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Author Topic: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead  (Read 796 times)

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Offline androcles

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William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« on: March 10, 2014, 04:17:27 PM »
My great grandfather William Stevens, a glass mould maker, went from Brmingham to Gateshead in 1859 with his family.  His brother James, also a glass mould maker went as well. Their father William was a die sinker and mould maker, who had lived in Camden Street, Birmingham, accompanied them.  William is the only Stevens who was a die sinker mentioned in records online from 1835 in Birmingham and who lived in Camden Street.  When William and James returned from Gateshead in about 1870 they became wine and spirit merchants!    All these details are well verified.

Raymond Notley, Raymond Slack, Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham (1880s) all write of a JAMES Stevens, a die sinker of Camden Street, who made the first slip out tumbler mould in about 1836, who's sons WIlliam and James, glass mould makers, went to Gateshead to work at Sowerby and Neville's glassworks.

I don't know if these are the same families.  I don't know if they were related. I don't know if a mistake was made historically muddling up James and William.  I'd be most grateful for any help . . . and it would be great to be able to talk to Raymond Slack if he's still around.

Offline KevinH

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 12:34:47 AM »
Welcome to the GMB, androcles.

Interesting points. I am sure some members will respond soon, although it can sometimes take a while.

KevinH

Offline David E

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2014, 05:05:14 PM »
Androcles, welcome to GMB.

I do have Raymond Slack's contact details and would also be interested to learn a little more of the Stevens family. Please mail me via the envelope icon on the left.
David
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Offline neilh

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2019, 08:16:27 PM »
I have been reading up on early pressed glass recently. The stories are settled in naming James Stevens as the key figure, producing moulds for Rice Harris and to some unnamed firms in the USA in the 1830s. His sons were James and William, who moved north to the Ellison glassworks, and then moved back and left the trade. James the elder is buried in Handsworth churchyard in Birmingham, maybe a look at his tombstone, if it is still around or recorded, will help clear things up.

Offline androcles

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2019, 05:24:56 PM »
Thanks, neilh.  I'm intrigued by your mention of James Stevens burial in Handsworth Churchyard . . . would that be St Mary or St James, Handsworth, and what dates are given?

I'm well aware that all the books mention James Stevens as the father of the brothers William and James who went up to Gateshead,  and that he was a die sinker of Camden Street.

William and James, and their wives, appear in Gateshead in the 1861 census, living in different houses and described as glass mould makers.  In 1871 they are back in Birmingham with their families and described as wine and spirit merchants.  Wives and their details all tally and there is no doubt.  In particular William Junior auctioned the contents of his house before leaving, but clearly didn't sell it as by 1882 was being used to sell wines and spirits.

The problem is that I can't find any other William and James Stevens in Gateshead at the appropriate time, regardless of their trade.

Nor can I find a James Stevens of Camden Street who was a die sinker. 

All the references are of William Stevens, die sinker of Camden Street.  There are references to him as a die sinker beginning in 1826 and to Camden Street in his insolvency in 1830.  He and William junior had a business in Great Tindal Street by 1851 manufacturing glass presses, glass moulds, glasshouse tools and glass-cutter's mills.

Curiously he and his wife went up to Gateshead with his sons and they were in the same house as William junior for the 1861 census.  I don't know exactly when he returned, though his name features in 1862 in the Corporation directory, resident in Booth Street, Handsworth.

He was buried in St Mary Handsworth churchyard in 1873, in the grave of his daughter Harriet and her husband William Sheldon.  Wm Sheldon was leaseholder of the Board Hotel on the corner of New Street and the Bull Ring and he died in 1868.  In the 1871 census William junior and brother James were back from Gateshead and clearly had taken over the lease.  I think it was only after William junior died in 1906 and the lease having passed to someone else that 'The Board' Public House and premises became known as 'Stevens Bar'.

I did speak to Raymond Slack in 2014 and explained my research.    He was quite happy with this and simply said that mistakes were often made with names!  This does make sense because all the references to James Stevens seem to come from one original source, though I'm not sure which this is.   Raymond Slack said that he'd disposed of his library and reference books, so couldn't look anything up.

The research goes on!


Offline neilh

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2019, 10:25:29 PM »
Here are the relevant bits:

This from the Pottery Gazette 1880: It would not be fair to omit the name of the first mould maker who made the tumbler mould in question; it was Mr James Stevens, then of Camden Street, Birmingham, and it is to him, and his sons, James and William, that the world is greatly indebted for the pressing of glass. The older Stevens has been dead some years, and the sons have left the trade. Previous to this mould being made for tumblers, Mr James Stevens made some pressed salt moulds to order for an American gentlemen visiting Birmingham. Mr Stevens was by trade a die-sinker.

and another article: James Stevens, of Bull's Head Court, Pope Street, Birmingham, who made the first slip-out tumbler

and another: James Stevens was assisted by his two sons, both of whom for many years managed the mould department for the present Ellison Glass Works at Gateshead. The elder Stevens is buried in Handsworth Churchyard, near Birmingham. There is a stone over the remains in loving memory by those who mourned him.

Offline MHT

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2019, 04:52:18 PM »
If this helps, there are various Stevens, James & Williams, listed here in 1858 on page 283:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=s6lgAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
Iknield Street West is very near Camden Street
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Offline neilh

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2019, 06:34:10 PM »
I've also got a newspaper snippet here from the Birmingham Gazette 1851 which reads:

To the Glass Trade
William Stevens and Son
Great Tindal Street, Ladywood, Birmingham
Manufacturers of glass pressed, glass moulds, glass house tools, and glass cutters mills
... have effected some important improvements in the manufacture of glass cutters mills

Offline androcles

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Re: William Stevens, glass mould maker in Gateshead
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2019, 08:26:11 PM »
Yes, that was a quite frequent advert from William and William junior, and the business vanished at the time when William junior and James went up to Gateshead.  Wm Stevens and Son took out a patent in 1854:    1854/665   Lens grinding machinery with both rotary and vibratory movements.  I think this may be the patent that relates to grinding toric lenses.

Father and son, William senior and James both lived in Icknield Street West in 1858, in different houses.  James was there at the time his first wife died.

Certainly William senior is buried in St Mary Handsworth churchyard, but I can't find a James Stevens buried in either Handsworth churchyard.

I still can't find any James Stevens who was a Die Sinker in Birmingham.  William Stevens senior has over 30 references in various trade directories, many of which are in the listings for Die Sinkers, but no James.  In the report of his insolvency there is:  "17 July 1830,  William Stevens, heretofore of Bishop-gate, then of George St, and late (meaning most recently) of Camden St, Dye Sinker."
These are places of residence, but it seems his workshop was at 2 Edmund Street or later at 6 Oozell Street, before settling at 140 Great Tindal Street.

Incidentally, while William junior and James were working at Ellison's, they improved the mould design to incorporate handles, rather than having them added afterwards.

 

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