Glass making has been carried out in Rotherham since 1751, when glass works were erected on land leased from the Earl of Effingham.
By 1783 the glassworks were leased by John Beatson, a businessman, who was looking for a business for his son William and son in law Robert Beatson to carry on. We are informed by John Guest that the flint glass produced at this time by the works was celebrated for its beauty. Robert Beatson, however, died seven years later age 40.
A further seven years later, in 1817, a new partnership was formed between William Beatson and William Close and was known as Beatson and Close. This partnership however lasted for only five years when William Close left the business. From 1822 until his death in 1825 the company was solely owned by William Beatson under the name William Beatson and Co.
After William’s death in 1825 the business was run by William’s widow, Martha, who was aided by her brother and father. The couple had four children, three daughters and a son, William Clement Beatson, who was 15 at the time of his father’s death, but who eventually took over the business.
In 1828 John Graves Clark, the son of William Clark a partner in the Don Pottery, joined the business after returning to Rotherham. He married Ann Beatson, one of William and Martha’s daughters and the firm was became know as Close and Clark.
William Close retired in 1840 and new partnership was formed between John Graves Clark and William Clement Beatson, the son of William and Martha Beatson. However in 1846 William Clement Beatson and John Graves Clark dissolved the partnership after a disagreement.
John Graves Clark moved back to Hull but his wife Ann, who was William Clement Beatson’s sister retained an interest in the business. During their marriage they had two sons Clement Beatson Clark and William White Clark.
Clement Beatson Clark joined the firm on his 16th birthday but in 1858 he emigrated to Canada with his brother Harry Close Clark.
Following the death of William Clement Beatson, legal problems arose concerning his will and Clement Beatson Clark returned to England. By 1865 the problems were resolved and in 1865 and new partnership between Clement Beatson Clark, William White Clark and Thomas Shenton was formed named Beatson and Co.
Whilst on a business trip to America Clement Beatson Clark met his first wife Caroline Hogaboom, who sadly died in childbirth. The following year he returned to her home town, Newmarket, Ontario, and met and married Alice Wrightman, who had been bridesmaid at his marriage to Caroline. They returned to Rotherham in 1871 and had 12 sons.
During the next decades the business expanded and Beatson Clark gained a reputation for fine pharmaceutical and cosmetic glassware. The chemist’s name or the name of the product would be moulded on the bottle, and domestic glassware was also produced ranging from baby’s feeding bottles to ceiling shades.
The company also exported and when, in the early 1800s graves of American Indians were discovered , bottles manufactured by Beatson Clark which had contained a potent medicine by the name of Turlington’s Balsam of Life were found in the graves
In 1901 Ernest Beatson Clark joined his father and uncle as third partner and a new 200 year lease was negotiated with the Earl of Effingham. The company became a limited company in 1910 and purchased the freehold in 1920, when Clement Beatson retired from the business. He was succeeded by three of his sons, Ernest Beatson Clark, H Noel Clark and Frederick Graves Clark.
The site of a former glass works in Stairfoot, Barnsley was purchased in 1929 and developed for machine production, though mouth blown production continued at Rotherham until 1954.
At the end of World War 2, Alec Wilson Clark, son of F G Clark, who had been trained as an engineer, became Managing Director. Over the next 20 years he led a significant development of machine production which increased output one hundredfold.
In 1971, he was succeeded by his son David Beatson Clark, who became Chairman in 1984 and was succeeded by his brother, John Frederick Beatson Clark.
The period of rapid expansion had been financed in part by the issue of shares to the public through the Stock Exchange, London. In 1988 the control of the business passed to TT Group PLC, though John F B Clark continued as Managing Director until his retirement in 1995.
( Information kindly supplied by David Beatson Clark )