Mixed Batch - July 1958 page 12-17

Mixed Batch – 12 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958
©2007 Glass-Study.com ©2007 Glass-Study.com ©2007 Glass-Study.com
JOCK MACRAE, 10 years service as an Electrician. Plays cricket for the Company in summer. Undergoes the usual Sunderland torture in the winter. MARGARET DONEVAN, 10 years service in Pressware Factory. Likes cinemas, dancing, television, Benny Hill and Robert Taylor. JACK GARDINER, 32 years in the Engineering Department. A Roker Park fan who likes to watch boxing and likes a pint.

Once again, our Poet Laureate has been inspired to write: 

“DUFFEL” coats are put away
Now that “SUMMERS” here to stay.
Football is gone, no more to see,
So sit at home and watch T.V.

“WATTS” my Line, is there to be seen,
Or maybe you fancy “DIXON” of Dock Green.
Put on the “KETTLE”, and have some tea,
Then watch the Henry “HALL” show — it starts at three.

Or “PRIOR” to that, at half past two,
The “RYDER” Cup Tournament is filmed for you,
And one show you must see if you can
Is Maureen “O’HARA” in ‘Time waits for no “MANN” ’

A “STIRLING” show you must admit,
With our friend Viv “OLIVER” following it.



One hundred years of progress, achievements, humour, pathos, disappointments, comradeship, friendships. Could a chronicle ever be written of these one hundred years with glass, what wonderful reading it would make.

Perhaps, however, after the author had finished writing his first sixty odd years, he would introduce his chapter describing the advent of the blowing of glass in the factory, or to be more precise, the blowing of ‘PYREX’ glass.

We started modestly and cautiously, depending on what we were selling in the next few weeks, rather than formulating a five year plan. Indeed, in 1926, we only had twenty blowers working a two-shift system, with week-ends off — our largest blown article was a five litre job.

Of course, glassmaking and glass blowing was not new in Sunderland, and naturally, traditions that had been built up, and accepted in the glass industry, were soon implemented among the blowers. One of these traditions was the drinking of beer while working. This was to replace lost energy — that’s our story and we’re sticking to it. More important to the new man however, was to know how to get his beer on the slate. It was generally an expensive education to learn that you must send an identification token with the “can boy” when you got your beer. Until you arranged this with your local landlord, you were very liable to be the recipient of a “heavy bill”. Ask George Dixon.

By 1928, the Blowers were working a three-shift system, but we were still considered much the poorer relation of our Flint colleagues. Whatever our reputation though, we were not short of characters in the factory.

This period was the golden era for the Jobling’s football team, and many of the players were drawn from the blowers, and other employees. “Malley’’ Southern was the local hero, for his goal scoring feats. His play deserved the many mentions he got in the local football weekly. “Malley” was known, and still is, for his spontaneous humour, and one particular occasion comes to mind when

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Mixed Batch – 13 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958

“Malley”, having previous knowledge of Jack Collin’s “fancies” on the horses, had an early edition of the “Echo” with the results typed in the stop press column, just as Jack would like them and at generous odds. Needless to say, before Jack was enlightened to the fact that his fancies were “down the course” his bill at the local hostelry had “run” up to £2 17s. 0d., all on the “slate”. The lads had every reason to raise their glasses to Malley that day.

About the year 1930, Frank Eisner and Joe Marrovic joined the company as our first continental glassblowers, this was indeed progress. Harry Barton was also on the scene by now, drawing tubing by hand. He was a familiar sight in the district around the factory, whenever small tubing or rod was being drawn. Harry would run backwards, outside the precincts of the factory, drawing his metal.

Another feature of the factory life at this time was the habit of shift workers having their relations bring their cans and “Bait” wrapped in a red spotted handkerchief.

By 1933, we had introduced our first babies’ feeding bottle machine. This machine produced 600 per shift, when we had an operator. Our only operator was not a permanent employee of the company. His name was “Jock” Fisher, and when he was required to produce some feeding bottles, a letter would be despatched to his home in Scotland and Jock would arrive to do a shift or two of bottles. That was if the invitation came between September and April. During the summer he “caddied” on a well known golf course in Scotland. I wonder how Production Control would have allowed for this in their programmes, had they been in operation then.

Later we introduced an Armytage machine, and trained our own operators. This increased our output to 1,300 per shift. This is a far cry from the feeding bottle machine at present in the Pressware Factory, but it’s nice to know that we pioneered the product.

It was about this time that one of our female employees started bringing in sweets and chocolates for resale to the employees with a sweet tooth. Of course it was all procured on deferred payments, Friday being the day of reckoning. So what with the bill at the “Westbury”, sweets and chocolates and cigarettes from Seymour in Flint, it certainly resembled the Stock Exchange on pay-out night.

Fred Davis was “tank founder” at this time, and Fred was always good for a joke. One of his colleagues was “Bompa” Ferguson. “Bompa” was well known for his interpretations of the names of ‘new fangled gadgets’. His “Prime Minister” for the pyrometer was a classic.

‘Bompa’, who died some years ago, had all his family working in the factory, apart from his wife. Indeed, this was a strong feature of the company. Fathers would introduce their sons and daughters to the company, and although it can be said that this was due to the industrial depression that affected the area, the trend continued for many years after the depression ceased. After a hesitant period in the middle thirties, trade developed further, and the company developed with it. Mr. “Jimmie” Bowmaker was now production manager of the company, serving Mr. Jobling Purser, “The Governor”, well.

Mr. Purser was quite an enthusiastic amateur flier at this time, and he competed in the King’s Cup air race. He was well liked by the employees and knew by Christian names many of the workers. His office was always open and he had an extensive knowledge of the glass industry. His fore-sightedness and judgement are in evidence today, when we look around the factory. The company continued to grow and at the beginning of the war we had 1,100 employees.

The stories of the Blownware Factory during the war are numerous, and are often repeated when old employees meet. Firewatching at 3/6d. per night and what stories can be told about that. The fire in the carton room when the A.F.S. turned up without the nozzles to their hoses. The Essential Works Order. “Music while you work”, which is still with us after fifteen years.

It was during these difficult and dark days that “The Grange” sports ground was opened for employees. “The Grange” had been Mr. Purser’s home for many years, and it was a very pleasing and lasting gift to the Welfare Association.

In 1942 we purchased the Updraw tubing machine. The headaches that this machine caused, the friendships that were almost terminated, but all’s well that ends well. After six or seven weeks of experiments, we finally made a draw. Although I can’t say that our troubles ended there, I can say that a new era had begun.

It was also at about this time, that women were employed as blowers’ assistants on all shifts. The employment of women in this category continued

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Mixed Batch – 14 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958

for about four years, and they did a good job. Unfortunately, one of our old employees had a distressing incident with one of these women employees. This chap, old Charlie Curtis, was convinced the mould store was haunted one night. He could hear voices and strange noises. We nearly had a nervous case on our hands, until someone opened one of the big Hewittic moulds and released one of our women employees. The question of how she got there was never answered, but I believe Charlie opened up the Hewittic moulds every night after that — you can’t beat a little wishful thinking.

During the war, precautions had to be taken against air attacks. Consequently the floor of the Blownware Factory had entrances leading to underground air raid shelters, and there was no better entertainment than an ‘alert’ at 9.0 p.m., a fresh supply from the “Westbury”, and Enoch playing the mouth organ in the shelter.

The Works Cricket team was very prominent during the war, with Jimmie Bowmaker leading his men enthusiastically. This cricket team laid the basis of the present cricket team. Harry Duffell was a regular member of the team, and so was Harold Gill, now one of our Directors. Another stalwart was Peter McClusky. Peter will remember the night that he unwisely turned up for a practise and was putting his pads on behind the wicket keeper. Hughie Middlemas sent down one of his special bumpers, caught Peter on the temple who was knocked clean out. Recovering rapidly, Peter showed he was made of stern stuff by going in to lift Hughie over and out of the field. Unfortunately, Peter lost sight of the next ball, was hit, and was out again. Only a practise, not a hit at the ball, knocked out twice!

The Grange attracted quite a regular attendance from the Blownware Factory, and it wasn’t long before Harry Preston and Billy Kilner, who was shift fitter in the Blownware Factory at this time, were potential Fred Perrys.

Thankfully, the war drew to a close and with it, the cancellation of “The Essential Works Order”. In this short space of about four weeks, twenty-six blowers left the company for other jobs in the South of England. This left us with eighteen blowers. New men had to be trained and trained quickly. About 50% of these blowers did over the succeeding years, apply for re-employment, but nevertheless, the latter part of 1945 and 1946 caused a great deal of embarrassment in trying to cope with orders.

The labour situation was such that it was very difficult to engage new labour. George Rennoldson tells of one man who literally fainted on the spot, when accepted for a job.

Although that was the general story of the labour at that time, we did occasionally hire some good men. One such was Stan Amer, who joined us as a blower. Stan hadn’t been with the Company long, when he was approached by the Personnel Manager at that time, with an offer to coach Stan to put the shot at the annual sports. Stan agreed and turned up at The Grange straight from work, to find the Personnel Manager stripped and in a track suit loosening up. After a lengthy discourse, the Personnel Manager demonstrated to Stan how far you could put the shot using the right technique. He then invited Stan to try his luck, to illustrate the difference the training could make. Stan, from a two footed stance, and without any winding up, outdistanced his tutor by six feet. So ended a promising coaching career.

In 1946, the company arranged a private ‘bus service to bring possible employees from outlying districts. With this bus service about thirty employees per shift were transported. Even this arrangement had its humour, when one new employee from the outlying district was told he would be on a thirteen week cycle, he retorted that he’d only taken the job because there was supposed to be a good bus service, and that he certainly wasn’t going to travel to work on a bike.

With the general demobilisation, Mr. Hope returned to the company, as Managing Director, and at the end of the year, Jimmie Bowmaker left the company to take up an appointment in the South of England.

In 1946, the Updraw tubing machine began to produce pipeline tubing. Up to this time, pipeline lengths were made up from mould cylinders. It was a further nine years before we were able to produce 4” bore pipeline on this machine.

In 1948, the oxycutting machines were transferred to the Blownware Factory to facilitate better line production.

In 1949, the auto presses were transferred to Leopold Street, and this proved to be the swan song of auto-presses in the Blownware Factory.

About this time, No. 2 tank sprang a leak early one Sunday morning. Everyone was informed, including higher management, and the Works fire brigade. Employees love to recall that

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Mixed Batch – 15 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958

when the Managing Director went below to examine the situation at close hand, Fireman Douglas (ex J.A.J.) accidentally?? played the hose in the wrong direction.

In 1949, Mr. Purser sold out to Pilkingtons and there was a big turnout of Blownware Factory employees at the Boldon Stadium for a last farewell to the “Governor”. Mr. Purser was presented with a portrait of himself. This occasion was impregnated with nostalgia, and we’re only sorry that Mr. Purser finds it impossible to visit us from his home in Ireland.

It was only six months after this ceremony that the company became associated with the Tilling group.

In 1952, the first company dinner was arranged. This, however, had grown from many enjoyable departmental dinners of previous years. These dinners had been arranged by the glassmakers (Flint and Blownware) annually for about twenty years previous to the first company dinner. From the room at the “Oddfellows Arms”, to the “George and Dragon” and “The Grand Hotel”, and it was at the first company dinner that many of us realised just how big the company was becoming.

Employees were able to join the Superannuation scheme run by the Tilling group and the annual holiday was extended to two weeks. The company was gearing itself for an even greater effort to capture bigger markets and expand even further.

To return to more parochial subjects, the Blownware Factory lost the last of its hand operated Pan lehrs in 1952.

In 1953, a big change was introduced in the tank design, instead of open holes into the tanks, forebays were built.

Each year, progress was maintained, but 1957 was a particularly important year for us in the Blownware Factory. A Turret Chain machine was installed. This machine, which was capable of producing 2,500 blown articles per hour, was regarded with great awe. It says much for our engineers, our technical men and our own supervision and employees, that this machine was soon taken in the factory’s stride.

This year also saw the installation of the “Velio” horizontal tubing machine, which in its own right is a very important addition to our plant.

We now stand on the threshold of an intensified effort to increase production, and we are proud that among our employees, we have many long serving friends. We look forward with confidence to the future and sincerely hope that in the year 2058, this company is still flourishing, and that someone will write complimentary passages to us who were privileged to share and help to build this company, which is now celebrating its centenary.


In common with many other departments, we in Production Control find ourselves “Under New Management”, as a result of the recent changes in Company organisation, and whilst we were sorry to say farewell to Mr. Gill, we feel Mr. Underhill is proving a worthy successor to him in championing the cause of Production Control.

Although we haven’t been given apartments in the “Glass Palace”, our new office is a considerable improvement on the old one. We notice however, that we get fewer callers now and those who do visit us, usually arrive wheezing and palpitating after climbing the stairs!

Having enjoyed a fairly long period without any variation in staff, we have recently found ourselves faced with several changes. Vera and Carol have left us to devote their attention to making proud papas of their respective hubbies. We wish them every happiness for the future. We welcome, as replacements, Lorna Harnett and Dorothy Cockton, and hope they will enjoy working with us. Two more newcomers are Peter Cox and Jack Duery and we are sure they will give much needed help to the other stalwarts on our staff.

After spending some years on progress work in the Apparatus Factory, Sid Wright has handed over to George Peverley, the task of ensuring that the jobs — even the “time” ones — keep moving. George has gained valuable experience during his association with the department and with the assistance of Gordon Hall and his boys in the store and Shiela in the office, he is carrying on in the “Wright” manner!

Meanwhile Sid has transferred his attention to the Blownware Carton Room, where the ever-increasing range of cartons to be handled creates numerous difficulties of storage and control of stocks. The Turret Chain Machine — also known

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Mixed Batch – 16 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958
©2007 Glass-Study.com ©2007 Glass-Study.com ©2007 Glass-Study.com
THOMAS STOKER, 6 years service in Decorating Department. Hobbies: swimming, dancing and photography. Shortly joining the R.A.F. for National Service. BERNARD MULLEN, 7 years in the Joiner’s Shop. 6 years in the R.E. – finished as W.O.2. Hobbies fishing, drinking and Roker Park. JOE McCARTHY, likes to keep his pot-making art as secret as possible, also his length of service. Joe is a good sport, liked by all who know him, and known by most. Would like to see the spotlight of publicity turned more onto the people who make refractories.

as Mac’s Monster — has a voracious appetite for cartons as Tessie and her girls know only too well. Incidentally, anyone who thinks the handling of cartons is easy work should volunteer to help in the Carton Room on one of those days when several motors arrive together for unloading. Just the job for keeping a trim waist-line!


It is worth recording in this the centenary year of the company that the Pipe Line department first saw the light in the year 1941.

The department was in those days actually known as the S.A. department in charge of Mr. A. G. Thacker with Mr. G. W. Hindmarch as his assistant. It was situated on the present B.F.D. floor and many of the well known personalities of those days are still with the company. The names that come to my mind are Mr. M. Oliver, Mr. C. De Roche, Miss J. Hall, Mr. H. C. Duffell, Mr. G. Rennoldson, Mr. C. Dobbing, Mr. A. Oliver and Mr. H. Curry. The other well-known personalities who have since left the company are Mr. G. Adamson, Mr. W. Hardy (Drawing Office) Mr. F. Cook (Engineering) Miss K. Dunningham (Lamp Room) and then the Production Manager Mr. E. J. C. Bowmaker.

I well remember pipe line orders in those days were vetted and translated by Mr. S. George (Order Dept.) and Mr. W. Hardy (Drawing Office) before coming direct to the S.A. Dept.

The number of lathes we had was two, one of which the old hands will still remember as ‘Big Bertha’. The operators were E. Tingle and D. Cameron with D. Wallace as a reserve. Special work would be undertaken by lamp working personnel. The names I recall are G. Rennoldson and R. Graham.

In 1943 the number of lathes was increased to four effective with Big Bertha as a stand in for large diameter work. By this time pipe line orders were coming along in a regular flow which necessitated shift work. Our present chargehand Mr. B. Haswell joined the company at that time together with other well known personnel names C. Hutchinson, E. Andrews and N. Kerr, M. Hardcastle and F. Johnson.

In 1947 the Pipe line department became established as a separate unit under the management of Mr. J. G. Window. The department at this time was situated at the cast end of the present Apparatus factory floor having moved from the area now occupied by Inspection.

In 1948 the department returned to B.F.D. floor. The number of lathes had now been increased to seven and a lampworking strength of six.

In May 1952 the Pipe line department was transferred to its present position on the Pallion Trading Estate as a complete unit. Raw material was fed in from the Wear Glass Works and fabricated, stored packed and despatched therefrom.

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Mixed Batch – 17 – James A. Jobling & Co. Ltd. July 1958

In 1953 when Mr. J. G. Window left to join the present Q.V.F. organisation, Mr. C. Wigg then took over and was succeeded by Mr. J. C. Williams at Christmas 1954. Mr. Morrell then took the reins in 1955, by which time lathe capacity had increased to nine.

In November 1956, Mr. Morrell left the department to take over the pressware factory. The factory has been under present management since that date.

One of the highlights of Pipe Line fabrication took place with the advent of the Duplex double headed lathe which fabricates both ends of a 10ft. length of pipe line at one and the same time.

In July-August 1957, with a view to the streamlining of the organisation all stockholding was transferred to the new Q.V.F. headquarters at Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent. This lead to the present set up, whereby the J.A.J. Pipe Line Factory at Pallion, and the Quickfit & Quartz Chemical plant section manufacture all pipe line and chemical plant products which are warehoused and distributed by Q.V.F. Sales Organisation.

And now for some news of the present day:

Since our last contribution to Mixed Batch we have had quite a number of ‘comings and goings’ so we will start by announcing these changes:

Cheerio to:

Mrs. H. Young Luxdon Laundry
Kitty Wilson Brian Mills
Muriel Harper Edison Swan
Ann Stewart Housewife
Maureen Caffrey Mother
Shiela Stubbs Sales Dept. Main Works
Jim Camsey (Jnr.) Blown W’house, M. Wks.
Ernie Corner App. Factory, M. Wks.

Hello to:

Joan Frankland, Valerie Hunt, Peggy Semple Brenda Calvet, Dorothy Scott, John Smith (late of the Main Factory) We hope their stay will be a happy one.

Congratulations to:

Mr. Hindmarch a son, John Ian
Broad James a son, Gary Robson

We would like to wish Ernie Watts, who has been ill for some time now, a quick recovery.

The peace of our little factory was disturbed a few days ago by the arrival of a Welfare Notice (this on its own being worthy of mention) about a Bowls Tournament. Two teams were immediately formed and the confidence of our bowlers(?) has reached such heights that we expect both our teams to be in the final (providing no other teams enter).

We close hoping for a fine annual holiday and a bumper production schedule from Q.V.F.!!



The Refractories Department, as such, cannot claim to be 100 years old like some of the glass production sections but, of course, refractories were being used then but they were quite different materials from those we know now. I understand that the early glassmakers in this area used a rich silica rock quarried in the Penshaw Hill for containing their glass. Perhaps this material would be worth a trial again if we can arrange something with the Lambton Worm!

The Refractories Department was first formed in 1920 when Joe McCarthy first settled down in these works; he did make pots here previous to this but he was more of a “wandering tinker”, working for many glassworks in the area. The latest changes are significant because they show how glassworks still demand a very specialised type of refractory which, as in the old days, is still best made at individual glassworks to suit their special requirements.

The changes that have taken place with the expansion of slip cast production are that the Laboratory under Arthur Brown is now under John Stirling, and Joe McCarthy and his staff of the Pot Loft have combined with Slip Cast Production. By the way, “Taffy” Moyle wants his name mentioned. It was missed out of the last issue. He had his coat on and was walking out but we managed to persuade him to stay on the understanding that he was given special mention in this issue.


Things have been very quiet since the last issue we’re still in our old quarters.

The lads seem to have enjoyed Ken’s smokers; let’s have many more! (Does anyone know of a brand of onions that doesn’t smell?)

Charlie Thirkettle is now square bashing — he has our sympathy.

Walter has gone into hospital for a short spell; we wish him a speedy return to good health.

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