Pilkington Glass, Doncaster

Pilkingtons were originally established in St Helens, Lancs in 1826.

Around the time of WW1 they looked to establish another site in the UK, supposedly to protect against European competitors entering the British market.

The site chosen for this was Kirk Sandall near Doncaster, favoured for its canal side location and ready access to local coal and sand.

The plant opened at great cost in 1922, apparently consuming most of the company’s reserves plus an additional £1m in new capital.

In 1923 Pilkingtons, in collaboration with Ford in the State, developed a continuous flow process for the manufacture of glass plate and a method of continuous grinding. Doncaster was quickly converted to this new technology, again at huge expense.

In the 1950’s Pilkingtons developed the “float” method of glass production (the molten glass is poured onto a bath of molten tin at 1000C). This was much cheaper as it did not require the grinding and polishing processes. Pilkingtons quickly set about converting all their factories to this new technology…except Doncaster.

By 1963 Doncaster was the only Pilkington factory producing polished plate glass and by 1966 was only running at 56% of capacity and production was suspended and the plant mothballed.

Not sure what happened in the intervening years, but there was obviously an upturn in fortunes as the plant was producing up to December 2008. This video shows footage of the last day of production.

Now compare and contrast that video with how it looks today…

Vast…but empty.

This was obviously the room where the continuous casting process took place

To you, to me

To the side of the long room were various rooms with hoppers

Burning Barrows

Plenty of evidence of the local metal recycling squad having been here




Outside was a small treatment plant

And a nice sunset to end the day (the “bridge” carried pipes from the treatment plant over the canal and River Don).


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