Scope and Content

Comprising: Accounts, 1904-1923; Correspondence, 1900-1919; Customers, 1896-1917; Employees 1901-1920; Other records, early 20th century

Administrative / Biographical History

The firm was established in 1850, when Thomas and Joseph Barron and a number of partners purchased an existing flint-glass works at Mexborough. (The Barrons originated from Hunslet in the parish of Leeds, where they had been involved in glassmaking, and arrived at Mexborough after working in the trade in Castleford.) The business was successful, ('Collars and cuffs and a glance at the newspaper were not much in their line in those days', reported the local newspaper admiringly some sixty years later) but the other partners left the partnership to establish the south Yorkshire Glass Bottle Works at Swinton, leaving the Mexborough business in the possession of Thomas and Joseph Barron. The brothers dissolved their partnership in 1864, and split the ownership of the works into two firms. One part, later known as the Phoenix works, whose surviving records are catalogued here, became the sole property of Thomas (1812-1887), and subsequently his sons. Before its acquisition by the partners, the small business had specialised in flint-glass, the 'higher class article', but the new owners diversified and increased their scale of production, making principally pickle jars and wine bottles at first, producing up to 150 gross (just under 22,000) items a week and employing 40 to 50 men. A gas furnace was introduced in 1884 and further innovations followed. By 1887 there were four Seimens gas furnaces and a flint house, where the higher quality flint glass was made. According to a newspaper article published in 1910, the most prosperous period for the Phoenix work was between 1872 and 1888, when it produced 200,000 bottles of many varieties a week and employed between 350 and 400. By the time the articles appeared, the firm was reduced to half this level both in output and employment, and the partners were apprehensive of German and Belgian competition. After a respite provided by the 1914-1918 war, the company closed in the early 1920s

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Related Material

Further information may be found in articles in the Mexborough and Swinton Times, 19 August 1887 (obituary of Thomas Barron) and 29 October 1910