Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 04

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Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 45 1947

6. Labour

The main obstacle to the expansion of production in the hand-blown domestic glassware industry is the shortage of labour. Male labour is the main require­ment, women being employed to a lesser extent in the industry and scarcely at all in the glasshouse. The numbers of workers in the industry has fallen very considerably since before the war. Separate Ministry of Labour returns showing the number of workers and the amount of unemployment in this section of the glass industry are not available, but the table below shows the labour force in the principal centre, Stourbridge and Brierley Hill districts, from 1923 onwards.


Year Aged 14 and 15 years * Aged 16 and 17 years Aged 18 years and over † Totals
Boys Girls Boys Girls Men Women Males Females Total
1923 No returns available 140 120 1,270 440 1,410 560 1,970
1924 160 120 1,290 510 1,450 630 2,080
1925 120 130 1,330 560 1,450 690 2,140
1926 100 120 1,320 590 1,420 710 2,130
1927 140 150 1,330 610 1,470 760 2,230
Aged 18-20 Aged 21-64 Aged 18-20 Aged 21-64
1928 150 160 170 1,170 190 480 1,490 830 2,320
1929 150 180 170 1,190 210 490 1,510 880 2,390
1930 130 200 180 1,180 200 550 1,490 950 2,440
1931 130 150 180 1,160 210 570 1,470 930 2,400
1932 110 110 170 1,150 220 570 1,430 900 2,330
1933 110 100 160 1,160 180 570 1,430 850 2,280
1934 90 120 140 1,150 170 580 1,380 870 2,250
1935 60 180 100 130 120 1,150 140 580 1,430 1,030 2,460
1936 70 200 80 160 100 1,080 150 560 1,330 1,070 2,400
1937 50 130 80 170 80 1,100 130 500 1,310 930 2,240
1938 30 150 90 180 90 970 170 510 1,180 1,010 2,190
1939 30 130 70 140 80 950 180 480 1,130 930 2,060
Aged 21-59
1940 50 90 40 120 70 830 180 450 990 840 1,830
1941 80 90 60 90 50 680 130 430 870 740 1,610
1942 50 60 60 70 40 630 80 400 780 610 1,390
1943 30 30 60 40 30 460 30 180 580 280 860
1944 40 30 60 30 30 460 40 180 590 280 870
1945 60 40 50 40 30 520 50 190 660 320 980
1946 60 50 40 50 30 700 50 250 830 400 1,230

* Boys and girls aged 14 and 15 years became insurable against unemployment in September, 1934.

† Prior to January, 1928, all persons over 16 years of age were insurable against unemployment, and the figures for 1923 to 1927 inclusive relate therefore to men and women aged 18 years and over, including those aged 65 and over, while those for the years 1928 to 1939 inclusive relate to men and women aged 18 years and under 65 years.

Women aged 60 years and under 65 years ceased to be insurable against unemployment in July, 1940, and the figures for 1940 and later years relate therefore to men aged 18 years and under 65 years, and to women aged 18 years and under 60 years.

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The following table shows the total numbers now employed by the eight firms in the industry, as compared with 1935.

Date Operatives Administration, Technical and Clerical Staff Total
12.10.35 2,540 187 2,727
28.12.46 1,732 141 1,873

The following table shows the number of glassmakers and decorators res­pectively employed in the industry in 1938 compared with the number employed now and which the industry could employ with present plant and equipment.

Glassmakers Decorators
1938 1947 Could be employed (on present shifts) 1938 1947 Could be employed
707 617 812 947 507 1,071

The glassmakers are not far below their pre-war numbers, but if three shifts per day working were introduced, almost double the present number could be employed. The decorators are at about half strength according to the table, but some increase has occurred since January, 1947.


Consideration has been given to the possibility of securing the much needed additional labour in the following ways :—

  1. By the return of former workers from the Services, or from munitions or other employment.
  2. By the recruitment of trained workers from other sections of the glass industry.
  3. By increased recruitment of juveniles.
  4. By increased recruitment of new entrants, e.g., ex-Servicemen.
  5. By increasing the number of foreign workers employed.

1. Return of Former Workers. There seems little prospect of any substantial further addition to the labour force of the industry by the return of former workers. The main drift back of those who were withdrawn during the war has now almost ceased; in fact, the rate of return at the present time is not compensating for the loss of workers through call-up for the Forces and in other ways.

2. Recruitment of Trained Workers from other Sections of the Glass Industry. There is some exchange of labour between the various sections of the glass industry employing hand-blowers, such as the domestic, illuminating and

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electrical glassware sections, but it has never been considerable; the vast majority of glassmakers much prefer to stay in the factory or at least in the district in which they were trained. The demand for blowers is high, and as the work on the whole is less exacting as regards quality in the other sections of the industry, and in some instances is more highly paid, the workers in these sections would not in general be attracted into the lead crystal section even if they had the skill required for making high quality tableware. Little assistance can, we think, be anticipated from this direction.

3. Increased Recruitment of Juveniles. Employers and workers alike insist that, for both making and decorating, recruits should preferably be juveniles, though there have been instances where adults have successfully been trained as glassmakers. There seems no doubt, however, that the ideal recruits are young boys who have just left school. The lack of such recruits is holding up production by preventing expansion and, in addition, is adding to cost through skilled men having to do boys’ work.

The difficulty in obtaining juvenile male labour has existed for some considerable time past. The chief reasons for it are :—

  1. The severe unemployment in the industry during part of the period between the two wars has made parents hesitant about sending their boys into the industry. In addition, an impression still persists that the industry is in some ways an unhealthy one. This is entirely untrue. The statistics of the National Flint Glassmakers (Friendly) Society show that the average age at death is over 70 years.
  2. The hours and conditions of work in the glasshouse have compared unfavourably with those in many other industries. In a number of the factories work starts at 6 a.m. and, in all but two, two shifts daily are worked, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Boys prefer to enter industries where they do not start work before 7.30 — 8 a.m. and are free at 5 — 6 p.m. The heat, smoke and fumes from the furnaces have in the past made working conditions appear unattractive, and this impression has been strengthened by the generally untidy appearance of some of the glasshouses. The lighting appears poor by ordinary office or workshop standards. It has been considerably improved during recent years, though it is generally accepted that very bright conditions are a disadvantage to the workers when manipulating the hot glass. Lavatory, canteen and other welfare facilities have been inferior to those provided in some other industries, and often have not been fully or properly used. There seems to be no doubt that these things have tended to discourage many parents from putting their boys into the industry, and also have discouraged the boys themselves from wishing to enter.
  3. Under the provisions of the Factory Act and Regulations, boys cannot be employed in the glasshouse on the present shift working until they are sixteen years of age. Any who leave school at fourteen or fifteen must normally take up other work for a period, and in this way they may be lost to the industry.
  4. Boys are first employed in the glasshouse as takers-in, and do not for some time start on one of the making stages in the chair. Unless they can see the possibilities of early advancement they may find their initial job boring and uninteresting, and may prefer to take up other work, though it is understood that few wish to leave once they have settled in the industry.
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  1. There has in the past been no uniform scheme of apprenticeship, although most firms have had a scheme of some kind. A uniform scheme for the glass-cutters has now been adopted and a similar scheme for the glasshouse workers is in preparation. These provisions should add greatly to the attractiveness of the industry by ensuring stable employment and progressive training to all suitable entrants. The apprenticeship agreement for the glass-cutters is set out in Appendix F.

There is a heavy labour demand in the localities where the industry is situated. It is the experience in the industry that juveniles will not normally travel far to work, so that recruitment has to be local. About 1,000 boys leave school annually in the Stourbridge area, 300 to 400 in Stourbridge itself. The industry in and near Stourbridge appears to require at least 100 boys a year during the next three to five years in order that youths already partly trained may be promoted. Unless hostels can be established (a hostel scheme has been under consideration) dependence will have to be placed on local recruitment. Re­cruitment from an outside area was tried in the past and was unsuccessful. Boys were secured from South Wales and placed with local families, but none stayed.

We have considered various ways of attracting boys to the industry. In the first place, it is desirable to arouse the interest of the youths in the glass-making areas, in the type and quality of the work turned out by the factories in their own localities. We suggest that the ware should be exhibited in local shops, museums and schools, with full publicity, and that leaflets describing the advantages of employment in the industry should be distributed to the schools in the neighbourhood, and should also be available where the exhibits are being displayed. Exhibitions of films and photographs illustrating the processes and products could also be held with advantage, particularly if associated with the exhibits of the types of ware produced.

The establishment of a trade-training “nursery school” by the industry as a whole was discussed. The idea that a disused glassworks or other factory might be purchased and converted for this purpose was put forward. The difficulties would be considerable, however, and for the present at any rate this proposal is regarded as impracticable. Schemes whereby training is given to boys and juniors within the works are already in operation. In the normal shift periods, the trainees carry on with their ordinary work and at special times outside the shift hours are trained by experienced workmen, being paid by their employers at the usual rates for the training periods. Additional training is being given also at the Stourbridge School of Art, again with pay.

4. Increased Recruitment of Adult Workers, e.g., ex-Servicemen. The possi­bility of recruiting adults for training as makers and decorators is not being ignored. A leading firm, engaged in producing other types of glassware, is successfully operating a school in its works for training ex-Servicemen in glassmaking. After careful time and motion study of the glassmaking

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operations by experts and with the aid of one of its most proficient glass blowers who has been trained under the Training Within Industry Scheme, it has been found possible to advance a proportion of the adult workers very rapidly.

Although the proportion of highly skilled craftsmen who are produced by a scheme of this kind may be lower than when a start is made with juvenile recruits, a proportion of men of high skill is obtained and the others can be employed on work not requiring the highest skill. In view of the success which has already been obtained in a number of instances, we strongly recommend that employers should lose no opportunity of recruiting and training adult workers, particularly ex-Servicemen.

5. Introduction of Foreign Labour. We have given close consideration to the question of strengthening the labour force of the industry by the importation of glassworkers from abroad. Whilst our English craftsmen are second to none in skill we have always had something to learn from the Continent in regard to speed in the manipulation of glass and the developments of new manipulation techniques. The foreign glass blower is not unknown in the English glasshouse, although less frequently met in Stourbridge than in other parts. From time to time permission has been obtained for skilled workers to come here, principally from Czechoslovakia, to demonstrate and teach Continental methods; this has been particularly so in the lighting glassware industry. During the two world wars and the period between, some refugee glassmakers from the Continent have settled down in our factories and have in the main proved valuable recruits.

An opportunity now occurs to obtain highly skilled, energetic and efficient glassmakers from Central Europe. Large numbers have been expelled from the Sudetenland and would, no doubt, welcome the chance to establish themselves here, where they should prove most valuable. Many of them will be steady workers capable of high outputs of good quality ware, and it would be preferable to have them producing the goods we need here rather than to find ourselves importing goods which they have made abroad. They could be employed at once, either to enable additional shifts to be worked or to enable furnaces now idle to be relit. The glass can be provided for them. There are, however, a number of difficulties which have to be considered :—

  1. Our workers dislike the introduction of skilled labour from abroad since they consider it would prevent promotion of our partly trained younger men, would tend to discourage juvenile recruitment, and might lead to difficulties if the industry were again to suffer unemployment.
  2. It has been thought that our workers would particularly resent the introduction on equal terms with themselves of Sudeten Germans, who are ex-enemy in origin.

It seems to us that these objections can be overcome without undue difficulty. The danger to promotion of the younger skilled men in our factories can be avoided by employing the foreigners in such a way as to lead, after a short period, to the creation of new chairs.

The experiment of introducing German prisoner-of-war recruits into the Stourbridge glasshouses has been quite successful. Our workers have found them willing and energetic helpers and have got on very well with them. This experiment has accustomed the workers to the idea of working alongside foreigners, and the introduction of further recruits from the Continent should,

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if properly handled, meet with little opposition. It has, however, to be emphasised that before any workers are secured from the Continent, the position must be clearly and fully explained to our workers and their consent obtained. The number and type of workers imported and their allocation between the factories would have to be agreed between the manufacturers, Trade Unions and Government Departments concerned.

The importance of building up an adequate labour force cannot be over­estimated, including, if necessary, the introduction of a small proportion of foreign labour under well-regulated conditions.


With arrangements now made or in progress of development for uniform apprenticeship schemes in all firms, there should be a good incentive to boys to enter the industry. As soon as a boy shows promise of developing an appro­priate degree of skill, training within the factory and at educational centres such as the Stourbridge School of Art is provided for in the new schemes. We are sure that this will add to the attractiveness of the industry by ensuring stable employment and progressive training.


There is a strong body of opinion in the industry which holds that basic training of young entrants, whether in glassmaking or decoration, is best done in the works. Until comparatively recently no other form of full-time training has been available. In Stourbridge an alternative now exists in the Stourbridge School of Art, which has workshops fitted out for teaching glassmaking and decorating.

The School of Art has not greatly assisted in the recruiting of boy labour for the industry; out of 25 boys attending the day course last year, taking glass blowing and decorating as part of a general art course, only three were considering entering the industry. Teaching facilities are available for six boys to be trained at a time in making, and ten in decorating.

A number of the local works now arrange for their boys to attend the school outside their working hours, and to be paid at their usual rates for the time they attend. The boys have taken to the scheme enthusiastically, but there is a feeling amongst some of the manufacturers that the school has at present insufficient staff and equipment, at least on the glassmaking side, to operate a scheme on a scale commensurate with the needs of the industry. Only two boys at a time can practise blowing under the eye of the instructor, and as the class may contain six or more boys, at least one additional instructor is needed, with an additional two-pot furnace. The provision for training decorators would appear to be ample for present needs. It has been suggested that the facilities which the school affords at present for training in glassmaking could also be utilised in imparting advanced training to adult glassmakers from the Stourbridge works.

It is clear from our investigation that a considerable extension of staff and equipment is required if the school is to be used as a training school for boys in or proposing to enter the industry.

As a long-term policy, the establishment of a trade school for the industry

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would appear to be the ultimate solution, but as an interim measure the staff and equipment of the School of Art could and should be increased now, to enable the training schemes at present operating to function on an adequate scale. As the school is organised as a School of Art, the present conditions qualifying for entry for the Day Course would need to be altered so as to provide for the admission of boys in, or definitely intending to enter, the industry. If the scheme for training boys from the industry is to be put into operation at an early date, it will be necessary for these boys to be given first claim on the training facilities afforded by the school.


1. The Glasshouse. At one time the conditions in the glasshouse were un­pleasant and distinctly unattractive. The men worked in a fog of smoke in hot, dark, ill-ventilated furnace shops. The shifts adopted, six hours on and six hours off, for a 48-hour week gave little time during the working week for rest or recreation. It is not surprising that the industry had a bad name and that parents were reluctant to allow their sons to enter it. Between the two great wars much was done to improve conditions. New glasshouses were built and old ones were modernised. Better ventilation was provided. Advances in the design of furnaces, lehrs and glory holes reduced heat and eliminated smoke, and the average glasshouse now compares favourably with any in Continental Europe.

From the report of our mission to U.S.A., it would seem, however, that even better conditions are provided in many of the factories there, The shops are higher and more airy, the ventilation is of advanced type, and effective use is made of air-cooling both for the workers and the ware by provision of ducts by which the air is led to where it is required by pipes and deflectors. We are of the opinion that careful attention should be paid to U.S. design when new or improved shops are being planned here. From the evidence submitted to us it would appear that in the glasshouse of the future the circular type of furnace is likely to be replaced by the small unit furnace, which has already been described in Chapter 5 above dealing with production. Apart from the promise of im­proved production efficiency, adoption of this type of furnace should result in amelioration of working conditions. Glasshouse temperatures should be reduced and satisfactory ventilation should be more easily obtained. The glasshouse should be easier to keep clean.

2. Cutting and Other Decorating Shops. In most of the larger works efforts have been and are being made to bring the decorating shops into line with modern ideas of what a workshop should be.

Artificial lighting of cutting shops is a point which we consider should receive closer study, with the co-operation of the manufacturers of lighting equipment and the Lighting Service Bureau. The use of overhead fluorescent lighting in place of ordinary electric lamp bulbs situated at about eye level gives a cleaner and brighter appearance to the shops, but many of the cutters find it useful to have the older type of lamps in addition. Various experiments with different lighting arrangements are being made with a view to finding the system most acceptable to the operatives.

Engraving is not done in all the factories, and the number of engravers is small compared with the number of cutters, 21 compared with 486 on

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1st January, 1947. The engraving shops are, in general, tidier than the cutting shops, by virtue of the different type of work done. Much could, however, be done to make them look brighter and more attractive.

3. Heating of Factories. In general, the factories are adequately heated, usually by steam, and in one instance the heating is provided by steam from “waste heat” boilers.

4. Canteens. Canteens have been introduced in the larger works, but it is found that, since most of the workers live near at hand or prefer to bring their lunch, not much use is made of them for main meals. Despite the lack of enthusiasm with which they seem to be regarded by the workers, we strongly urge all the larger works to persist with their catering arrangements and to try to make their canteens as bright and cheerful and as attractive as possible. There seems always to be at least a substantial minority of workers who will look for and appreciate a well-run canteen, and who may be tempted to transfer to other industries if one is not provided. The canteen can, moreover, form a natural centre for many social activities, such as dances and whist drives, which help to create a happy atmosphere in a works.

5. Sports and Games Facilities. Although none of the works are large, we are pleased to note that several have their own sports grounds and run their own cricket, football and bowling clubs; this development has extended to all the larger works.


There are two Trade Unions, one for the glassmakers, the National Flint Glassmakers (Friendly) Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the other for decorators, the National Union of Glass Cutters and Decorators. Both have their Headquarters in Stourbridge.

The decorators are strongly unionised, but a considerable proportion of the glassmakers is outside the Union. The following table shows how the membership of the two Unions has varied :—

(males only)

1900 800 1,323
1905 730 990
1910 670 660
1915 657 713
1920 800 1,125 *
1925 760 527
1930 850 600
1935 750 434
1940 659 402
1945 530 373
1947 560 386

* Includes glassmakers from a works making technical glassware, who later withdrew from the Union.

The National Flint Glassmakers (Friendly) Society covers glassmakers employed in the lead crystal glassware factories and in a certain number of factories making illuminating glassware. There is a very large number of glassmakers employed in factories making non-domestic glassware by hand-blowing who would be welcomed by the Union as members.

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Efforts have been made in the past, and are being renewed, to bring the glassmakers and decorators together in one Union. This would seem to be advantageous from both the workers’ and the employers’ point of view. The employers would have to deal with one Union only and would be able to negotiate agreements with it covering all their workers. The substitution of one larger and stronger Union for the present two Unions should provide more effective representation of the workers.


Over a long period of years, industrial relations have been excellent and strikes have been unknown. The position has become still better since the Joint Consultative Council was set up in 1941. It consists of representatives from the Stourbridge Glass Manufacturers’ Association and from each of the two Trade Unions. It deals with questions relating to labour, wages and working conditions only, although on occasions it makes representations on such questions as imports of foreign glassware which, although strictly outside its sphere, affect employment in the industry. The Council draws up the working rules for the decorating and glass working sides of the industry. These deal with the payment of wages, disrupted chairs, bad glass, furnaces out of commission, minimum and maximum wages, employment of non-Union workers, registration of unemployed, notice of termination of service, and employment of women. Much useful work has so far been done by the Council, but if full representation of both employers and workers in the industry could be secured, its work would be more fully effective. Decisions made by the Council and the agreements drawn up between the employers and employees are binding only on the members of the Stourbridge Glass Manufacturers’ Association and Union members. The other firms and workers may follow them or not as they choose. The Council can only be really effective if it represents the whole industry, and the first step in this direction is, we consider, the formation of a fully comprehensive Manufacturers’ Association.


If the industry is to maintain and improve on the present standard of skill and efficiency of the production workers, glassmakers and decorators, every effort must be made to extend the training of the worker within the factory and to provide a higher standard of supervision. We have had explained to us by an officer of the Ministry of Labour and National Service the scheme for Training Within Industry of Supervisors, which has been introduced with such success. We are of the opinion that this scheme promises to give most useful results in this industry, and are pleased to be able to state that at our suggestion it has already been taken up by the firms in the Stourbridge area. We would urge them to persist with this scheme so that the industry may derive the maximum possible benefit from it.

  1. That active steps should be taken to encourage recruitment of juveniles from the Stourbridge area; measures which should be employed include :—
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    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 the 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 of this type has been completed as a result of the suggestion made by the Working Party to the industry, and many copies have been issued.)
  1. That boys entering the industry should be encouraged to attend at the 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 had already been done.) We further recommend that consideration be given urgently to expansion of training facilities in glassmaking and decorating outside the works themselves.
  2. 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.
  3. That welfare facilities and working conditions should be progressively improved, especially (a) 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, (b) by providing washing facilities, lavatory accommodation and other sanitary and welfare arrangements, well above the minimum require­ments of the Factory Inspectorate, (c) by making employees understand that it is their responsibility to see that these facilities are not abused, and (d) by improving and extending canteen and sports facilities.
  4. 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.
  5. That consideration should be given to the training of adults, particularly ex-Servicemen, as glassmakers and decorators to supplement normal recruitment.
  6. 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 this chapter.
  7. 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.
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7. Management

The family business, with all its attendant advantages and drawbacks, is predominant in the industry. Its very success in maintaining its high standards through the trying inter-war period is due in no small measure to the tenacity of the family managements in holding to old well-tried methods. To them we largely owe the lead in quality that British hand-blown table glassware still retains to-day.

Yet it must be admitted that this type of management was unable to redress the unsatisfactory situation which existed during the two decades before the war, when the greater part of our supplies of hand-blown domestic glassware came from abroad. The battle against cheap foreign imports was fought in an individualistic rather than in a co-operative way, from behind the ramparts of tradition. During much of this period no general effort was made to develop and introduce new methods of manufacture which, without displacing the old established products, would have enabled our factories to add to their range of production by making goods of a less exclusive quality and at a competitive price. With the protection given by the import duties, such products could have competed favourably with the imported goods and the home industry might thus have supplied a much larger proportion of our requirements.

The industry is now facing new conditions, and there is a general broadening of ideas resulting from wartime experience. Technological advances are already being made, and there is a readiness to seek and adopt new methods and introduce new ranges of production. It is, however, clear that if the industry is to be efficient and progressive, management will have to be strengthened.

It has hitherto been uncommon for anyone from the production side to rise to a managerial position. Intelligent lads entering the industry should have a prospect of rising to the top; in the United States this is taken for granted, and to it much of the success of American industry is due. No opportunity should be lost of picking out promising boys in the factories and helping them to avail themselves of the opportunities now provided for higher education, including the courses in glass technology at Sheffield University. The small expenditure which this would involve should be amply repaid by the energy, ability and knowledge which these recruits should eventually bring to the industry and also by the good effects on factory morale generally.

From outside the industry useful recruits to management may be obtained from students who have graduated in the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield. These would primarily be engaged as technologists, for whom there should be scope for employment in the larger firms. Hitherto the factories have made little if any use of fully trained glass technologists. Some at least of these recruits should be found to possess those qualities of leadership which, combined with their technical knowledge and experience, should fit them eventually for high executive and administrative posts in the industry.


We refer in more detail to the history, organisation and finances of the Department in Chapter 11. Here we are concerned with its activities as a Department of the University in providing education for students who

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propose to specialise in glass technology and to take up posts in the industry.

The work of the Department is arranged in the following general grades :—

  1. Graduates who have taken an Honours Degree in physics or chemistry, with chemistry or physics and mathematics as subsidiary subjects, are accepted for post-graduate work in glass. Such students, if possessing the right personality and outlook, should develop into men capable of taking high positions on the research and technical side of the glass industry, and may also attain executive positions of the highest order, including positions on Boards of Directors. Advancement from high technical posts to executive and administrative posts would depend largely on personality and general character, but the general background of training would be of great value.
  2. Students who have obtained the Higher School Certificate at a standard sufficient to exempt them from the Matriculation and Intermediate B.Sc. examinations are accepted for the Pass B.Sc. Tech. course. If after two years at the University they show sufficient promise in the B.Sc. Pass examination, they proceed to Honours B.Sc. Tech. in glass technology during their third year at the Department. Such men are reasonably well fitted either for research work or for work on the production side of the industry.
  3. Students may be accepted after having obtained the School Certificate at a standard sufficient to exempt them from Matriculation. They proceed to the Pass B.Sc. Tech. in glass technology during their three years at the University, and in general enter the production side of the industry as junior works chemists or to assist in the technical control of processes.
  4. Students who have not matriculated may be accepted for the Diploma in Glass Technology. Courses and examinations are identical with those for Pass B.Sc. Tech., and the prospects of such men in the industry are virtually identical with those of men taking the ordinary Pass B.Sc. Tech. degree.

We make certain suggestions in Chapter 11 about the future arrangements for technical research for the glass industry at present being performed by the Department of Glass Technology. These would involve a separation of this research from the educational activities of the Department. We trust that these suggestions, if implemented, will not lead to any diminution in the financial and other support which the glass industry has hitherto given to the educational side of the Department, since a continuous influx of trained scientific and technological personnel is, in our opinion, vital to progress within the industry.


It must be emphasised that training in technology does not of itself qualify a man, however brilliant, for management. A highly trained technician may lack the necessary initiative and capacity for leadership. He may remain quite ignorant of the principles of industrial administrative responsibility. Where he possesses such qualities, he will learn much by experience, but it should be added that during the last half century a new science of management has grown up to which attention must be paid. It is well for a manager to be a good technologist, but he cannot manage successfully unless he understands fore­casting, planning, organising, commanding, co-ordinating and controlling.

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The industry is therefore recommended to refer to the Urwick Report on Education for Management and make contact with the recently established Central Institute of Management and be guided by its experience.


The Society of Glass Technology is a scientific body with a membership of over 1,000 (open to all interested in glass and glass manufacture), whose purpose it is to hold scientific meetings and discussions concerning any problem relating to glass or glass manufacture. The Society, which is the leading one of its kind in the world, was formed during the first world war about a year after the formation of the Department of Glass Technology. With the Department, it has done much to bring home to the glass industry throughout the world the vital importance of applying scientific method and research to every problem concerning glass and glass manufacture. Relations between the Society and the Department are most cordial, and by permission of the Council of the University the Society has its headquarters in the buildings of the Department. The Society has also a flourishing sectional organisation, the Midlands Section, in which the Stourbridge area is included, being one of the most active. Attendance at the local meetings of this section is usually between 30 and 40 and the discussions are lively, interesting and valuable.

At the meetings of the Society and of the local sections there are informal discussions of a frankness and of a range which would have been impossible 15 or 20 years ago. This bringing together of the members of the industry in an informal and a friendly atmosphere is in fact one of the most important results of the Society’s activities. It has done much to break down the reserve which previously existed, and in its committees information and experiences are freely exchanged in a way which is as helpful as it is refreshingly new. We regard the Society as most worthy of support by the glass industry, and trust that it will continue to flourish.

  1. 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.
  2. That the industry should continue to give financial support to the educational side of the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield.
  3. That the industry should refer to the Urwick Report on Education for Management and make contact with the Central Institute of Management and be guided by its experience.
  4. 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.
Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 58 1947

8. Finance and Future Development

The hand-blown section of the glass industry in Britain is very small when measured financially. If the money value of turnover or of capital employed is used as the yardstick, the eight companies (of which two are “public” and six are “private”) are together no larger than any one of many companies in other industries. All the businesses are old established, and it is certain that in no firm does the balance sheet set a value on the chief asset, i.e., the world-wide high reputation of English Hand-Blown Crystal Glass, or what in financial parlance is known as “goodwill.”

It is, however, of the utmost importance that this hard won asset should be preserved and, indeed, fostered and developed for the benefit of the country as well as for all engaged in the industry.

It is probably true to say that in no other industry is the family business more predominant, for even the two public companies have this characteristic to a certain degree.

One of the problems facing the Working Party has, therefore, been to make suggestions which will facilitate the growth of the industry without impairing its valuable “goodwill.” Maintenance of the individual character and freedom of the industry, supported by suitable co-operation through the trade and labour associations, is the only way of securing that employer and employee will give of their best.

Financial aid is not the prime need of the several companies. Capital expenditure on fixed assets beyond their existing resources is not an economic proposition unless there can be found an adequate supply of the right type of labour; and the willingness of the right type of labour to come forward depends amongst other things (such as housing, adequate training facilities, etc., to which reference is made elsewhere in this report) on an assurance that the output from any further fixed assets will not be destroyed by an unhelpful tariff policy on the part of the Government. Employer and employee vividly remember what has already happened when the market was flooded with glassware of good quality produced in Central Europe under conditions which would not be tolerated here. The industry must, therefore, first be assured that it will be protected from this form of competition.

The industry is convinced that it can hold its own in home and overseas markets against fair competition, but cannot do so against subsidised exports or against the production of grossly underpaid labour. It looks to Central and Eastern Europe and apprehends the risk that the conditions ruling there to-day can produce precisely that competition which proved so serious in the past and brought Stourbridge to the condition of a distressed area.

Thus the first necessity is for the Government to engender a feeling of confidence that if proprietors engage in development of their factories, and if parents encourage their children to train for and to enter this industry, they will not be overwhelmed by a flood of cheap imported glass. Given confidence in the future, the industry is undoubtedly capable of substantial development. With a rising standard of living in this and other countries there can develop

Hand-blown Domestic Glassware 59 1947

a really large market for English cut-glass of the highest quality. Almost everywhere a beautiful piece of glass forms an acceptable present. Some markets will be a long time before they justify the the expense of setting up a sales organisation representing the individual company, but the. industry is willing in appropriate cases to exploit these markets co-operatively and should be encouraged to do so.

Much time and attention has been devoted to studying the possibility of manufacturing products partly made by mechanical processes, and the missions to the U.S.A. and Sweden gave much helpful information in this connection.

The comparatively small family businesses which make up this industry are individually capable of substantial development within themselves, and their managements are already planning improvements in production methods, including some degree of mechanisation of the actual processes of glass making. They can see their way to financing these developments, including the provision of the necessary working capital.

There is, however, a much larger field which it is believed can be exploited by the “Stourbridge” firms without endangering their exclusive workmanship (or goodwill) to which reference has been made above.

Subject to further research which it is suggested should be carried out by the companies working co-operatively, there is probably a market for the output from a fairly large modern glassworks employing mechanical production methods. Details of such a scheme must be carefully worked out, but in general principle it is believed that the output from such a factory could be marketed through the existing companies either under their own names and brands or otherwise, and either with or without further processing in the decorating shops of those companies. Some of these products should cater for the substantial trade available with hotels, railway and shipping companies, apart from the domestic demand for high-class glass at medium price.

It is only a rough guess that a factory of this kind would cost, with the necessary working capital, £250,000, but it is certain that none of the concerns in the industry would be disposed to engage by itself in capital expenditure of this magnitude. The Working Party was, however, led to believe that a well thought-out scheme to erect such a factory might appeal as a co-operative venture, and if necessary a large part of the capital required could be provided by either the Finance Corporation for Industry, Ltd., or the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation, Ltd., on terms which would leave the industry with the control of the company and at rates of interest and redemption which would allow for the fact that this development might take some time to get into its stride, but was, none the less, bringing to this country a new industry, having the effect both of replacing imports by home production and of opening up new export markets.

  1. We recommend 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 glass works, 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.