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Inspector’s # 562 (before ’06)
(Enamelled by Durobor Belgium)

Inspector’s # FG0846 (from ’06 onwards)
 Laser  Stamped

Bury Metropolitan Borough

How to verify that a beer glass contains a fair pint – simple: all you have to do is to pour a pint of water into a glass and if it comes up to or near the brim it passes, is sand blasted with the inspector’s number and then it’s legal for use in pubs, clubs and hotels. But, just think about the billions of beer glasses that have been verified like this and stacked on shelves in bars in the last hundred years and that until 1988 every single glass had to be tested before it could be used!

On a visit to the Weights and Measures at the bottom of the Gloucester Rd in Bristol in 1978 I was shown the machine used to verify beer glasses. It was a garden gazebo shaped affair: a square, metal platform with a container above, supported by columns at the corners with a rubber tube descending to the platform. A glass would be placed on the platform and a measured pint/half pint of water at 20 C was released into the glass through the tube. The water would then be poured back into the container ready for the next glass.  

Much more recently I spoke to the Weights and Measures inspectors in St Helens and Bury and to Malcolm Price who was a quality control manager at Ravenhead in St Helens, the major supplier of beer glasses in the 20th Century. He told me that until 1988 the factory had the almost permanent presence of an inspector sitting in a cubicle behind a glass screen watching the machine on the assembly line while it filled twenty glasses at a time. Batch testing was introduced in 1989 so 150 glasses were tested from a production batch of 150,000. Glasses were also taken round to the Trading Standards where testing took place on a smaller scale.

In 1996 Ravenhead changed to Bury Trading Standards for verification and so 478 was no longer (see Stamp Collecting). Forty foot trailers travelled the twenty five miles from St. Helens to Bury loaded with thousands of beer glasses. The contract was to verify 100 for every 35,000 produced. Forty five people worked non-stop using machines capable of processing eight glasses at the same time. I spoke to one of the main inspectors at Bury who told me that during the 90’s they were verifying glasses from Dema and Ravenhead and must have processed around 500,000,000


In 1999 it became possible for manufacturers to self verify under the supervision of a weights and measures inspector. The Ravenhead Co chose this route and was allocated the number 2037 by National Weights and Measures. The newly introduced laser stamping was managed from St. Helens Trading Standards).The two largest producers Dema and Ravenhead went out of business in 2001(see Stamp Collecting) and the landscape for the verification of beer glasses was about to change even more three years later.

In 2004 EU Measuring Instrument Directive required member countries to adopt a standardised European system of stamping beer glasses. This was implemented in October 2006 and so the crown has now gone from our beer glasses as has the number system begun in 1879. From the National Weights and Measures Laboratory website          www.nwml.gov.uk/InstrumentSearch.aspx you can see the ‘Notified Bodies’ who have elected to verify ‘Capacity Serving Measures’.

Bury Metropolitan Borough Council are one of the few who have continued their role into the brave new world almost completely as supervisors of manufacturers.