History Of Glasswells


Jerry Glasswell began his new venture in 1946 at 34 Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds. A grocer by trade, Jerry had been through the International Stores Training system, working in Stowmarket & Ilford. Jerry made it to the heights of manager before a policy dispute led to the premature closure of his grocery chapter. Various other jobs, such as window cleaner and auctioneer's porter, came and went before Jerry launched the family furnishing business.

In 1946, furniture was a scarce commodity, and much of the stock was second hand, obtained from auctions. The business boomed to such an extent that the second hand goods were insufficient to meet demand, and the company moved into the supply of utility furniture. 

Leslie Glasswell joined is father shortly after the opening of the first shop, and it proved to be a successful partnership of 30 years. Glasswells has always been very much a family business, with Jerry & his wife Ethel, Leslie, Peggy (Jerry's daughter) & her husband Tim, together with Jerry's brother Frank. Since those early days, the Glasswells have continued to re-invest in their business, enabling it to grow steadily. 



 The Glasswells History Timeline   

1946 First Shop opened at 35 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds.

1947 Second shop opened at 36 Brentgovel Street.

1948 First furniture van built.

1949 First furniture exhibition at Haverhill and Bury trade fairs.

1950 First furniture exhibition at the Old Town hall, Bury St Edmunds.

1951 Opened first shop at Haverhill. Exhibition in marquee at the Suffolk Show Rougham. First exhibition in Bury St Edmunds' Corn Exchange.

1952 Exhibitions at Saffron Walden and Bury St Edmunds' Corn Exchange.

1953 Saffron Walden branch opened in King Street.

1954 Built and opened St Andrew's Street South shop.

1955 Building started on Tollgate warehouse, Bury St Edmunds.

1956 Completed first 10,000 sq ft of Tollgate warehouse.

1957 Corn Exchange showroom opened in Bury St Edmunds.

1959 Tollgate warehouse extended to 15,000 sq ft.

1960 New store opened at Queen's Square, Haverhill.

1961 Number of removals vans reaches seven, including three at Stowmarket.

1962 Glasswells opens store in Stowmarket.

1963 Glasswells' staff totals 84.

1964 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds premises refurbished and opened at Bury Bedding Centre. Added mezzanine floor to Corn Exchange shop. Additional shop opened at Haverhill.

1965 Carpet shop opened in Queen's Square, Haverhill.

1966 Tollgate warehouse extended to 20,000 sq ft.

1967 Started work on new £68,000 store extension in St Andrew's Street South, Bury St Edmunds.

1968 St Andrew's Street South, Bury St Edmunds shop extended and opened.

1970 Extended Tollgate warehouse to 30,000 sq ft.

1971 First Kingsbury warehouse opened in Bury St Edmunds.

1972 Kingsbury warehouse has grown to three branches.

1973 Kingsbury has four branches.

1974 Kingsbury has five branches.

1975 Kingsbury warehouse now total seven branches. Glasswells buy St Andrew's and Brentgoval Street properties.

1976 Kingsbury warehouse sold to Combined English Stores.

1977 Major development at Haverhill with new Glasswells store and seven other shops.

1978 New Haverhill branch opened.

1979 Acquired Alstons of Sudbury.

1981 Taskers bought at Norwich.

1982 Glasswells joins Associated Independent Stores Group.

1983 Acquired Slaters at Braintree.

1983 Work starts on new store at Norwich.

1984 New 11,000 sq ft store opened in Norwich, with two other shops to let.

1985 Complete re-building of Brentgovel Street premises at a cost of £400,000. Opened in September, with three other shops to let. Opened Union Jacks Discount Warehouse, Bury St Edmunds.

1986 Leslie Glasswell elected to the board of Associated Independent Stores.

1987 Terry Glasswell becomes Finance Director.

1989 Leslie Glasswell retires as Managing Director Paul Glasswell becomes Managing Director with Leslie as Chairman. New carpet shop opens at Saffron.

1989 Refurbishment schemes at Saffron Walden, Haverhill and Braintree.

1992 Four and a half acre flat site acquired in Newmarket Road in Bury St Edmunds, where the World of Furniture store was opened the same year.

1994 The world of Furniture extended to a total of 60,000 sq ft.

1995 Opening of the World of Furniture at Martlesham Heath, Ipswich.

1996 50th anniversary of Glasswells.

1999 New warehouse at Moreton Hall, Bury St Edmunds opens.

2002 Extension to the World of Furniture adds 40,000 sq ft. All departments expanded to increase ranges. New extension to warehouse doubles floor space. Robert Hawkins appointed as Sales Director.

2003 The interior of the Bury store is refurbished including the offices, and the restaurant is extended.

2005 Refurbishment of Haverhill store.

2006 Diamond anniversary celebrations by giving away a diamond ring and a 1940's revival weekend. For the staff, there was a evening meal with music and comedy from Jasper Carrott.

2008 New Ipswich store opened Extension to Kempson Way warehouse completed. Robert Hawkins becomes Operations Director. Kevin Robertson appointed to Sales Director.

2011 65th anniversary.

2012 Glasswells stepped into the digital age when we launched our e-commerce website allowing us to take online orders and be able to reach our customers nationally.

2013 Glasswells of Ipswich scoops department of the Year Award, Staff and Store Manager Andrea Johnston celebrate and look to continue on strongly.

2014 We invested in nearly one thousand solar panels which have been installed on the south facing slopes of the roof on our Newmarket Road store. The panels cover over 20,000 square feet and are part of our wider initiative to go 'green'.
2016 Our Bury St Edmunds restaurant was extended to accommodate an extra 30 seats cutting down on queue times & we gave the entire restaurant a revamp as well.