In the 1860´s Caleb Kilner of Thornhill Lees, taking advantage of existing rail, road and water facilities founded the Providence Glass Works in New Conisboro. The firm begun originally by John Kilner in 1844, flourished until eventually over 400 people were employed there on the 11 acre site; producing beer and mineral water bottles with glass stoppers, as well as containers for pharmaceuticals, and later the “Kilner” fruit bottling jar. Women were employed as well as men in producing the glass marbles for the bottle stoppers, in packing and also washing departments.
The firm eventually built 76 houses for their workers, in streets known as George,
William, John, Thornhill Streets, and Lees Terrace, all names with company connections.
They had a large warehouse in Blundell Street, near Kings Cross, London, from whence they exported all over the world, particularly to India and South Africa. Many skilled workers were brought into the area from Thornhill when in 1873 the
Siemens gas furnace was completed and the gas produced locally could be utilised. More than 300,000 bottles were produced each week.
After Caleb Kilner´s death, the firm was managed by his son George. The firm finally closed in 1937 before the second world war, when demand had decreased and the manufacturing process did not move with the times.
Flameless Explosive Works
In 1889, following the granting of a government permit, the Flameless Explosives Company commenced operations at Denaby. They were to manufacture “Securite” which was claimed, had special properties which superceded gunpowder or other materials used for blasting operations in mines. Before beginning work employees had in the early days to “divest themselves of their ordinary attire and assume woollen garments specially made and supplied by the company”. The regulations in force were to be of “the most stringent character, although only the remotest danger is to be feared and a catastrophe can only be brought about by the most gross carelessness.” in spite of this many accidents did occur over the years, but none of any great magnitude.
Staff were well paid and later into the 1900´s were provided with many social facilities including a bowling green, two tennis courts and a recreation room with table tennis tables. Protective clothing was laundered there for the workers, there was a nurse who dealt with minor ailments, an excellent works canteen, and lunchtime concerts, by the “Workers Playtime” radio programme. The management ran a good pension scheme, and a savings bank and when workers reached the age of 21 they were then given shares in the company according to each year of service.
Jobs at the “Powder Works” were much sought after because there were few other opportunities for women and girls. Most had to leave the village to work in service as cooks or housemaids, and to work in the woollen mills of West Yorkshire or Mackintosh´s Toffee Works, right up to the early days of the Second World War
A pottery existed south of the railway where it crosses the road at Denaby Main.
It was originally built for the manufacture of fire bricks, but later produced some
“Fine quality domestic earthenware in white, sponged and printed.” it began in 1884 and was worked by Wilkinson & Wardle. The latter came from Alcock & Company, Burslem in Staffordshire. It was the most easterly South Yorkshire pottery and lay close to the Denaby Main Colliery, with sidings into the works from the South Yorkshire Railway (later the Great Central Railway). In spite of Wardle´s practical skills as a potter it was not a commercial success. Eventually Mr. W. Wilkinson stepped out and his place was taken by Mr. Blyth a mining engineer. It was closed down before 1870, and then became a bone and glue works. This too, folded and there is now nothing left to remind one of its origins, but a few stones.