to be assured of adequate supplies of red lead should receive close consideration by the Government Departments concerned. BOT, MS
  11. That the Raw Materials Department of the Board of Trade should take steps to ensure that present and future supplies of potassium carbonate are maintained at a level sufficient to meet the industry’s requirements. BOT
  12. That the industry should continue and extend the investigations now being made into furnace design so as to determine the type of furnace which is efficient from the point of view of both glass melting and production of ware. I
  13. That a careful study should be undertaken by the industry of the composition and functioning of the glassmaking chair in order to secure a greater production efficiency in the glasshouse, due regard being had to the practice in other countries. I
  14. That consideration should be given to the adoption of the pressed stem method of making stemware and to the possibility of combining this with semi-automatic blowing of the bowls of the glasses. I
  15. That the range and production of the industry should be expanded by the introduction of hand pressing of lead crystal ware and the manipulation of the pressed ware into other articles. I
  16. That the possibilities of machines for making stemware and other tableware in half and full crystal should be thoroughly investigated with a view to their adoption by the industry. I
  17. That the machinery which will be required should wherever possible be designed, developed, and manufactured in the United Kingdom. I, MS, BOT
  18. That attention should be given in good time to the question of introducing the fire polishing process for machine-made ware into the factories. I
  19. That the investigations into the ventilation of glasshouses should be continued and the im­provements suggested be adopted by the industry. I, ML
  20. That efforts should be continued to develop a machine for burning-off without producing a thickened edge. I
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 10 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
  21. That greater use should be made of the enamelling process of decoration. I
  22. That mechanisation of the acid-polishing process should receive further attention. I
  23. That consideration should be given to the adoption of modern facilities for the transportation and storage of blanks and other ware in the fac­tories. I
  24. That the advantages and limitations of carton packing should be thoroughly investigated by the industry. I
  25. That the industry should adopt a uniform costing system. I
  26. That further efforts should be made by the managements to secure the co-operation of the workers in obtaining the maximum output of goods from the production facilities available. I
6 27. That active steps be taken to encourage recruitment of juveniles from the Stourbridge area; measures which should be employed include:—
  1. Exhibitions of products of the industry in shops in the town and in schools. (An exhibi­tion has already been held in local shops and is to be repeated periodically, with appro­priate steps to ensure adequate publicity to attract the attention of parents and youths.)
  2. Exhibitions of films and photographs in schools, showing the processes and methods of working in the industry, and illustrating typical products.
  3. The issue to schools, etc., of a propaganda booklet drawn up by the industry as a whole. (A booklet has been completed as a result of the suggestion being made by the Working Party to the industry, and many copies have been issued).

  28. That boys entering the industry be encouraged to attend at the Stourbridge School of Art after working hours to obtain training in making and decorating; that manufacturers should pay the fees and should also pay the boys at the usual rates for time spent on this training. (In large measure this has already been done.) We further recom­mend that consideration be given urgently to expansion of training facilities in glassmaking and decorating, outside the works themselves. I, ME, Worcs. CC
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 11 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
  29. That the apprenticeship schemes such as are now being arranged by the Stourbridge firms should be adopted by the whole industry, and that appren­ticeship should be offered to each boy as soon as he shows promise of developing an appropriate degree of skill. I, ML
  30. That welfare facilities and working conditions should be progressively improved, especially
  1. by providing clean, light, warm changing rooms, if necessary with supervision, where boys and men can change into working clothes on going into the works, and out of them on leaving;
  2. by pro­viding washing facilities, lavatory accommodation, and other sanitary arrangements, well above the minimum requirements of the Factory Inspector­ate;
  3. by making employees understand that it is their responsibility to see that these facilities are not abused, and
  4. by improving and extending canteen and sports facilities.
  31. That, wherever practicable, mechanical aids should be introduced to avoid unnecessary drud­gery, the use of boys as takers-in being, if possible, dispensed with by the provision of mechanical con­veyors, in order that new entrants may be put to work of a more interesting character at as early a stage as possible. I
  32. That consideration should be given to the training of adults, particularly ex-Servicemen, as glassmakers and decorators to supplement normal recruitment. I, ML
  33. That consideration should be given to the recruitment of glassmakers from the Continent, under closely controlled conditions, as outlined more fully in the body of Chapter 6. I, BOT, ML
  34. That the industry should make the maximum possible use of the Scheme for Training Within Industry of Supervisors so as to improve the standard of skill and efficiency of the workers. I, ML
7 35. That the industry should endeavour to draw its recruits for managerial positions from a wider field than at present by :—
  1. Encouraging and assisting promising boys from the production side to obtain a higher education (including a training in glass tech­nology), and
  2. Making greater use in the factories of glass technologists who have graduated from the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield, particularly those who have taken higher degrees, and promoting to managerial posts those who have the necessary qualities and are suitably trained in management.
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 12 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
  36. That the industry should continue to give financial support to the educational side of the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield. I
  37. That the industry should refer to the Urwick Report on Education for Management and make contact with the Central Institute for Management, recently established, and be guided by its experi­ence. I
  38. That the industry should continue actively to support the Society of Glass Technology, encouraging membership from amongst its direc­tors, managers and employees on the widest possible scale. I
8 39. That, whilst maintaining their existing character on which their valuable goodwill has been built up, the firms in the industry should also consider setting up a co-operative modern glassworks employing mechanical production methods, the output of which could be mar­keted through the existing firms, with or without further processing in their decorating shops, to cater for the medium price domestic market and the hotel, railway and shipping company trade. I
9 40. That in the home market the industry should endeavour to develop more intimate contact with distributors, that it should arrange sales displays in co-operation with kindred industries, and seek a wider distribution of trade. I
  41. That wholesalers and the large retailers should be persuaded to carry larger stocks, as in this way manufacturers will be enabled to arrange longer production runs, with consequent economies. I
  42. That, to prevent overlapping and needless expenditure, frank and full discussion should take place between this and other relevant sections of the glass industry of plans for the production of domestic and fancy glassware by mechanical means. G
  43. That the industry should interest itself in market and consumer research. I
  44. That co-operative advertising designed to educate the public to appreciate glass quality should be considered. I
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 13 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
  45. That, to prevent excessive profits being taken by some distributors, a catalogue giving retail prices should be issued by each firm. I
  46. That a registered hall-mark should be adopted to be applied indelibly to each piece of glassware which is made of British glass of an agreed standard of quality. I, BOT
  47. That the present crippling Purchase Tax on decorated glass should be abolished, or at least substantially reduced. I, Treasuiy
  48. That greater attention should be given to the selection and training of salesmen and sales mana­gers, and that they should have refresher courses from time to time. I
  49. That the industry should continue to develop and extend its export trade, particularly to the “hard currency” areas, though it must be recog­nised that this will jeopardise its position in the home market unless adequate safeguards are pro­vided. I, BOT
10 50. That the industry should make every effort continually to improve the standard of its design. I
  51. That in those schools of art training designers who propose to find employment in the industry, decoration by cutting should receive greater atten­tion. ME, Worcs.CC
  52. That all possible encouragement and assist­ance should be given to the scheme for setting up in Edinburgh a department for advanced training and research in design for the glass industry. G, ME, Scottish Dept. of Educ. BOT
  53. That to interest free-lance designers in glass design, competitions should be arranged for prizes provided by the manufacturers, who should have the option of purchasing designs. I
  54. That the glass industry as a whole should set up a Design Centre covering its entire produc­tion, its establishment being, however, dependent on adequate support from the greater part or all of the industry. G, Council of Indus. Design.
11 55. That consideration should be given by the glass industry to the expansion of technical research for the whole industry by the setting up of a glass research association having the support of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. G, DSIR
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 14 1947
Chapter Recommendation To be put into effect by
  56. That the University of Sheffield should be asked to consider the possibility of permitting this research association to be established initially in the existing buildings of the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield, and to consider also the possibility of leasing some of the land belonging to the University behind and adjacent to the present building, for the erection of new laboratories, etc., as the work of the association develops. G, DSIR, Univ. of Sheffield
  57. That the research association should be provided with a staff separate from that of the Depart­ment of Glass Technology, although for a time the position of Director of Research of the association might usefully be held by the Head of the Depart­ment. G, DSIR
  58. That the contribution from the glass industry to the research association should be sufficient to provide it initially with an annual income, including the contribution from the DSIR, of at least £25,000. G, DSIR
  59. That the annual income of the research association should be increased as quickly as possi­ble and within a period of, at most, five years to about £50,000, in order to enable a Machinery Research and Development Section to be created. G, DSIR
  60. That the hand-blown section of the industry should make every effort to develop and extend technical research work in its own factories. I
12 61. That a fully representative trade association should be set up at an early date to supersede the existing one, followed by reconstitution of the Joint Consultative Council, so as to make it cover the whole of the hand-blown domestic glassware industry. I
  62. That those of our recommendations which are for the industry itself to carry out should be the concern of the new trade association acting, where working conditions, welfare and other matters usually dealt with by joint industrial councils are involved, in consultation with the Joint Consul­tative Council for the industry. I
  63. That an examination should take place of existing trade organisation in the whole glass industry for the purpose of achieving an improved structure. G