Glass casting at St Helens began over two centuries ago at the huge Ravenhead works, built c.1773. The image (left) shows an 1840s impression of glass being cast - an incredibly hot, painstaking process. St Helens became increasingly important for glass manufacture; firms like Pilkingtons were making 150 tons of glass every week by the middle of the nineteenth century. You can read my feature on the World of Glass museum at St.Helens in the December issue of BBC History magazine. It's an amazing place to visit, especially if you are lucky enough to see a glass-making demonstration; the skill of the craftsman is fantastic to watch. Like me, you'll need to wear a hard hat in the historic underground tunnels (only discovered fairly recently) which lurk under the No.9 Jubilee Cone building. This immense building housed Windle Pilkington's continuous glass furnace, designed by the Siemens brothers.
Images © Sue and Nigel Wilkes:
Casting plate glass, Ravenhead. Pictorial History of the County of Lancashire, 1844.
The author in the underground tunnels at the World of Glass.