Post-medieval glassworks 250m south east of Clarke's Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020704

Date first listed: 05-Jul-2002


Ordnance survey map of Post-medieval glassworks 250m south east of Clarke's Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Tameside (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SJ 94153 94633


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Glass has been produced in England since the Roman period, although field evidence is scarce until the late medieval period. Wood was the main manufacturing fuel up to the early 17th century, so the industry was located in woodland areas, particularly the Weald. From about 1610, production shifted to the coalfields. Glass production requires three major components: silica, alkali and lime, together with colouring material for certain products and decolourisers for clear glass. Lead was also used in the production of certain types of glass during the Roman period and after the 17th century. The manufacturing process involves three stages, fritting, melting and annealing. Fritting was a common practice before the 19th century involving heating the main glass constituents to produce an unmolten material for grinding, melting and annealing. Melting involved the remelting of previously formed glass, and the production of new glass from raw materials. Until the late 19th century, glass was normally melted in pre-fired crucibles of refractory clay, on stone benches called sieges, within the melting furnace. Use of coal as the preferred fuel and automatic bottle-making machinery in the 1880s led to changes to the melting furnaces and the use of larger furnaces, hitherto conical structures over circular furnaces. Regenerative furnaces were developed in the 1860s, and tank furnaces for bulk melting quickly followed. Flat-glass production methods were made obsolete by the Pilkington float-glass system of 1959. The third process is annealing. Because the rapid cooling of molten glass can give rise to internal stresses, glass was treated in furnaces designed to heat the glass to a point where deformation begins, then cooled gradually. In the 19th century conveyors were introduced to take glass through a hot zone into cool air. Features on glass manufacturing sites include various types of furnaces, producer-gas plants for the making of gas from coke at 19th century glassworks, bottle-making machinery, blowing irons or pipes for blowing glass, glass residues and various buildings used as stores or warehouses. A total of 135 glass production sites (representing about 25% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry) have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed though a comprehensive national survey of the glass industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity, and to include all the better preserved glass sites, together with rare individual component features.

The post-medieval glassworks 250m south east of Clarke's Bridge represent a well-documented, well-recorded example of this type of monument, together with the probable remains of further buried features in the immediate vicinity. The works were one of the first to have been fired by coal, and remains of the coal extraction pits may lie close to the site, although later mining has obscured the location and nature of these remains. Overall, the site has high importance as a representative of experimentation in the early post-medieval industry and of the early industry in Lancashire. The remains lie in a riverside park, administered by the local authority, and have been marked by display boards and explanatory leaflets. Consequently, the site has a high public profile and a value as an educational and recreational amenity for the Tameside community.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the part-excavated, buried remains of a post- medieval glassworks on the west bank of the River Tame in a field known as Glass House Fold. The glassworks was founded by a Huguenot glassmaker named Isaac De Houx in 1612. He married into the local Pilmey family in 1620 and the glassworks continued in use under the control of the De Houx and Pilmey families until 1642, when the glassmakers lost their license. The furnaces were fired by coal, an innovation at this time, and coal was extracted from a pit 80m to the north of the site. The water required in the process was from the River Tame which flows past the site on the eastern side. This glassworks produced high quality clear glass for windows, also green, blue and opaque black glass vessels. Examples of this production have been found from excavations in Halton, Chester and Merseyside. The site was partially excavated between 1969 and 1973. An area 30m by 15m was opened, and this revealed the presence of a stone-built glass furnace with two sieges (benches)and arched flues on the north and south sides feeding the central hearth area. The whole structure measured about 8m by 4m. Most of this structure was removed with the intention of reconstructing the furnace on site at a later date. However, this plan has been abandoned and much of the stonework is now on display in the museum at Portland Basin in Ashton-under Lyme. A second, stone-built, furnace was excavated 7m to the south of the main furnace. It was probably made as an annealing kiln, with three chambers fed by a single flue. The whole construction measured about 8m by 4m. This was partly consolidated, conserved in situ, and reburied with the intention of displaying the remains at a later date. The excavator surmised that there were more remains of kilns and associated buildings immediately around the excavated area, and further survey work has presented an inconclusive picture of possible glassworks and coal extraction remains in the immediate vicinity. The scheduled area reflects the wider area of such buried remains. A display board and the surfaces of footpaths are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 33878

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hurst-Vose, R, 17th Century Glasshouse at Haughton Green, (1996)

Portland Basin Museum, (2001)

End of official listing