Jumping back to 1975 for memories of Jobling’s factory

What a right Royal winner this Sunderland company was.

By Chris Cordner
Friday, 19th April 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th April 2019, 11:34 am

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Packing casserole dishes for export.
Packing casserole dishes for export.

James A Jobling and Co made glassware for the domestic, laboratory and industrial markets. It was so good at what it did, it won a Queen’s Award to Industry for Export in 1975.

Many of you may know its customer division best. After all, it was the firm which made table glassware under the Pyrex brand and exported to more than 90 overseas markets.

David Swindells, managing director, watches Carol Casey at work.

It was a huge success. In 1975, its exports alone accounted for £3.7million a year.

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And it was doing a roaring trade in destinations such as Germany, Scandinavia (where it had a sales office in Malmo in Sweden), and Malaysia.

It sold well in Singapore and South Africa and David Swindells, who was the managing director of the consumer division at the time, explained in 1975 why it was doing so well.

Quality, decorations, acceptable design, and packaging all contributed to a great brand, he said.

Workers at the Sunderland factory of James A Jobling and Co.

And the Pyrex products had been produced to cater for the specific markets they were being sent to.

A tradition of commercial glass making began on Wearside in the Seventh Century when Sunderland’s patron saint Benedict Biscop brought Gallic craftsmen from France to create stained-glass windows for the monastery he was building at Monkwearmouth.

But it was Pyrex and James A Jobling who kept up the tradition centuries later.

We last reflected on Pyrex a year ago and nearly 23,000 of you took an interest in our social media post back then.

Workers apply transfers to tableware for world markets.

Our photographs show workers packing casserole dishes for the export market in 1975. They also show workers applying transfers to tableware for world markets.

Did you work at the factory and what are your recollections of it?

Get in touch and tell us more by emailing [email protected]

We would love to hear from you. Let’s share the memories.