James & Carol (nee Nolan) Ackroyd

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MR CALEB KILNER

DEATH OF CONISBROUGH GLASS BOTTLE CHIEF

A Rugged Captain of Industry

An Inspiring Career

Mr. Caleb Kilner

Mr. Caleb Kilner JP of Ivanhoe Lodge Conisbrough, died very suddenly on Sunday morning (9th March 1920). He had been in indifferent health for a month, but was sufficiently well to travel to Doncaster on Saturday with his son Mr. George Kilner. On Sunday morning about five o’clock, he had a heart seizure, and died within half an hour.

Mr. Kilner was in is seventy seventh year and was the head of the well known glass bottle firm of Kilner Brothers (Limited). For over half a century he had been a commanding figure in the Yorkshire Glass Bottle trade, and in the public and religious life of the Conisbrough district. He was a man of the highest probity, and combined business genius, with strictest commercial rectitude. His was a rugged, but attractive personality, he was a homely soul and his relations with his workpeople had the old fashioned freedom of mid Victorian values. He conceived the Whitely spirit fifty years before Whitelyism was heard of. Nowhere in the district is there a happier industrial establishment than the flourishing glass bottle works at Conisbrough. Mr. Kilner will be remembered for many desirable qualities, but he will be remembered particularly as an industrial pioneer, who made a great deal of money honestly, pleasantly and wholesomely. His life is an example of the success which waits upon industry, perseverance, patience, and intelligence.

 Conisbrough Glassworks 1894

He was born in Castleford in 1843, the son of George and Charlotte Kilner, and the Grandson of John Kilner of Thornhill Lees Dewsbury, the founder of the firm of Kilner Brothers. He was educated at Thornhill Grammar School and entered his grandfather’s factory at a very early age. His first job, for which he was paid two shillings a week, was to prepare clay rolls for the crucible makers. He learned as a workman every process of bottle manufacture, and reached the bottle makers ‘chair’ before he was 18 years of age. His practical education completed, he was given charge of a small department of the Thornhill works and ‘making’ good there he was sent with his cousin, the late Kilner Bateson, to open a branch at Conisbrough, the Don Valley district having just been discovered by the glass bottle trade. That was in 1866. The Conisbrough branch was started with two small ‘Pot’ Shops, each of eight holes and employed 70 people in all. Today there are six shops with 64 holes, employing about 500 people, many of whom either families are housed by the firm. The Conisbrough branch flourished from the onset, but it involved tremendously hard work. Many small employers in those days worked side by side with there men, encouraging them by there example. Mr. Kilner’s oldest employee, Henry Senior who came with him from Thornhill Lees, said on a recent occasion that he had seen Mr. Kilner in those early days, working up to his waste in water.

The business prospered, both at Conisbrough and Thornhill, but notably at Conisbrough, where it was under the direct influence of Mr. Caleb Kilner, who was in closest touch with every movement of the trade, and was constantly revising methods of manufacture and bringing them up to date. He was enterprising in instinct, was very amenable to suggestion and advice, was very approachable, had many sound commercial ideas of his own,

Thornhill St Michael’s

and would reject no proposition on the ground of expense alone. He was very solicitous for his workpeople, proud of the excellent output they maintained, and always based his relations with them, which were rather those of a college than of a master, on the principle of a fair days work. He was deservedly popular with his workpeople, and the leisure of his deckling days found him busy with plans for a comfortable recreation club for them.

He was of the leading employers in the Yorkshire section of the industry and was for several years president and afterwards vice president of the Yorkshire Glass Bottle manufactures association. He also served on the committee of the National Glass Bottle Manufactures association. Outside the three establishments of Kilner Brothers, he had a number of commercial interests, including shipping. He was from 1908 until his death, chairman of the Conisbrough Gas Company. In 1916 the workpeople of Conisbrough celebrated the Jubilee of the Conisbrough establishment by presenting to him through his oldest workman Mr. Henry Senior (referred to above) a handsome silver salver.

Outside business Mr. Kilner had two strong enthusiasms, one was Wesleyan Methodism, and the other was local government.

He served the public of Conisbrough for many years as way warden on the old highway board and later (in 1903), as a member of Doncaster Rural District Council in conjunction with Mr. Frank Ogly. And in succession to the late Mr. Holmes. He was a member and sometime chairman of the Conisbrough Burial Board and helped to plan the cemetery in which he was laid to rest this week.

He was a member for 18 years of the Conisbrough School Board, and for the last three years was chairman. His first public appointment was that of overseer.

He took a great deal of interest in this work, and held the office with great benefit to Conisbrough, for a number of years.

The increasing claims of business caused him gradually to relinquish his public duties some 15 years ago, but his services to the district were very suitably recognised in 1906 by his appointment to the commission of the Peace for the West Riding. He sat at Doncaster. And was very diligent and conscientious in the discharge of his magisterial functions.

By no one will his death be more keenly felt than by the Wesleyan Methodists of Conisbrough and generally of the Doncaster (Oxford Road) Circuit.

He was a devoted Wesleyan and supported the body with the uttermost liberality and enthusiasm. He was particularly helpful when the handsome

Wesleyan Church at Conisbrough was erected at a cost of £4,000.

He did not; moreover confine his generosity to Methodist causes. He was a good friend of other denominations, and also of undenominational movements of a charitable and uplifting character.

His private benefactions were very considerable. There was in all he did a quiet undertone of piety and humility. He was sterling Christian.

Conisbrough St Peter

Mr. Kilner was twice married, first to a Miss Sarah Kitson of Thornhill Lees, and then to Miss Bates, a daughter of Alderman John Bates of Dewsbury.

His second wife died in 1911. Mr. Kilner is survived by a son Mr. George Kilner, who was associated with him in the direction of the firm, and two married daughters.

MAGISTERIAL REFERENCE

On Tuesday at the Doncaster West Riding Police Court, the chairman Mr. J. Dymond referred to the loss the Bench and the local community had sustained by the death of Mr. Caleb Kilner a valued and esteemed member of that Bench. Later the magistrates passed a resolution of sympathy with the family.

Mr. Kilner had been a trustee of the Conisbrough Wesleyan Church for twenty years and the Rev H. Middlewood paid an eloquent tribute to his memory at each of the services.

THE FUNERAL

The funeral took place at the Conisbrough cemetery on Wednesday, amid many manifestations of sorrow. As a mark of respect from the townspeople nearly all the blinds were drawn along the route from the Lodge to the burial ground, while hundreds of people assembled to pay a last tribute at the graveside. Preceding the committal ceremony a short service was held at the Wesleyan Methodist Church conducted by the Rev N J Willis (of Goole and formally resident minister at Conisbrough), assisted by the Rev H. Middlewood, the Rev F. M Halstead (Superintendent of the Doncaster Oxford place Circuit) and the Rev H. C Dailimoore. Mr. J. Johnson presided at the organ and the hymn "When the weary seeking rest" and I bring my sins to them" (the latter of which was a great favourite of the late Mr. Kilner) were sung. The remains, enclosed in a plain oak coffin, were born into the church by Mesers T. Brooke, J. Gentle, W. Kelly, J. Casey, W. Lindley (my Grandfather *), J. Hirst, T. Senior and W. Hulley all employees at the glass works. The sanctuary was filled to overflowing and a large number of people unable to gain admittance waited outside in reverent attendance. Mr. Willis paid a high tribute to the late Mr. Kilner, whose life he said had been one based on noble and beautiful ideas.

The cortège was headed by the deceased‘s workpeople, about 400 in number, who lined the entrance to the cemetery, which the body of there beloved employer was carried to the last resting place.

The family mourners were: Mr. and Mrs. G. Kilner (son and daughter in law), Mr. And Mrs. H. Smethhurst (daughter and son in law), Miss G and master H. K Smethhurst (grandchildren), Mrs. J. H. Watkinson, Cleethorpes, (daughter), Mrs. Drumond (granddaughter), Mr. and Mrs. G. Knowles, Thornhill lees (sister and brother in law), Mr. and Mrs. K. Goldsbrough, Thornhill Lees, (sister and brother in law), Mesers R and A. Goldsbrough (nephews), Mr. T. Kilner, Thornhill Lees (brother), Mr. F. Kilner, London, (cousin), Mr. H. B. Kilner (London), Mr. and Mrs. S. Kilner (Doncaster), Mr. F. Knowles, Thornhill Lees (nephew), Mr. and Mrs. Fitton, Dewsbury, (niece), Mrs. A. Fenton Bridlington, (sister in law), Mr. and Mrs. N. Bennet, Blackstone (sister in law) Mr. George Bateson and Mr. A. Bateson.

Among those present at the Chapel and graveside were: Mr. J. Alexander (National Glass Bottle Association), Mr. G. B. Bagler, (Yorkshire Flint Bottle Association), Mr. H. Dyer, ( Secretary to the Flint Bottle Association) Mesers H. H. and W, J. Asquith, (representing Mesers, Reefers Barnsley), Mr. C.C. White, (for Mesers Waddington, Mexbrough), Mr. Alex Baron, junior, (for Mesers Baron, Mexbrough), Mr. Baron Kilner (Baron Kilner and Sons, Wakefield), Mr. Brown (for Mesers Dale Brown, Swinton), Mr. F. Sweeting (managing Director of Castleford Glassworks), Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Gordon (engineer in charge of extensions), Mr. H. W. Smith, ( Denaby Colliery), Mr. H. Hulley, (Cadeby Colliery), Mr. F. Ogly, C. C, Mr. P. White (representing Captain F. J. O. Montagu, Ald P. Bancroft Coward ( Rotherham), Supt Minty, (West Riding Constabulary), Mesers Hinchcliffe and Pettifer, (West Riding Justices), Mr. C. Reasbook, (Commercial Manager at Thornhill Lees), Mesers R. Crawshaw, G. Nicholson,, C.A. Ream, H. A. Wilkinson and G. Roberts (representing Conisbrough Gas Company), Mesers S. C Urch, W. Appleyard, W. H. Jones. Hartley and Haggar, (representing Conisbrough Council), Mrs. A. Baron, Mesers J. W. and A. E Hattersley (Queens Foundry Swinton- My father worked there, G. W. Lindley), Mr. G. Appleyard, senior, Mr. W. A. Twelves, Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson, Mr. H. Russell, (Bawtry), Mr. J. Brocklesby, J. P, Mr. A. Smalley (representing Smalley and Harrop, Mexbrough), Mesers G and H. Brocklesby, Mr. W.W. Norwood, Mr. Scrimshaw, Mr. T. R. Booth, Mr. H. E. Nicholson, Mr. M. Nicholson, Mr. Milner (Clifton), Mr. W.R. Bell, Mr. G. W. Rollings, Mr. W. Ellis, Dr and Mrs. J. Maclure, Mesers E and R. T. Wilson, Mr. R. Clarkson, Mr. H. Saville, Mesers R and R. J. Troughton, Mr. J. Turnbull, Mesers R. and G. Ward, the Misses Clarkson and Mr. R. Fenton, (Castleford Assistant Secretary To Glass Bottle Trade Protection Society).

Mr. W. H. Chambers was unable to be present due to illness (managing director of Denaby and Cadeby Colliers Ltd).

The floral tributes included, tokens from Mr. and Mrs. G. Kilner and Mrs. M. L. Smethurst, ‘Pollie’ ( Mrs. Watkinson), Mr. F. Bateson, ‘Sylvia and Fred’ (granddaughter and grandson), Mr. and Mrs. G. Bateson, Miss Audrey Kilner, Mrs. G. W. Kilner, and daughter, Mr. T. Kilner and family, Katherine and Charlie, (granddaughter and grandson), Dollie and Edna (grandchildren), the Yorkshire Flint glass Bottle Manufactures Association, Engineers Department of Kilner Brothers, members of the Glass Bottlemakers Sick and Dividing Club, members of the Glass Bottlemakers Trade Protection Society, (Conisbrough), members and friends of the Wesleyan Chapel (Conisbrough), Mr. C. Reasbeck, Mr. and Mrs. F. Ogly, staff of the London office, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, and family, Mr. and Mrs. Laycock, and family, Mrs. Gledhill, Mr. R. Rich, Mr. W. Bagley, (Knottingley), Mesers J. W. and A. E Hattersley, Mr. R. Troughton, Mr. and Mrs. A. Baron, (Mexbrough), Mrs. Nicholson and Mr. Morton Nicholson, Ald. Smith (Doncaster), Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Nicholson, Mesers R. H. R.J. and H. H. Sharpe, Mrs. H. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Norwood, Mr. W. A. Gordon, (Doncaster), Mr. S. Whitefield, Mr. R.J. Clarkson and Mr. and Mrs. Brocklesby and family.

Courtesy of *John Lindley 2004

Note: Although there is no relationship with the Kilner family this article as been put on the site as many Ackroyd's and Lindley's, and other family names worked at the Kilner Glassworks . It is therefore a part of the family history of our ancestors.

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