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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

THE GLASS INDUSTRY
IN KNOTTINGLEY

See also GLASSMAKERS OF KNOTTINGLEY by Ron Gosney

In comparison to most other industries in the area, the glass industry is a more recent development.

In 1848 the first glass house was in operation on the north bank of the river Aire in Ferrybridge on land adjacent to the Swan Inn coaching house. This was called the Yorkshire Glass Bottle Company.

The local origins of the modern industry date from 1869 when William Bagley came from Castleford to become manager at the Ferrybridge factory. It was an ideal time for the industry due to a combination of geographical and economic factors.

The construction of the Knottingley-Goole canal in 1826 and the introduction of the local railways after 1845 together with the existing road and river routes gave the town of Knottingley a comprehensive communications network. Placed within the Yorkshire coalfield and located centrally in the country it had easy access to raw materials and markets for its products and it is this that ensured the industrial development of the town.

BAGLEY'S GLASSWORKS

Bagley's was once one of the most successful glass manufacturers in the United Kingdom. It began life in 1871 as a glass bottle producer when William Bagley and his cousin John William Bagley, in partnership with John Wild,  formed 'Bagley, Wild & Company', in premises adjacent to Weeland Road in Knottingley. Due to financial difficulties it was later reformed in 1898 as a private company under the name of 'Bagley and Company'.

In 1912 the firm branched out into the production of crystal and pressed glass for domestic use as well as continuing their production of a range of glass bottles. Lead crystal was produced for only a short period of time but between the years 1920 and the late 1930's and again after the war, they were major manufacturers of pressed glass up until approximately 1975.

Aerial view of Bagley's Glassworks Knottingley

A postcard showing an aerial view of Bagley's Glassworks

In 1924 Bagley's were invited to exhibit at the Wembley exhibition where it was reported that Queen Mary purchased several items of glassware from a range later to be marketed as the 'Queens Choice'.

In 1866, Ferrybridge postmaster Mr. Joshua Arnall had patented his design for the first bottle making machine and by 1892 over 2000 bottles per day were being produced by this method at much less expense and with more uniform results than by the traditional hand-blown method.  William Bagley purchased the patent for this machine in 1899 for his own company and this resulted in other local glass bottle producers finding themselves unable to compete.

(right) Bagley's Glass advertisement circa 1950

Bagley's Glass Advertisement

Bagleys Glass Model Railway Wagon Bagleys Glass Model Railway Wagon
An '00' gauge model railway wagon produced by Bachmann Industries
depicting the Bagley & Company glassworks in Knottingley

The firm were honoured to receive a Royal Visit on 21st October 1937 when King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Princess Royal were given a tour of the companies works. To commemorate this Royal occasion, a special plate of pressed glass was produced and presented to the employees of the firm. A souvenir booklet was also issued to commemorate the event.

Within the space of 30 years from 1906 to the time of the Royal Visit, the workforce at Bagley's increased from less than 200 to over 800, an indication of the successful times the company was experiencing.

In the 1930's under the management of Stanley and Percy Bagley, the firm introduced a range of decorative glass bearing the trademark name of 'crystaltynt'. This range was to ensure the firms success as it became much sought after. Vases, bowls and many types of ornamental items were produced in typically period colours including  pastel blue, pastel green, amber and rose pink and in both frosted and transparent designs. They also produced jade glass and an opaque black range that was introduced as 'jettique'. After the war in the latter part of the 1940's they added 'crystopal' to their catalogue which was an opaque coloured glass.

Bagley's Glass was taken over by Jackson's Glass Company of Knottingley and this in turn was to later become part of the large Rockware Glass Company.

Bagley's glass bottle trademark

'crystaltynt' trademark

WILLIAM BAGLEY

William Bagley first entered the glass industry in 1850 when at the age of eight he began work at Pilkington Bros Ltd of St Helens. As a young man he moved to Castleford where he became active in union affairs and served as the Central secretary of the Glass Bottle Makers of Yorkshire United Trade Protection Society during the 1860's. In 1869 he became manager at the Yorkshire Glass Bottle Company in Ferrybridge until 1871 when, in partnership with his cousin John,  he formed Bagley, Wild and Company in Knottingley.

GREGG'S (HOPE) GLASSWORKS

In 1874 a partnership of Isaac Burdin, George Popplewell, G. W. Barton and T. Bilsborough purchased an area of land adjacent to the Knottingley-Goole canal and commenced production of flint bottles of various hues. In 1875 the financial strain of establishing the business led to Popplewell selling his interest to Isaac Burdin and by January 1876 the partnership had sold the concern to Andrew Mooney. Mooney came from Pontefract and continued to run the business for some 17 years. During this time he had to endure many financial difficulties and in 1880 in a desperate attempt to ensure company stability he wagered all his assets on the St. Ledger runner 'Robert The Devil'. Luckily for him the horse won and he was able to continue in business until 1893 when he sold the firm, then known as Hope Glassworks, to Samuel Addingley, a Pontefract liquorice producer. Seven years later the business was sold to the partnership of Peter Gilston, J. W. Chadwick and Jabez Gregg. Peter Gilston dissolved his Knottingley partnership in 1902 and with the death of Chadwick in 1903 the business was eventually established as Gregg and Company in 1905.

BURDIN BROS. GLASSWORKS

Isaac Burdins withdrawal from the Round House partnership in 1876 led to the establishment of Burdin Bros in 1887 on a site formed by the junction of Headland Lane and the Wakefield-Goole railway line. It produced mainly huge acid containers known as carboys and also small flint bottles.

JACKSON'S GLASSWORKS

Adjacent to the site of Burdin's glassworks, a five-man partnership established a glassworks in 1893. The partnership consisted of two brothers, John and Tom Jackson, along with Victor Wild, and brothers Tom and William Allen. Victor Wild was the son of John Wild who helped to form Bagley Wild and Company in 1871.

All these men had learned their trade at the Bagley works in Knottingley but Within a few short months the two Allen brothers had withdrawn from the business and Victor Wild would retire at the end of the first year. The Jackson brothers however, continued trading and eventually made a great success of the business.

(right) Jackson Bros. advertisement circa 1950
Jackson Glass Advertisement

Jackson Bros Letterhead
Jackson Bros. Glass Trademark Jackson's Bros Letterhead

 

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