Sunday 22 November 2009

Johnsen & Jorgensen question

I came across your web site whilst browsing this evening and wondered if you or any of your members may be able to help me...

My late grandfather, Harry, worked for a company called Johnsen and Jorgensen for many years. They manufactured medical and laboratory glass. I believe their main factory was in the Charlton/Woolwich area. During the war a temporary factory was set up in Hildenborough, Kent (Oakfield Works) due to the bombing and he moved there with the company. The business later transferred to South Wales (Cardiff area) and he again moved with the company.

I would like to find out more information about the factory in Charlton/Woolwich, where it was located, and if there is anything left to see today. If anyone knows anything about the set up in Hildenborough that would be a bonus.

A bit of a long shot I suppose but you never know.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

By the way, you may be interested to know that I write a blog called Kent Today and Yesterday. I have just written a post which includes pictures of the now derelict W T Henley/AEI Cables site in Northfleet which is currently being demolished.

Best regards,
Glen Humble


Mary said...

There are a couple of pages about this firm in John Smith's History of Charlton, Vol. III. He says the Charlton factory dated from 1920 and that Wilhelm M.Johnsen and Johan Jorgensen were Norwegian immigrants who came to London as agents for cod liver oil, and polar bears. The eventually imported condensed milk from Norway. They were involved in a glass works at Gottenberg and imported glass. They began glass production in Farringdon Street and then built a factory in the east side of Anchor and Hope Lane, with rail access, designed by Charles Dunch with R.Swager. This was a big works and included a large jetty onto which bottles were imported. The factory made glass phials and hydrometer tubes and this was eventually automated. In 1932 the began to make glass tableware. During the Second World War they stopped importing glass but also moved production to Hildenborough and Cardiff. The onset of the National Health Service led to a boom in bottle making - and they worked as part of an arrangment with adjacent United Glass and the offices were moved to Charlton. In1964 a major fire destroyed much of the premises but new factory was opened in 1966 and by 1970 over 500 workers made them the biggest producers of ampoules and vials in Europe. They moved into plastic mouldings and opened a works in Deptford. From 1970 following company mergers and despite increasing business they began to cut back. Workers were sacked and production moved to Bristol. By 1979 there were only 100 staff left and the 1920s buildings were demolished. In 1981 the factory closed.

Kent Today and Yesterday said...

Dear Mary - many thanks indeed for your very helpful and comprehensive reply. It is much appreciated.

Best regards,