Vintage 1960 & 70s Dartington Glass is collected by many people for it's minimalist designs and wonderful quality. The company was set up in 1967, in Torrington, North Devon. People adore the glass platters, vases and ornaments created by skilled glass blowers and award winning designers such as Frank Thrower, who was the company's key influence.


above a Daisy Platter by Frank Thrower

Why is Dartington Glass called this when it is based in Torrington? 

In the 1920s, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst bought and renovated Dartington Hall, which is located just outside Totnes in South Devon. They set up the Dartington Hall Trust to help regenerate the rural economy and instigated many innovative and forward-thinking ideas to help boost production in farming and to also promote arts & crafts as a way of creating jobs in rural areas.

In the 1960's, they decided to set up the Dartington Glass making factory in the North of Devon to help create new jobs in that area. The idea was to help people find employment in their own local community rather than having to leave for the cities.  



You can see the influence of Scandinavian Glass makers in this wonderful Dartington Glass Owl Dish designed by Frank Thrower

Dartington Glass has strong links to Swedish Glass Manufacturing

The Elmshirsts were already looking to Scandinavia for ideas in farming innovations, and it was here they looked to recruit a Managing Director for Dartington Glass. After consulting with Euan Cooper-Willis, the founder of Portmeirion Pottery and Frank Thrower a glass designer working for a company in Sweden, they took on Eskil Vilhemson from a Swedish glass company who brought over a team of Scandinavian glass blowers to help train the people of Devon. The factory opened in 1967 and initially employed around 35 people.



Above... the Lotus Platter, these look absolutely wonderful on a table or standing upright in front of a light source

Over the next few years, Scandinavian glass blowing skills were passed on to the local English craftsmen, who worked to Scandinavian designs.  Frank Thrower's designs soon became a key focus for the Dartington Glass collection. His ideas were minimal, fresh and exciting - so different from anything seen in the British glass making industry at the time.
 



Above...a Dartington Daisy platter in original box

Initially these ground breaking designs were hard to sell to the British public, however in 1971 the company and Dartington Trustees decided to host a dynamic advertising campaign and rebranding exercise, and Dartington Glass became a revered household name.



Above... Etruscan Ripple Vase with flared top

Frank Thrower remained as chief designer at Dartington Glass until he sadly passed away at a young age in 1987. His influence on the company was quite simply huge.



Above... Dartington Glass Heart shaped paperweight

In 1969 Frank received the Observer Award for Design, 1972 saw the Duke of Edinburgh’s Design Prize in 1972 and in 1985 his ‘Sharon’ champagne flute was included in a V & A exhibition called ‘100 Best Ever Products’. Frank was awarded an MBE in 1987 just before he died, and had also opened the new Glass Centre in Torrington to mark the 20th anniversary of Dartington Glass.



Ripple Flare Vase from the 1970s

In 1986 the company changed it's name to Dartington Crystal and by 1993 The Dartington Hall Trust had sold it's remaining shares in the business.



Above...Dartington Glass Posy Vase

Information on this page will be updated as and when we learn more, and is based upon our current knowledge.


Dartington Glass in the yay retro! shop

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