Glass Trade Crisis – How It Affects The Don Valley

April 1910

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Thursday 28 April 1910

Glass Trade Crisis.

How It Affects The Don Valley

At Mexborough and Swinton the glass bottle trade crisis is more subject of conversation for outsiders than with the men themselves. They are as reticent as the heads of the Combine and non-Combino firms in the local area. Both sides in the dispute are acting the ‘”wait and see” policy.

There are only four glass bottle manufacturing firms in the Mexborough district. Two are in the Combine and two are not.

In the Combine are Messrs, Kilner Bros, of Conisborough, who employ about 450 hands. The other local Combine firm Messrs. Barron, Limited, where are employed about 200 hands in all.

The non-Combine firms are Messrs. P. J. Waddington and Son (the Don Glass Works, Mexborough and the South Yorkshire Bottle Manufacturing Company, Swinton. At the Don Glass Works about 200 hands arc employed, and at Swinton about 150, which means that in round numbers there are about 1.000 men and boys earning their living in the trade in the Don alley.

Old course, should the notices, which expire on Saturday not be withdrawn, 350 hands will thrown out work locally, while the Combine firms will continue working usual.

The output varies according trade, but at a rough estimate the Don Valley Glass Works at full pressure are probably capable turning out about 80.000 bottles in 24 hours But the output, as a matter of fact, does not nearly approach that. The hands of the non-Combine firms work in turn a week and week off, while the hands the Combine firms also operate in this, so to speak, sharing principle of work.

Egyptians the Early Bottle Makers.

Glass bottle making is no mushroom industry of modem growth. The Egyptians made bottles in the long ago of 200 C B.C. That the industry became popularised within the last century was not, in the case of our modem manufacturers, due to the invention of machinery, but rather to the extension of our general civilisation and its requirements. The demands of the licensed trade, the numerous new forms of temperance beverages, the improvement in the bottling fruit and the making of jams, and the general distribution of wealth which has been going on for the last few generations have had perhaps more effect upon the glass bottle industry than upon any other trade in the country.

As steam connection developed, bringing improved facilities for transit, the industry flourished, but directly the foreigner saw his opportunity and helped himself those facilities at our expense, the decline of the British article set in. And there can be no blinking the fact that, the glass bottle making industries of this country are passing through a period of depression, responsible for much misgiving for the future.

Pottery Trade Dead

The death of the pottery trade in the Mexborough district has removed another industry with historic local association. Operations at the old Denaby pottery ceased about 30 years ago, and at Mexborough two potteries established in the 18th century, are now demolished. At Swinton, where once the famous Rockingham ware was manufactured, the industry has died out. and the Don pottery, established in 1870, which employed a great number of hands, was discontinued in 1885.

The Newhill pottery has also disappeared, has the Rawmarsh pottery, dismantled only a few years ago. It is a sad record, and one hopes that the decline in the glass bottle making trade does not foreshadow further losses.