Chandos Glass Cone, at the junction of Northgate and Valetta Place
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Sedgemoor (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 29852 37396
Reasons for Designation
Until the 17th century glass making in Britain was centered mainly in heavily forested areas where there was a ready supply of fuel for the furnaces and the raw materials such as sand and potash needed for producing glass. The industry was necessarily of an itinerant nature, the length of time spent at any one site depending largely upon the fuel supply. Inordinate amounts of wood were needed to fuel the glass furnaces and the forests were becoming depleted and for this reason the industry moved to areas where coal supplies were available. The impressive brick-built cone structures which housed the glass furnace and acted as a chimney first appeared in Britain towards the end of the 17th century. Despite surviving incomplete, the Chandos Glass Cone at the junction of Northgate and Valetta Place is one of the earliest industrial sites in the county, dating to 1725, and is a testament to early attempts by the First Duke of Chandos to establish an industrial centre in Bridgwater. The site is believed to represent the earliest exposed remains of a glass kiln in Western Europe and the chimney is reputed to have been the tallest nationally. There are several documented historical references to the site which date from its original construction to the late 19th century and partial excavation has added to our knowledge of the site and the way in which it functioned.
The monument includes the remains of an 18th century glasswork firing kiln
known as the Chandos Glass Cone, located in an area of land between the
junction of Northgate and Valetta Place, close to the west bank of the River
The glass kiln was constructed in 1725 as part of an early industrial
enterprise initiated by James Brydges, First Duke of Chandos, and it
originally consisted of a conical brick structure approximately 33m high. A
partial excavation carried out in 1975 revealed the lower courses of the
circular cone wall constructed of handmade bricks resting on blue lias
limestone slabs. The wall is canted inwards to an angle of 15 degrees from the
vertical and is 19.2m in diameter, surviving to between 0.6m to 2.4m high and
1.22m thick in places. An interior earthen floor was located at about 0.9m
below the present ground level with the remains of a substantial furnace
platform, approximately 6m across and 0.75m high situated within the centre.
Fragments of glass bottles and vessels were also recovered.
The kiln was in use for glass making for only a short time, production having
ceased by 1734 after which time it was converted to a pottery kiln. The sites
of a pump house and other ancillary buildings which were built onto the
outside of the cone have been located; these date from the 18th century. Large
quantities of pottery from this period have also been recovered.
Three clay-firing kilns were installed during the period 1840 to 1939 at which
time the kiln was part of the Bridgwater brick and tile industry and produced
domestic utensils and building materials.
The upper part of the cone was demolished in 1943 but the structural remains
of the original glass kiln, which were exposed during the 1975 partial
excavation, have been consolidated and conserved and are now on public display
with open access.
The 20th century viewing platform on the south side of the site is excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Hawtin, F, Murless, B J, 'Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society Bulletin' in Bridgwater Glasshouse, , Vol. 3, (1981), 2-5
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing