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 to my website devoted to the History of Glass and Glassmaking in London.

Much of the material in this site is completely new or has been gathered from sources otherwise difficult to access.


The exact location of the Caribonum site 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. However, it must have been a too large investment just to make ink bottles and 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Sadly the Leyton works is no longer there, and the Alperton factory has now been replaced by a council block.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 me solve this problem.

A HISTORY OF GLASSMAKING IN LONDON 2nd Edition. The greatly enlarged (approaching 300 pages) second edition of my book is nearing completion and will hopefully be out towards the end of the year or early in 2013. As well as more illustrations and additions to the earlier years it has been extended to cover the changes in glassmaking in the later 19th and 20th centuries. The impression that (apart from Whitefriars) glassmaking essentially ceased in London with the closure of Apsley Pellatt is far from the truth. New specialist industries sprung up to meet a rapidly changing environment of lighting and heating and the stimulus of the 1851 Great Exhibition. The main problem for the author has been the haphazard way in which new glassmaking factories keep turning up and rendering it difficult to establish a logical sequence. So keep tuned.

1. NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION - Venetian Renaissance glass technology revealed.

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 £4.50 First Class(UK),and by Airmail £5.50 (Europe), £9.50 (Rest of World) so it will not break the bank.
You can order via this web site. Members of the Glass Circle get a £2.00 discount (as well as saving postage) if they are able to collect the book at a Glass Circle meeting. Email dcw@daroben.co.uk

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. See an interesting new article from the United Glass GOODWARE newspaper of 1971 on the problem of iron contamination in cullet. This article can also be found in the Glasshouses/ Later and Peripherial Glass Houses and then scrolling down to United Glass.

8. Broadfield House Glasss Museum UPDATE March 2012

We understand that Curator, Rodger Dodsworth who had suffered a stroke is now much better and is back at the museum at least some of the time.Thanks for his recovery.

Many will know of John Smith whose work extended well beyond that of caretaker, looking after the bookshop and often helping with queries when Roger was away. John has now retired and we wish him all the best for the future.

Nothing new so far about the threatened closure of Broadfield House Glass Museum by Dudley Borough Council and the consequent loss of its unique glass collection - the only one of its kind in the world. The British Glass Foundation that was formed back in 2010 with the object of saving the collection is apparently still liaising with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council which, under public pressure, changed its mind about closing the museum and had entered into the purchase of the Red House Cone site and/or part of the adjacent Stuart Crystal site. The owners suggested a new 2-story building to be known as the Wordsley Museum of Glass. Probably due to the financial constraints placed on councils by the coalition government a proposed study of the financial implications has either been shelved or put on hold. In the meantime a further problem has beset the project in that the cone, restored not long ago at a cost of £2 million, has undergone subsidence and is said to be in potential danger of falling down. However it remains open as part of the museum at the present time. Resolution of this problem in the near future seemed remote and still is in March 2012.
In the meantime the British Glass Foundation has already expanded its original brief by offering on its website financial support for budding glass artists.


Help us learn more about how glassmaking first developed and later adapted to meet the new industrial challenge facing our capital City.

Do look up my new section on how George Ravenscroft discovered English lead crystal. Click on the label opposite.

My book, Glassmaking in London

is now sold out. An enlarged second edition with more glasshouses and coverage of cold glassworking processes and their factories is in preparation.

This book, illustrated top right right, is the first London dominated in the production of elegant cut glass like this creamer, c.1825.London dominated in the production of elegant cut glass like this creamer, c.1825.account of how and where glassmaking developed in London. Powell’s Glass-making in England in 1923, and several other texts have contributed various aspects of the subject but without bringing them all together to provide a unified picture. With the exception of T&W Ide's factory at Glasshouse Fields (which operated until the late 20th century) and its replacement in Stoke Newington, Rankin Glass, my contribution covers events from the arrival of the first glassmakers in the medieval period up to the later 19th century and the closure of the Pellatt factory.

I describe the book as a travelogue as a main aim is to determine the precise locations of the glasshouses as well as describe what we know about their occupants and what they made. Some are well established,others were not previously known or were wrongly described. Maps and directions are given to help you find the sites. Click on the book to turn over a few pages and get an idea of what the contents are like.

This elaborate jelly mould states round the rim POULTON & NOEL. BELGRAVIA. LONDON. however, the registration mark tells us that it was made in Manchester in 1883.This elaborate jelly mould states round the rim POULTON & NOEL. BELGRAVIA. LONDON.: however, the registration mark tells us that it was made in Manchester in 1883.Glassmaking in London did not end in the 19th century but it did become more orientated to the requirements of our capital and its growing industrial base. There was a need particularly for bottles as well as support for the new industries of gas and electric lighting and radio where London mostly led the way. Not least was the unwelcome interruptions of war with our enemies.

Buried under the soil of London, beneath the medieval period, lies a wealth of artifacts and other information relating to its earlier occupation by the Romans. Mostly, the finds have only been covered piecemeal. Glass often comes a poor second compared with pottery and other material. With the support of Museum of London this website sets out to correct that lack of information and, particularly about how much working of glass was actually carried out in our capital. The results are not just surprising, they are stunning; and this research is still ongoing. Click on the ARCHAEOLOGY button to find out more.

In glassmaking, the stories of the 19th and 20th centuries are hardly touched upon amid growing concerns that the firms involved are gradually fading into obscurity. So a major reason for this site is a cry for help from all those interested. Some factories, from my own research, are given in the section Later and Peripherial Glass Houses but details about them are scant. So dig around your neighbourhoods; send me any information you can find to help build up a fuller picture for us all to enjoy and preserve for the future. All contributions will, of course, be acknowledged unless you wish otherwise.


Historians nowadays distinguish between glassworking, reheating preformed glass cullet, and glassmaking, founding glass from the raw materials of sand and ashes. The first use of glass as described by the Venerable Bede from AD 672 in Monkswearmouth and Jarrow, and later in Whithorn on the west coast of Scotland, and the great northern cathedrals such as Durham all seem to be examples of glassworking using preformed glass brought from as far away as the Middle East. The furnace required for glassworking was a much less substantial structure working at a lower temperature that for glass making. This may explain why we know that that glass was worked there but cannot find evidence for a proper glass furnace. The same problem exists relating to glass finds of this period in Kent. Originally the glass was all though to be imported but now it is certain that some was made there.

Britain had changed a lot by the time we reach the 13th century some 500 years later. It had been united under one King since William the Conqueror who controlled the country with an iron fist. The King's seat was in London so it is not surprising that when glassmaking first came to Britain, probably in the 13th century, it started in the south of England. London was not only the capital city it had by far the largest and well organised population.

The King was all-powerful and nothing could take place without his knowledge and his approval.

Further, the Port of London provided extensive docks for visiting ships providing ready and regular contact with the continent, particularly Holland with its great trading centre of Amsterdam and Fairs for the barter and purchase of all the necessities of life.

From the beginning of the sixteenth century, alongside a steady improvement in the quality of life - at least for the wealthier classes - the growth of ecclesiastical buildings and the expansion of building stately homes created a massive demand for glass windows and to a lesser extent for drinking glasses and tableware. This was met at first by imports from the Continent and subsequently by a new home industry.

Goblet, dated 1578, made by Jacob Verzelini after his Crutched Friars glass house had burned down in 1575.Goblet, dated 1578, made by Jacob Verzelini after his Crutched Friars glass house had burned down in 1575.Religious conflict on the Continent and the creation by Henry VIII, in 1534-6, of the Church of England, independent from Rome, encouraged disillusioned protestant glassmakers to settle in England. Initially progress was slow because the broad window glassmakers were required to teach Englishmen contrary to their family vows of secrecy. This aspect may have been over-emphasized in history as other glassmakers prospered, particularly Jacob Verselini a maker of tableware. Within two generations and by the end of the century the industry flourished beyond expectation.

A problem with the glassmakers was that their intensive use of wood conflicted with the requirements of the essential ship building (as many as 200 full-grown trees were required to build one ship)and iron founding industries dependent on charcoal. In 1613 the invention of a new type of coal-fired furnace made it possible for the King to ban wood-fired furnaces in favour of coal. Exactly what the new coal-fired furnace looked like is one thing that we would dearly like to know and, in conjunction with this, the date when the closed pot was introduced. Both are matters of speculation to which there are no unambiguous answers.

A seven year monopoly to exploit the new furnace was awarded to a courtier, Edward Lord Zouch in association with three colleagues including the inventor, Thomas Purcivall. Two years later, in 1615, a total monopoly of the industry was transferred to London-based Vice-Admiral, Sir Robert Mansell. It lasted until he retired in 1642.

Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire dating from 1570 The mullion and transom windows indicate Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire dating from 1570: The mullion and transom windows indicate "modernisation" from the medieval curve-topped single windows made possible by the more ready availability of window panes in England.Under his command, and with the help of his talented wife when he was away fighting pirates, the industry expanded in a controlled manner dedicated initially to supplying window glass for London and the King.

Thanks to the the provision of coal and a suitable clay for the glasshouse pots the expansion grew to encompass the Midlands round Manchester, Birmingham and Stourbridge, and also Newcastle and Sunderland in the North. The new (from about 1650) strong English dark glass bottle underpinned a massive industry that took their products all over the world. The production of window glass, by both the broad and spun processes, grew to meet the demand created by the increased building and modernisation of stately homes, ecclesiastical buildings and educational centres.

Posset pot made by Ravenscroft, c. 1676 The Ravenscroft seal at the base of the spout is a guarantee that his new lead crystal glass will not crizzle and decay.Posset pot made by Ravenscroft, c. 1676: The Ravenscroft seal at the base of the spout is a guarantee that his new lead crystal glass will not crizzle and decay.After Mansell's death, during the years of the Commonwealth under Cromwell, the industry to some extent stagnated (particularly that for eclesiastical stained glass windows, although not necessarily that for secular stained glass) only to be revitalised by the Restoration of Charles II to the throne. The Duke of Buckingham and other courtiers were effectively responsible for bringing glassmaking into the capital itself. Later, the invention/discovery of English lead crystal by Ravenscroft and his glassmaker da Costa, in 1674, not only gave England an industrial lead over the Continent for the next century but also (and no less important) has today enabled collectors and historians to distinguish English glass manufactures from that period and how they developed. As we progress through the 19th century, glassmaking, already in decline in London, found expansion into the provinces mentioned above a more commercially rewarding activity. But, alongside the might of Whitefriars, and to a lesser extent the already declining Pellatt factory, numerous glassmaking enterprises, both small and large, either remained or emerged to take their place.

It is these factories that we particularly wish to trace and record for posterity on this site.