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Along with any suggestions on how we improve this website; photo's and information about Ronald Stennett Willson are very welcome.


Fruit bowl

Fruit bowl


Ronald Stennett-Willson was born in Padsgate near Warrington, Cheshire in 1915, he wanted to be a journalist, but in 1935 started working for the wholesale import company; Rybeck and Norstrom and he grew to love Swedish Glass.

He had served in WW2 as a Captain in the Royal Tank Regiment, after which he joined Rybeck & Norstrom once again. In 1951 he worked at J.Wuidart & Co, a Scandinavian Importer as a Sales Director and later as joint Managing Director, whilst there he induced British retailers to Orrefors, Kosta (later Kosta Boda) and Rorstrand (ceramics), setting up Trade Fairs in London at Wuidart’s showroom, and this creattroed conciderable interest in the trade press.

Because of this talent he was asked to write about glass and wrote several articles for the trade magazine Pottery and Glass; “Design Begins with the Material” an account of contemporary glassware in November 1954, “Three aspects of Display” in may 1955 and “The Responsibility of the Retailer” in January 1956, these were all very practical articles.

Sandringham 5

Sapphire Sheringham 3-tier + Sandringham 25cm


The Beauty of Modern Glass

This led to the writing of his first book The Beauty of Modern Glass in 1958, with many excellent photographs of International glass design, selected from the Decorative Art Studio Yearbooks from the previous 10 years, bringing attention to glass from Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Holland, and how designers were collaborating with the makers, greatly influencing studio production.


During the 1950s he started designing glass himself, in a Scandinavian style, with smooth clean lines, made in various glassworks (Bjorkshults, Ekenas, Strombergshyttan & Johansfors), selling them through Wuidart. These were mainly simple forms: vases, pitchers and jugs, tankards, cruets and goblets (whorl), also vessels with indented sides.

Lemington Glassworks

R S-W collaborated in the UK with the Lemington Glassworks,which was then run by the General Electric Company (GEC),and Osram, using existing production methods. He designed various functional, thick bottomed Tumbler and Sherry glasses in 1959, in clear and harlequin sets, made at the Lemington Glassworks, he also produced vases, bowls and lidded jars, the complete range was very popular within the design press and he won the Design Award for his ‘Canberra’ vases, which were originally designed for P&O as vases for cabins, RSW designed all the glassware onboard.

He also designed for British Rail and Gilbey’s ( a range of glasses and carafes, well known as the Gilbey Glasses),also for the Carlton Tower Hotel in London, the ‘Tower Service’ which was made by Nazing in Hertfordshire and then later by King’s Lynn Glassworks.


In 1960 he set up a shop in Hampstead called Choses (French for ‘All Things’), selling UK and Scandinavian modern ceramics, glass, furniture and kitchens, and in 1961, whilst still working part-time for Wuidart, he was appointed Reader in the Department of Industrial Glass at the Royal College of Art and went on to teach there for a further 5 years, within 3 years he had improved practical facilities with a new workshop block with furnaces and started teaching glassmaking and design.

He found it very difficult persuading British manufacturers to make modern glass and left the RCA, setting up his own factory-King’s Lynn Glass in Norfolk in 1967, producing high quality modern tableware and ornamental glass, all handmade.

There were 4 furnaces, employing some 35 people, including 15 skilled workers from Sweden to train local apprentices, also some Austrian glass-blowers who were highly experienced in blowing very thin stems (the ‘Sandringham’ range). After 2 years King’s Lynn Glass were employing over 50 people, later as many as 100 workers.

At first the ‘Sheringham’ grabbed much attention, it was made in various sizes and colours, each handmade, piece by piece,and this design won the Queens Award for Industry, also the Angular vases, which were originally made at the Lemington Glassworks, were made in various colours including a vivid orange.

King’s Lynn

King’s Lynn Glassworks success led to being bought out by Wedgwood Glass, becoming a subsidiary and completely owned by Wedgwood in 1969, at first keeping its original name but later becoming Wedgwood Glass. RSW stayed on as Managing Director and Chief Designer until the 1970s,finally retiring in 1979. Wedgwood Glass closed in 1988. He then started a new business with Paul Miller establishing Langham Glass in Norfolk which is still running today, RSW designed stemware, goblets, paperweights and tankards, staying until 1987.

RSW greatly influenced Caithness Glass, and Dartington Glass, Frank Thrower had worked with him whilst at Wuidart, both companies were very much design led.



Date: 05-11-2008

At the moment we are busy adding text. Hopefully we will be almost complete before the end of the month.


Angular vase