Redfearn National Glass, 1970s


[Photo: Andy Tuckwell]

The factory alongside the Foss, pictured here in 1977, closed in 1984.

And some bottles … and a jar … (2018 update)

This page, as it originally appeared, was just that photo and caption above. I added it in November 2011, seven years back, one of the first postings that was more blog-like and open to comments, after an overhaul of the website. (I’d been online here for seven years before that, without a comments facility.)

Thanks to everyone who has added the comments below since then, particularly those remembering working here. Sorry I haven’t been able to reply to them all. But a recent comment/query from Daniel reminded me that I really should get around to adding photos of three bottles I have, which were made here in the 1970s and 80s. Below my photos are photos Daniel sent me of the small jar he has which appears to have been made here at an earlier date, when the factory was the National Glass Works (York).

Three bottles given to me by my stepdad, John Jones, who worked at Redfearns:

Redfearn Glass, GMF visit commemorative bottle, 1976

Redfearn Glass, GMF visit commemorative bottle, 1976

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1977 jubilee

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1977 jubilee

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1977 jubilee

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1977 jubilee

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1981 royal wedding

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1981 royal wedding

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1981 royal wedding (detail)

Bottle made at Redfearn National Glass Ltd, for 1981 royal wedding (detail)

And Daniel’s jar:




Daniel’s bottle has an N in a diamond shape on the base. A website on glass bottle marks has some information (thanks to Mike in the comments, who originally suggested this link):

N in a diamond……………National Glass Works (York), Limited, Fishergate, York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (c.1930-1967). Known as York Flint Glass Company, founded circa 1837. Incorporated as National Glass Works in 1930. National merged with Redfearn Glass Works in 1967. York factory closed c. 1984?? Exact stretch of years of usage of the N-Diamond mark is unclear, but it was surely in use at least during the 1950s and 1960s. Additional info on dates of usage of the mark is sought from readers!

— a photo alongside has the accompanying caption ‘(As seen on base of kitchen canister or spice jar)’. This might be what Daniel has? His example seems to have ended up in Australia.

Further information

On this site, see also: glassworks clock

York Press – LOST YORK: 53 photos of Redfearn National Glass (3 Oct 2016)

. . . . .

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  1. Andy Tuckwell

    It was a great place for a student to get holiday work as it paid really well – £100 a week in 1979 when my rent was £5 a week! The site was really tightly filled in with machinery as they had been there for ages and squeezed in higher capacity equipment. It ran continuously making millions of ordinary bottles and jars, just stopping for a week at Christmas. Molten glass dripping down from furnaces overhead into mechanical blowing machines; long annealing ovens; conveyor belts and packing machinery. Noisy, hot and busy, but it was nice to take a break on a night shift and watch the sun rise over the Foss out at the back, then cycle home at 6.00 while the rest of the city slumbered.

  2. iv just got my hands on the factory master clock from this glass works it was removed in 1989 when the factory was demolished ,i would love to hear from anyone that remembers seeing my clock at the factory , thanks ian

    • roy byers

      Hi Ian,I am an interested bottle collector,i came on this website because i worked at National Glass in York until 1970,my Father worked there for 45years.I remember the Master clock when i was a apprentice,i think thats what you have, i punched my time card in it many times before i went into the drawing office to work.Can you scan a picture of it?.Where are you living?i have lived in South Africa for the past 45years.All the best Roy

      • Hi Roy, we have a photo, it’s on a later page on the site, see: I think Ian, who has it, is still living in York. Thanks for your comment, please do add any more information or memories you have about the glassworks either here or on I’ll let Ian know you’ve left a comment,

      • He mate I have a jar that was bad by national glass co that meets everything said on the net about it been a jar of some age I’m unsure would you be able to guide me in the direction of someone to look at it please

      • Susan Ewen

        Hi…I wonder if your dad knew my grandfather…William Murdoch Horsburgh
        He was the research scientist there in 1930ish

  3. Roy Byers

    Thanks Lisa for your reply,yes this was the Master clock, we used a punch clock which was connected to the Master it was close to the main gates in Fishergate.I will forward the photo to one of my old colleagues who lives near Capetown i am still in contact with him, also i still have a colleague who lives in Bishopthorpe he would also remember the clock
    Thanks Roy, Potchefstroom, South Africa

    • Gillian Kelly

      I have a framed statement from the Purchasing Manager, Tom Bucknall, if anyone knows if any of his family are still around, or if there is some sort of museum of memorabilia please let me know.

      • Richard John Cameron

        I remember the clock very well. I worked at York NGW commencing 9th September 1956 when I was 24 until 1977 (A few months short of my gold watch. Lol) I still have the two bottles of sherry given to us to commemorate the queen’s silver jubilee in 1977. Still unopened. For my sins, I was in quality control for many of those years.

        • Your comment has reminded me that I also have a couple of commemorative bottles from the glassworks, given to me by a relative – though mine are empty (and were when I got them). I will try to get around to adding photos of them to the page above. Nice to know you remember the clock mentioned too.

        • ernest smith , yes I still have mine

          I a m trying to trace Peter Coates, we had walking club, Group Four Walking Club.
          Happy days

          • Ray gledhill

            Hi Ernie i wasinthewalkingclub only just found this remember Pete Coates my name is RayGledhill

        • ernest smith , yes I still have mine

          Richard John, you would maybe remember John .C Wilson I can visualize his office now, where he use cellatape bits of broken bottles on to a mold,he had one all made up, when some came in slammed the door back and send his bottle flying,
          all John said was” dash jigger”

        • ernest smith , yes I still have mine

          I think us sorters only got 2 empty bottles,
          I believe there is one in the St Vincent Arms at Sutton-on-Derwent
          we got 2 decanters as well but no stoppers
          any body out there that use to be in the walking club
          Ernie smith

          • John McClure

            Hi Ernie. You introduced me to walking in mid 70’s-The White Rose Walk followed by the the Cleveland Way.Iwas on the lehr end stacking the boxes..Big Tom also a walker lives near me.Hope you are well

  4. I have a little jar with stars around the bottom of it with the “N” in a diamond on the base . I’ve tried researching this but can’t find anything could someone help me if I provide pictures.

  5. Hi Daniel. The glassmaker’s mark that you mention is from the National Glass Works (York).

    Further to the general discussion on the factory, one of my ancestors worked there from the late 1870s until his death in 1914. Henry Casper (born 1860 Friargate, died 1914 Alma Terrace) was initially an apprentice and went on to become a Glass Blower: he was also part of the team that made and installed new Windows in St. Wilfred’s Catholic Church in Duncombe Place. He was followed into the trade by two of his sons; Thomas Henry, who moved to Barnsley at the new Redfearn glass factory; and William who became the Branch Secretary of the Glass Makers Union.

    • Thank you Mike the article you sent through has been the only article I could prior to posting my original comment there just doesn’t seem to much info on the company

    • Kevin blakeman

      My great great great grandfather was a managing director at York glass works from about the 1860s till his death in 1908 his name is James butler

    • Hi Mike, Henry was my husbands gg uncle. I’d love to hear any more I information you have. Debi

  6. Daniel, there are a number of records held at YorkExplore concerning the successor to the National Glass Works (York): Redfearns. A few years ago I remember searching for the location of papers relating to any worker’s records that may b archived somewhere. Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact location of where I traced them to but I have a vague memory of it being Barnsley: possibly a Community College; or some museums trust. Redfearns were a Barnsley company so that would make sense. Good hunting.

  7. I’ll have to keep doing my research then when I have the spare time and remember about it . I’m definitely interested in trying to find out how it may have ended up in Brisbane ,Australia . I had actually dug it Up on a jobsite

  8. David Birch

    I worked part time as a cleaner in the glass factory when I was doing my D.Phil. at York University in the late 1970s. I had a flat close by and my wages from my cleaning work paid the rent. I have happy memories of my time there and of the other (all ladies) cleaners who used to give me mountains of misshaped chocolates from Rowntrees and Terrys where their husbands worked. They all kept me very grounded while I was doing very esoteric research and I will always remember their kindness and support. It was a good place to work.

  9. John maddison

    I worked at Refearns from 1969 to when it closed in 1983 started as packer and then became a sorter, worked on group 3 to start with and then moved to group 1, then moved to hot end and became an operator then moved on to the mould change, from there I moved to the furnace until it closed.

  10. That comment regarding the pictured jar; ‘As seen on base of kitchen canister or spice jar’ looks like a Shippam’s paste jar that was made during my time working there (1978-1980). Accept the one pictured is a lot older, but it looks almost identical to the one during my time there.

    • Thank you for your reply. it does look very similar to the shippams paste jar so I’ll have a look in that direction and do some research thank you

      • Hi Daniel, did you find out any information about your jar? I have recently found one myself whilst digging in the garden. Mine looks exactly the same as yours. I was just wondering if you could shed any light on its history. Thanks

    • ernest smith , yes I still have mine

      Shippams meat paste jars were produced on c7 and were on nearly permanently,there was rumor, that they covered the cost of all other containers produced.

  11. Lovely to visit this website… My dad, David McDonald, worked in personnel at Redfearns in the early 70’s. He bought home a rough glass ingot from one of the old crucibles; I still have it. He always got excited about finding the Redfearn stamp on the base of bottles in subsequent years!

  12. Stephen Hindson

    I started working at National Glass around 1963 with Roy Byers. I first started in the Mould Design dept. under Mike Johnson then later transferred to Product Development with Dave Anderson responsible for creating new bottle designs in collaboration with clients such as General Foods, Nestle, Unilever, Libby McNeil, Marmite etc. Travelling all around England and meeting with these companies was very interesting, sometimes having to resolve technical problems for them. When a new shape had been approved we would have a perspex model made and I got to prepare mock up labels for them. I really enjoyed my time at National which later merged with Redfearns and I got the job of bringing all their specifications and ours up to metrication standards… a big job !

    • Tim johnson

      My dad was mike johnson. Nice to see his name somewhere. I remember as a child the Christmas parties the company held for kids.

  13. Hiya both my parents worked here, my dad leaving when it closed down in 1983. Always used to tell us about the place being haunted! Anyone else got any spooky tales about the factory?

  14. Redfern had a bottle made for an anniversary I think around the early 80s and had them filled with Grant’s mault whisky I believe they were available to staff, my brother worked there at the time and sent me a bottle not opened yet, does any one have more information on these my brother past away a few weeks ago.

  15. Hi, could anyone please tell me any information on the Daniel jar please? My 7 year old son found it in our local river and would love some more information please, many thanks

  16. While clearing my parents house, I have come across a 1977 Queens Jubilee bottle made by Redfearns,it is intact sealed with contents. My dad used to work there as a security guard and my uncle work on the shop floor.

  17. Elizabeth Parry

    My friend has come across a glass bottle with the marble stopper in it made by Lands Ltd Barnsley for John Andrew and sons chemist Cumnock Ayrshire. It also has printed on the bottle Relience 4 sole maker by lands ltd barnsley just looking for some information regarding age and any other information you may have

  18. Martin Foley

    I have fond memories of working at RNG, I think in 1970, or 1971. My firm was Noel Wainwright electrical contractors. We were called in for electrical work the factory electrical department either did not have the capacity to cope with, or as was also suggested, to dirty for their own staff. As a young apprentice electrician that did not bother me, in face it was quite an adventure. Only drawback was needing a long thorough bath each night when getting home. Ceilings at the hot end had a thick coating of soot and accidentally dragging ones hair through it resulted in a thick black shower of clinging soot. Happy days though. Kinda sorry to find the factory closed down several years ago.

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