pyrex trademark Brierley trademark Butterworth trademark Chance trademark

British Glass After the War

by Angela M. Bowey

British Glass just after the second world war was produced in vast quantities and exported around the world, but very little has been written about the companies that made it. This article is intended to fill that gap. It lists all the British glass manufacturers in the years 1947 and 1948 with their trade marks, trading names, the kinds of products they made, and in some cases their original advertisements from those post-war years.

Richardson trademark Powell trademark Barr and Stroud trademark Chance trademark

How are you doing with recognising these trademarks? Congratuations if you know them all so far.

This period in Britain, 1945-1955, was dominated by the concepts of utility, austerity, economy, and efficiency that had arisen during the war years (1939-45). "Rationing", that is, the system of limiting how much each family was allowed to buy and regulating this through the use of coupons, continued until 1952. Glass manufacturers were encouraged to export their glass, but not allowed freedom to sell what they wished in Britain. There was a great deal of Government regulation of design and production through bodies like the Board of Trade and the Council for Industrial Design. In a whole page advertisement in the Pottery Gazette and Glass Trades Review, George Davidson's wrote:

"Owing to continued restrictions and production difficulties - coupled with the fact that Export orders must have priority, only a very limited range of patterns can be offered to the Home Trade and, furthermore, deliveries will of necessity be slow; consequently, owing to our inability to meet the requirements of our existing Home Trade customers, we are quite unable to consider opening any new accounts. Nevertheless, we wish to assure our frinds, both at Home and Overseas, that it will be our aim and endeavour to meet - as far as possible - the heavy demands for both our new and old successful patterns."

In 1951 the "Festival of Britain" was put on in London as the showcase for British achievement, and a display of British glass was included in the "Britain Can Make It" Exhibition that formed part of the Festival. However, the popular retort of "Britain can't have it" underlined the situation.

Here are some more trademarks from British glass just after the war. Do you recognise them?.

Beatson Clark trademark Quickfit trademark Knottingley trademark Sowerby trademark

You should recognise the last one, from Sowerby's; and beside it, Knottingley Crystaltynt was a Bagley's trade name. Admittedly some of the others are hard, and you will find them all explained below.

The period 1945-55 was the last decade for many of Britains major pressed glass producers, especially those from the North East of England. Sowerby's went into receivership in 1956 and were sold to an industrial safety glass producer (Suntex) who later abandoned pressed glass production (in 1972). Matthew Turnbull's Cornhill Glass Works (in Sunderland) closed down in 1953. The Wear Flint Glass Works, operated by Joblings at this time, had to sell a 40% shareholding to the American glass company Corning in 1954, and they ceased making fancy pressed glass in 1970. George Davidson's survived through until 1966 but were then taken over by an electro-plating company and eventually abandoned glass-making (in 1987). John Walsh Walsh closed in 1951. John Moncrieff's glass works in Scotland gave up art glass production in 1961. All these great companies, who had dominated the world in earlier decades, had survived two world wars and the difficulties of the Great Depression in the 1930's, but could not survive the restrictions and regulation imposed by the post war years and the competition from Europe.

It is a sad story, but the British glass scene has a different face today. Several major Stourbridge area glass works still survive, mostly making high quality cut crystal glass and there is now a strong studio glass movement which grew during the 1970's and 1980's.

The focus of this article is the post war period, and at that time almost all the major British Glass Works from the previous half century were still operating. Below is an alphabetical list of trademarks and trade names from the years 1947-48. The marks and names are arranged according to the words and letters in the trademark or trade name, and where the trade mark consists of initials, the first or the most dominant letter has been used. The list starts with a few graphic trademarks that have no letters.

Beatson Clark trademark
Beatson, Clark & Co. Ltd,
Rotherham Glass Works,
Rotherham, Yorkshire.

They made bottles.
Butterworth trademark
"Bulldog" glass - Butterworth Brothers Ltd,
Newton Heath Glass Works,
Hand-made and pressed table ware,
also scientific glassware, glass tubing, and optical glass.
Chance trademark
Chance Brothers Limited,
Glassworks, Smethwick, W. Bromwich; also Firhill, Glasgow.
They made antique and cathedral glass for glassworkers, also "Bollotini" glass beads, coloured sheet glass, glass for marine, industrial and lighting uses, "Hysil" laboratory and scientific glass, microscope slides, pressed glass, optical and ophthalmic glass, window glass, tiles and tubing.
Sowerby trademark

Sowerby's Ellison Glass Works Limited,
East Street, Gateshead, County Durham.
One of the great glassworks of the North East of England.
In the 1940's they advertised that they made pressed glass tableware and lighting glassware.
Quickfit trademark

- Quickfit and Quarz Ltd., Albemarle Street, London. Scientific glassware.

If you have enjoyed this article, you will probably enjoy the following books:

Bagley glass book Davidson Glass (2005) Pirelli Glass Book 2016 British glass book British Glass Book 2 British Glass Between the Wars 1987 Whitefriars glass book Whitefriars glass book

If you are looking for British glass there is always some for sale on eBay. Click British glass to take a look.

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