David M Issitt ~ Leading Expert on English Coloured Glass

Bagley Glass - A Royal Distinction
The 1937 Bagley Glass Royal Visit Commemorative Book

Glass making in Yorkshire, England dates back to the seventeenth century, however its prominence was not fully appreciated until the nineteenth century when it became a dominant area of glass producers. It is said that during the latter part of the nineteenth century the West Riding area of Yorkshire became the most important manufacturing area in the country, although I am sure that would be disputed by many. The area gave leadership not only in the production of glass but also in the movement of workforces and the invention and development of machinery within the industry.

Dr. F. W. Hodkin a director of Bagley & Co. said in an address to the Yorkshire section of the Society of Glass Technology in 1953: "The earliest definite knowledge of glass making in Yorkshire takes us back no further than the middle of the seventeenth century. As a seeker after truth I freely admit that glass making flourished in London, Newcastle, Stourbridge and Bristol before it did so in Yorkshire".

The history of Bagley Glass can be traced back to 1871 when a bottle factory was formed in the town of Knottingley in South Yorkshire. The factory was to run from 1871 to 1975 before it closed and as with many glassmaking factories much of their work has now become very collectable. Like so many glassmakers of this era, in 1912 they changed their name to "The Crystal Glass Company Limited", which enabled them to diversify into the realms of crystal and pressed glass.

Pages from the Bagley Glass book
Pages from the 1937 Bagley Glass
Royal Commemorative Visit Book
Bagley Vaseline Glass Trinket Set c.
A Bagley Blue-Green Uranium/Vaseline
Glass Trinket Set c.1939
Initially William Bagley and his cousin John William Bagley, in partnership formed the company with a John Wild calling it 'Bagley, Wild & Company', the factory, being sited in Weeland Road in Knottingley. William Bagley was born in Hunslet in 1842 and died on Wednesday 16th January 1924. William Bagley, in 1850 at the tender age of eight, began his life in the glass industry working at Pilkington Bros. Ltd. of St. Helens, Lancashire. William, after a few years, then moved to Castleford in Yorkshire during the 1860's, where he became very active in trade union affairs and was elected as the central secretary of the Glass Bottle Makers of Yorkshire United Trade Protection Society. From 1869 to 1871 he was manager at the Yorkshire Glass Bottle Company in Ferrybridge before entering into partnership and forming Bagley, Wild and Company of Knottingley. It was at the Lord Mayors Show in London in 1875 that William Bagley saw for himself the flag belonging to the Glass Makers Trade Union being carried at the head of the Coopers Company, of which company the Sheriff of London, Edgar Brefitt was a member. In 1876 William Bagley made strenuous efforts that finally led to the formation of the Yorkshire Glass Bottle Manufacturers Association. Later some 15 years on, the Yorkshire Flint Glass Manufacturers Association was formed in Leeds.
Knottingley was an ideal location for a glassworks with the construction of the Knottingley to Goole canal in 1826 coupled with the introduction of the local railways after 1845. The existing road and river links gave the town a comprehensive communications network, and being in the Yorkshire coal-field area and located centrally in the country it had very easy access to raw materials as well as markets for its products, which ensured a successful area. Bagley's Glassworks were part of that success within Yorkshire, but due to certain financial difficulties, in 1898 it was reformed as a private company under the name of 'Bagley and Company'. In 1912 another change to the company took place when it changed its name yet again. This time with the production of crystal and pressed glass the new name was to be The Crystal Glass Company. During this period the company continued to produce its full range of glass bottles for which it had become famous and also diversified into pressed glass for domestic use. Lead crystal glass was only produced within the company for about two years. Bagley Andromeda Glass Flower Frog Set
Bagley 'Andromeda' Glass Flower Frog & 'Queen's Choice' Bowl c.1930's
Bagley Art Deco Glass Lamp
Bagley Art Deco Glass
Perseus & Andromeda
Table Lamp c.1930's
Back in 1866 a Mr. Joshua Arnall, the local postmaster at Ferrybridge, had patented a design for the first bottle-making machine and by 1892 well over 2000 bottles per day were being produced. The machine,known as the 'plank machine', produced more conformed bottles that had been experienced by the traditional hand-blown method. The foresight of William Bagley became evident when in 1899 he purchased the patent for this machine and this resulted in other bottle producing companies finding they were unable to compete, which left the bottle making industry with one major producer.

Following the death of John William Bagley in 1897 the company set out on a program of change. Modernisation was to take place and bring it to the forefront of glassmaking for many years. In June 1898 William Bagley was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of Bagley & Co. However it was an American company, who in 1905 invented the Owens Automatic Bottle machine. Bagley purchased the rights to the Owens machine for Europe, which certainly gave Bagley the upper hand within the industry. At the time the machine was considered to be one of the most wonderful inventions of the age as it was entirely automatic and reduced the output of mouth blown glass.
Having in 1913 started to produce white flint glass confectionery jars, which were at the time being imported from European glass makers by the trade, this all came to an abrupt end with the onset of war. Work on this production line ceased and in their place they made electric light bulbs, tumblers for NAFFI canteens as well as glass tubing. It was during this time that we see how craftsmen from other areas, namely the North East, brought their knowledge to bear on the local workforce. It was at this time a subsidiary company, the 'Crystal Glass Co.' was formed.

William Bagley was, after his death in 1924, remembered with utmost respect as a pioneer within the Yorkshire glass industry and with undoubtable affection by many of his workforce. He was a disciplinarian in as much as he would empty bottles of beer and break them, should any of his employees be caught sneaking them into the factory. William Bagley was an elected member of Knottingley Urban District Council and in 1894 was appointed as Justice of the Peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire, a position he held for the next 30 years.
Davidson Yellow Pearline vaseline Glass Sweetmeat Dish c.1893
Bagley Glass Chambersticks c.1920's
Bagley Glass Flower Frog, Bowl & Plinth
Bagley 'Queens Choice' Flower
Bowl, Frog and Plinth c.1920's
In 1924 the firm were invited to exhibit in London at the Wembley exhibition, where it was reported that Queen Mary purchased many items of glassware from a range which would later become known as the 'Queen's Choice'. On the 21st October 1937 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by the Princess Royal, were given a tour of the company's works. A special plate was produced in pressed glass to commemorate the Royal occasion which was presented to the employees of the company. To accompany the commemorative plate a souvenir booklet was also issued. From around 1906 to the time of the Royal visit the workforce had seen a significant increase from 200 to over 800 employees. Successful times were being had by the company and during the 1930's under the management of Percy and Stanley Bagley the firm introduced a new range of decorative glass under the trademark 'Crystalynt'. The sought after fame the company had strived for was soon to be realised as this range of glassware soon became very popular and is now a firm favourite with collectors of Bagley Glass worldwide.
It is said that the new partnership had brought together two qualities, Percy was regarded by many as the practical glassmaker, whereas Stanley was the true businessman and administrator. Thus many types and styles of ornamental glass were produced including many vases and bowls in a variety of colours which included, rose pink, pastel blue, amber and pastel green, all being made in both frosted and transparent finishes. Uranium was a common source for producing yellow and green coloured glass, but in the early 1940's it was banned as a glass constituent due to its new use in defence. The British government even confiscated large quantities of glassmaking materials, which had a uranium content and it is reported Bagley had some three tons of materials confiscated. During the years 1931 and 1939 Bagley produced items made in an 'ice cube' pattern which they duly called "Honeycomb". It is know that within this range they made a two-handled sugar bowl, a square lidded honey pot, a cream jug and a butter dish. This design is easily confused with the Fostoria American pattern. However if you have a piece of both manufacturers, the Bagley piece can be easily distinguished as the pattern is a somewhat smaller cube than its American counterpart. Another line introduced was jade glass and an opaque black glass, which was called 'Jetique'. After World War II in the latter part of the 1940's they added a further range of opaque coloured glass under the name 'Crystopal'. Bagley Vaseline Glass Vase
Bagley Uranium/Vaseline
Glass 'Wyndham' Vase c.1930's
Bagley Glass Wall Pockets
Bagley 'Jetique' Glass Wall Pockets
There had been very little opportunity for capital investment during the war years, but new markets began to open and there was a necessity to modernise and install new furnaces to accommodate the increase in demand for glassware. There was at this time a move from coal to oil fired furnaces as well as installing fusion cast refractories, which ensured longer life furnaces. At this time many companies introduced a machine known as the Independent Section feeder. However Bagley were slow to grasp this new technology as they pressed on with the Owens machine. It was not until 1947 that Bagley installed their first Independent Section [IS] machine.
Bagley Glass, like many other companies, was pressured by similar companies in take-over bids and finally the Jackson Glass Company of Knottingley took over Bagley in 1962. However in turn Jacksons' Glass Company became part of the large Rockware Glass Company in 1968. It was in 1994 , when the Bagley factory at Knottingley was acquired by an Austrian company, Stolze Oberglas AG. A huge investment programme, with no expense spared, in installing the most advanced regenerative furnace with a capacity of 108 tonnes and a life span of 8 years, took place. A subsidiary of Stolze Oberglas AG was duly formed under the name 'Stolze Flacconage'. Production was finally started in 1995 and they now operate four IS machines producing a staggering 55000 to 60000 bottles each day with a workforce of around 200. High quality glassware is produced and most of the output goes to supply the cosmetic industry, which includes such household names as Christian Dior, Yves St. Laurent, Bourjois, L'Oreal and Revlon. A vast difference from the time when Bagley came into existence, way back during those Victorian days. Bagley Jetique Glass Basket
Bagley 'Jetique'
Glass Basket
The following registered design numbers were allocated to Bagley & Co. on the dates shown:
732176 12 Sep 1927
742290 04 Dec 1928
777674 21 Oct 1932
781996 30 Mar 1933
782221 06 Apr 1933
782234 07 Apr 1933
782436 18 Apr 1933
785064 21 Jul 1933
787536 01 Nov 1933
790480 20 Feb 1934
790481 20 Feb 1934
790482 20 Feb 1934
795455 07 Aug 1934
798236 23 Nov 1934
798842 18 Dec 1934
798843 18 Dec 1934
798844 18 Dec 1934
801851 04 Apr 1935
804397 10 Jul 1935
811929 04 May 1936
813237 22 Jun 1936
816035 22 Oct 1936
817574 15 Jan 1937
821905 12 Jul 1937
827045 22 Mar 1938

A Bagley Glass Advertisement and Trademarks  

A Bagley Glass '00' Gauge Model Railway Wagon made by Bachmann

A brief insight into the Jackson's Glassworks, which took over Bagley in 1962.

Tom and John Jackson had both served apprenticeships at the Bagley factory and in 1893 with very little capital they decided to form a manufacturing base of their own. Little would they realise some 60 plus years later the company they formed would take over Bagley Glassworks. It was only through hard toil shedding much blood, sweat and tears that they were able to make a success of their company in those early days of the late nineteenth century. John Jackson was affectionately known as 'Mr. John' and seemed to work endlessly at the glassworks. So much so it is reported he even had his meals sent into the factory rather than take time out to go home for them. Such was the eagerness of these brothers that the union received complaints from the workforce, which duly resulted in the union's secretary paying them a visit one Saturday evening. There he found them working away making stoppers and it was only then he realised that not only did they work alongside the workforce, they also worked much longer hours. The complaint was taken no further after this visit.

Many a tale is said about Mr. John. On one occasion he recalled that the coal slack being used to heat the glory holes proved very difficult to obtain the required temperatures. He immediately is said to have sent some boys to the adjacent railway sidings to badger the engine drivers, who in turn would respond by throwing large lumps of coal at them which were gleefully collected and taken back to the works to fire the glory holes.

In 1912 the firm was restructured and a private limited company resulted. Also investment into modern equipment was made, including the Schiller from Germany and the O'Neill from the USA. It was not until after World War II that further investment was to be seen at the Jackson's Glassworks. Jackson's were very ambitious at this time and saw the potential of new markets opening up. They also realised the potential of the IS machines and built new works. The culmination of the work put into the company resulted in 1962 in the take over of Bagley & Co.

John Jackson was a pillar of society involved in many local affairs as well as serving continuously as an elected member of Knottingley Urban District Council for 62 years. So like William Bagley the two of them both go down in the history of not only glassmaking but of local politics.

I hope this brief article has given you an insight into the glass produced by Bagley & Co. and enable
you to appreciate what difficult times there were within the glass industry of South Yorkshire.

David M Issitt

Note: Additional examples of Bagley glass can be viewed in the various Glass Photo Galleries on this website.

This article is copyright protected and cannot be used
in any form without the expressed permission of
David M. Issitt the author.
Copyright 2005

The illustrations within this document are copyright Tony Hayter (1st.Glass) 2008

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