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British Industrial History

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Kilner Brothers

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of Kilner’s Providence Glassworks in Conisbrough

of Blundell Street, Caledonian Road, London, N7. (1922)

1842 John Kilner founded the John Kilner and Co glass company that produced glass jars.

The Kilner family had established several glassworks across the north of England during the nineteenth century.

1851 Employing 114 men.[1]

1860 Patent. '2079. And Caleb Kilner, George Kilner, William Kilner, and John Kilner, all of the Providence Glass Bottle Works, Thornhill Lees, near Dewsbury, in the county of York, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of glass bottles, and the apparatus connected therewith."'[2]

1863 Opened a glass bottle factory at Denaby Main. The site that was accessed via a bridge still known locally as Kilner Bridge. Kilner products, which included glass storage the Kilner jars were known internationally.

1866 Partnership change. '... the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Caleb Kilner and George Kilner, both of Thornhill, Lees, near Dewsbury, in the county of York, Glass Bottle Manufacturers, and William Kilner, of No. 2, Grove-cottages, Albion-grove, Islington, in the county of Middlesex, Glass Bottle Manufacturer, and carrying on business at Thornhill, Leeds aforesaid, and at Conisborough, in the said county of York, and at Brooks' Wharf, Upper Thames-street, in the said county of Middlesex, as Glass Bottle Manufacturers and Merchants, under the style or firm of Kilner, Brothers, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent, so far as regards the said Caleb Kilner. All debts due and owing to or from the said partnership will be received and paid by the said George Kilner and William Kilner, who will in future carry on the said trade or business in partnership under the same style or firm of Kilner, Brothers...'[3]

By 1871 they employed 123 men.

1894 they employed as many as 400 hands (men, women and boys), and were making up to 300,000 bottles of all types per week.

1895 Partnership change. '...the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned George Kilner, Caleb Kilner, Tom Kilner, George William Kilner, George Knowles. James Richard Kilner, and Frederick Kilner as Glass Bottle Manufacturers and Merchants "and carried on at Thornhill Lees near Dewsbury and at Conisbrough all in the county of York and also at King's Cross London in the county of Middlesex under the style or firm of Kilner Brothers has been dissolved by mutual consent so far as regards the said Tom Kilner as and from the day of the date hereof. All debts due to and owing by the said firm will be received and paid by the said George Kilner, Caleb Kilner, George William Kilner, George Knowles, James Richard Kilner, and Frederick Kilner who will in future carry on the said business under the said style or firm of Kilner Brothers...'[4]

Kilner Glassworks was a completely self contained manufactory, taking in raw materials and producing finished jars and bottles ready for use.

Although enjoying commercial success, rival glass manufacturers were quick to create alternatives - and the Kilner family business (by then called Kilner Brothers) went bankrupt in 1937.

The patents and trademarks of the Kilner Jar were sold to United Glass Bottle Manufacturers in the same year, where more modern Kilner jars are still being produced today.

The various names of the Kilner companies were:

  • John Kilner and Co, Castleford, Yorkshire, 1842-44
  • John Kilner and Sons, Wakefield, Yorkshire, 1847-57
  • Kilner Brothers Glass Co, Thornhill Lees, Yorkshire, 1857-73 also at Conisbrough, Yorkshire, 1863-1873
  • Kilner Brothers Ltd, Thornhill Lees, Yorkshire 1873-1920 also at Conisbrough, Yorkshire, 1873-1937.

1922 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Glass Bottles and Jars for all purposes, sole makers of the "Kilner" Jars for Preserving Fruits and Vegetables. (Stand No. G.50)

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