Coal hole plate made in Southwark

Lost Industries of Southwark Education Resources

Document 12 Using Worksheet 12

Glass Making



Glass-blowing Furnance from 'Days in the Factories'

Glassmaking has a long history in Southwark. In the Tudor period Peter Nicholson, Barnard Flower and Galyon Hone, Southwark residents, were responsible for making some of the wonderful stained glass windows for the chapel of King's College, Cambridge. It was a gritty and dangerous occupation in which work took place in very high temperatures. Glassmakers, like metal foundry workers, got very thirsty and drank a lot of beer.

Southwark was a well-known domestic glass area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Glassworks were set up near Falcon Stairs (see modern Falcon Point) in the late 17th century and continued to operate under a variety of names and ownerships until the late 19th century when they moved out of London. In 1730 John Matthews set up a bottle-or green glasshouse at Old Barge Stairs in Christchurch parish, Southwark. Bear Gardens Glasshouses (near modern Shakespeare's Globe) made window glass and later the British Plate Glass Manufactury was set up to cast this new form of window glass in Albion Place, near Blackfriars Bridge.

'Days at the Factories' uses as its example for 'A Day at a Flint Glass Factory' Mr Pettat's glassworks in Holland Street, Blackfriars.

'Confining ourselves to flint-glass, we now invite the reader's attention to the process of manufacture…the various buildings necessary for the production of flint-glass ware; such as a horse-mill, for grinding old melting-pots, as one of the ingredients in the manufacture of new ones; a room wherein ground or powered clay is mixed and kneaded into a working state; another in which the opts are made; others for drying the manufactured pots; rooms for storing, washing, and preparing the alkaline salts; others for washing and drying the siliceous sand; a mixing-room, wherein the sand, alkali, and oxides are combined; two coking-ovens, or furnaces for converting coal into coke; the glass-house, with its working furnaces, pot-furnace…glass-cutting and glass engraving shops…the whole occupying an area of about three-fourths of an acre.

The term 'flint-glass' is given because flints were formally employed as the siliceous material: they were made red-hot, and plunged into cold water, whereby they were so fractured and disintegrated as to be easily ground to powder. Sea-sand is, however, now found to answer the same purpose, at a less expenditure of time and trouble.'

Illustrations from 'Days in the Factories' show the various skills employed in glass making. Glass engraving, the author says, 'is strictly a branch of the Fine Arts, and as such places the engraver on a different level from the other workmen.'

Glass Blowing

Glass Rolling

Glass Rotating

Bringing the Mass into form



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