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Remembering Phoenix Glass

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 17, 2014

By John Workman

  • A blue rose bowl made by Phoenix Glass

  • Delia Finch's cherished Phoenix Glass gravy boat

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THE article in last week's Bugle about Phoenix Glass has certainly given rise to several memories from our readers, but we should like to repeat Natalie Cole's request for further information.

Natalie, from the Bilston Craft Gallery, would still like to hear from former workers of the Bilston-based firm, or those who have any connection with company and she can be contacted on 01902 552507 or via email natalie.cole@wolverhampton. gov.uk, before Friday February 21, 2014.

In July of this year the Bilston Craft Gallery, in conjunction with the Black Country Memories Club, is planning an exhibition to celebrate the history of Phoenix Glass and Natalie would like as much information as possible to make the exhibition one of the best the gallery has ever had.

Delia Finch is a regular reader who saw the article and was quick to put pen to paper. She wrote, "I have just read with a great deal of interest the article about Phoenix Glass. My mother-in-law Joan Finch, who lived in Station Road, Bilston, worked for the firm until it closed. She used to purchase a lot of their items of glassware, many of which I inherited and I have still got a gravy boat which is finished in white glass with a yellow flower motif.

"In the last few months I gave away my serving and casserole dishes and cups and saucers to a charity shop and now I wished I had held on to them. But I will never part with my gravy boat.

"On a subject a little off the beaten track, I wonder if any Bugle readers can help me as I search for information and photographs regarding the prefabs which were in Coseley.

"I lived in the prefabs and enjoyed them very much. My family lived at 14 George Road and my dad's name was Jim Mulryan. Then there was mom Gwen, my sister Maria and myself Delia.

"I buy the Bugle every week in the hope that a story about the prefabs might appear, so perhaps this appeal might stir a memory or two and with a bit of luck also provide a photograph."

If you can help Delia out in her quest for information about the Coseley prefabs please contact us at Bugle House.

Now it's back to Phoenix Glass and a comment from Joan Pearson of Featherstone: "My mother Lily Dixon worked at Phoenix from 1939 and throughout the war as secretary to the accountant and as well as working at Loxdale Street (not road as previously stated) she also had to travel to Lodge Road in Winson Green. She always referred to her employer as the British Heat Resisting Glass Co. Ltd. and not simply Phoenix".

Another letter comes from Joan Williams. She writes, "In response to the article about Phoenix Glass, my sister Eileen and myself were employed there in 1966 for about four years, working in the transfer department (also known as decorating dept). It was piecework but very well paid once you were up to speed. Our charge-hands were Lil Johnson and Dolly Gaunt.

"We had some great times there and made good friends, and I remember Jimmy Hill paid the factory a visit one day to publicise a new range called 'blue rose'.

"The late Beryl Nash(sister of Lord Bilston) was in charge of dispatch. One of the first items we worked on was called 'P&Gs', small dishes given away with washing powder manufactured by Proctor & Gamble. We must have produced several million of these because two shifts worked on them for many months. Each decorator had about 200 individual dishes to do every hour, and occasionally I see them at car boot sales and buy them for my sister to bring back fond memories of our time at Phoenix Glass.

"It was a very sad day when the company closed and in my opinion the reason for closure were the high prices.

"Employees had a 30% discount but still found items expensive. But overall they were great times at Phoenix."

Please share your memories of Phoenix Glass with us. Or if you would like to tell us about your place of work and share any pictures you may have, contact jworkman@blackcountrybugle.co.uk, call 01384 567678 or write to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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