Dartington Crystal had some very special visitors last week, to mark its 50th birthday. The Torrington factory welcomed back some of the original Swedish glassblowers who came to the town in 1967. Torrington had welcomed 17 Swedish glassblowers that year, to help establish a new manufacturing initiative. The men joined the social enterprise, designed to regenerate the area with jobs and craft skills, and helped launch what we now know today as Dartington Crystal.
Last week, members of the original glassblowers were reunited with the next generation of glass craftsmen on the factory floor, where they reminisced over glass and their time at the factory.
Willie Kleasson, one of the visiting glassblowers, said: “Joining Dartington was a great adventure from the start. Leaving my home country in 1967, working in a foreign country, learning a new language, meeting my English wife and of course being part of an exciting new business. I hold Dartington in great affection and I’m so pleased to raise a glass to this magnificent achievement.”
Dartington Crystal’s longest serving English glassblower, Brian Cooke, said: “I’ve been with Dartington since the early years and have witnessed so many special milestones and worked alongside some great people, English and Swedish alike. It’s great to be reunited with some of the original team and to reminisce about the old days. They haven’t changed a bit.”
Now 50 years on, Dartington Crystal is the only remaining large scale producer of crystal and glass in the UK, and remains an important regional employer with 150 staff.