Above: View in 1843 by Thomas Shotter Boys looking east from Blackfriars bridge towards London bridge. The smoke stacks of Whitefriars can be seen on the North (left) bank and of Apsley Pellatt on the South Bank.
Welcome back to my website devoted to the History of Glass and Glassmaking in London. After a period of absence due to vandalism we are pleased to be able to renew this resource for all those interested in London's glass history. A new 2nd edition of my book A History of Glassmaking in London is now available. It brings the history up to the end of the 20th century and reveals both the change in manufacturing emphasis and its expansion from the 19th century. It is a remarkable story.
The greatly enlarged (now over 300 pages) second edition of my book is now available although somewhat later than planned. However, it has allowed me to update and include much new information. As well as more illustrations and additions to the earlier years, particularly Ravenscroft's interest in making mirror plates and taking over Buckingham's Vauxhall glasshouse. The impression that (apart from Whitefriars) glassmaking essentially ceased in London with the closure of Apsley Pellatt is far from the truth. London became a major international centre for new specialist industries such as lighting, heating, radio electronics, mosaics, optics, painted glass, specialist blown glassware, the machine age of bottle making and the related fizzy drinks industry as well as the birth of studio glassmaking. Click on the cover page opposite to get more information, take a look at some of the pages and order a copy.
Dudley Council has agreed that the British Glass Foundation will become a Museum Trust to eventually take over the running of the brand new glass museum. The museum collection will be conserved and ultimately pass to the BGF A developer, Complex Developments, is offering the opportunity to move into a refurbished listed building on the White House Cone site which is opposite the historic Red House Cone site in Wordsley. Proposed plans for the site have now been published and can be seen through the local press. All this change will need money - a lot of money. At present the BGF has about £25,000 whereas it will need several million. So how all this will pan out is still in the hands of the Gods and the money market. The good news is that although the Red House cone has subsided a bit it has not so far fallen down.
Rodger Dodsworth, retired on March 1st last year after 35 years as Keeper of Glass and Fine Art, and we wish him well in his retirement. Kari Moody, who many visitors will know, has taken his place so congratulations to her, while her place as Glass Information Officer has been taken over by a new appointee called Alex of whom more anon. Both are on a 2-year secondment.
New information on the role of saltpetre in the discovery of English lead crystal glass. CLICK on the link opposite:- HOW RAVENSCROFT DISCOVERED ENGLISH LEAD CRYSTAL.
The Thames Plate Glass Works operated for 32 years from 1845, surrounded in a loop of the River Lea where it enters the Thames. In a sordid run-down area mainly women polished the plate glass for mirrors. However, the factory deserves a niche in history for casting one of the 28-inch blanks for a telescope located on Wandsworth Common. This lens held the record for size for 18 years. For more info, maps and pictures click Later and Peripherial Glass Houses and then scroll down to Thames Plate Glass Works.
The Key Glassworks in New Cross was probably the largest single bottle and jar maker before the formation of United Glass Bottles (UGB) of which it became a part. A new picture and article relating to the running of the Key Glassworks can be found in Glasshouses/ Later and Peripherial Glass Houses and scrolling down to Key Glassworks.
Glasshouses making bottles seem to have sprung up all over London. The latest to reach me comes from Cathie Daniel who writes:
Whilst researching my husbands family tree I found a connection to the Kilners of the Kilner jar fame. Amongst the family members was a man called Cuthbert William Bateson who worked for them but then moved to London. Whilst researching his history I came across entries in Kelly's Directory 1902 and the Post Office Directory 1934 which were 'Bateson & Co Glass Bottle Manufacturers, Bianca Road, Peckham.'
Can anyone help with more information about this one?
The Cottage Glassworks of John McLachlan in Lambeth was founded in 1808, about the same time as Apsley Pellatt's Falcon Glassworks. Almost unknown until rediscovered here it was nevertheless of considerable importance. A commemorative goblet and advertisement by the firm are illustrated.
Another new glassmaker is Clayton Bros., known only by one marked jug which is illustrated.
We need to know much more about both factories. Check them out in Glasshouses/ Later and Peripherial Glass Houses and scrolling down.
Italian proficient glass addicts may be familiar with the 2001 publication Ricette vetrarie del Rinascimento by C. Moretti and T. Toninato which transcribes a previously unknown mid 16th century manuscript of Venetian glassmaking practices and recipes. After a five-year grind I have now completed an English translation of the entire text and lengthy discussion which concludes that it was probably written by a member or relation of the Barovier family about 1560. To this I have added a few explanatory notes of my own and also some by Prof. Cesare Moretti with whom I collaborated in the later stages of the work to check for accuracy. But there is more! For some decades Venetian historian Luigi Zecchin has been beavering away in the Venetian archives as a result of which other glassmaking recipe books have come to light. The discussion compares the recipes in this text with those from five other recipe books (all new except Biringuccio and Neri) dating from the 1st half of the 14th century to 1644. These reveal that the glassmakers of the period were meticulous in their preparation and purification of the ingredients used, the type of pot required for a particular batch and the management of their furnaces. A form of cristallo using powdered flints was being made as early as the 14th century before the intrusion of the Black Death. Potash from grape vines as well as soda was used in formulating the batch where appropriate. So were extraordinary materials such as sheeps' shin bones!!!! and gold as used by the blacksmith. The recipes cover in addition to plain glass and cristallo, coloured glasses, enamels and the manufacture of mosaics - particularly those containing gold or silver foil inclusions. How these were made and the complexity of some of the recipes will amaze, particularly those for calcedonio (agate glass) as a result of which its manufacture by da Costa for Ravenscroft at the Savoy glasshouse resulted in the discovery of English lead crystal. It is no exaggeration to say that this text will revolutionise the understanding and thinking of those interested in early glassmaking and the processes involved.Reviews to date have been favourable. How much? you ask for the 94 A4 pages plus prelims and two pages of coloured plates. It costs only £15.00 plus P+P of £5.00 First Class (UK),and by Airmail £7.00 (Europe), £10.00 (Rest of World) so it will not break the bank. You can order via this web site. Members of the Glass Circle can save the postage if they are able to collect the book at a Glass Circle meeting. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The exact location of the Caribonum site in Leyton has now been identified and the surprising answer is that there never was a glassworks on this site. Caribonum made carbon paper and indelible black ink. However, the glass interest comes from the fact that the firm decided to make its own ink bottles and a new factory was built for this purpose at Alperton, Middlesex, alongside the Grand Union Canal. It was apparently designed by the same architect, Wallis, Gilbert & Partners as designed the Art Deco Leyton building. However, it must have been a too large investment just to make ink bottles so it must have been this factory that was taken over by the Key glassworks in 1926. Key specialised in small containers and perhaps it continued to make ink bottles for Caribonum. Key was subsequently absorbed into United Glass in 1962. Sadly the Leyton works is no longer there, and the Alperton factory has now been replaced by a council block. Presumably, computers more or less rendered carbon paper obsolete. Regarding the ink bottles I have one, unmarked called INDIAN INK on the label, the general name for a black carbon-based ink at that time. If anyone comes across a marked bottle I should be pleased to hear about it. Look also for the impression of a key on or near the base. My thanks to those who supplied information that helped solve this problem.