Construction of the factory began in 1919 but it apparently opened in 1922 at great cost to the Pilkington company which was established in 1826 over in St Helens. The site was chosen due to its canal side location and access to local coal and sand. In 1923 Pilkington’s, in collaboration with Ford in the States, developed a continuous flow process for the manufacture of glass plate and a method of continuous grinding. However in the 1950′s Pilkington’s 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. Pilkington’s quickly set about converting all their factories to this new technology with the exception of the Doncaster plant which retained the old method of production.
At its peak the factory had around 3,000 employees but by 1966 the plant was only running at 56% capacity and eventually the doors closed in 2008. The site was then sold in 2009 and has remained abandoned ever since. I’m not sure what the plans are for the site but there certainly doesn’t seem to be any signs that the area is to be redeveloped.
This was the second location of the day, joined by Ryan we were having a bit of a reccy visit looking for a site that had been eluding me for a while. We couldn’t find it but chased up a couple of other leads, one was a none starter the other was a little overground detached house. After those we decided to check this place out before heading home. This place is massive! I’d seen photos of the inside before so I had half an idea of the scale of this place but until you see it with your own eyes the photos don’t do it justice! Probably one of the most fun journeys to the site going through fields, marshland then eventually scaling an old disused bridge over the water. We ventured inside and had a quick wander around before noticing that we weren’t alone. After bagging a few photos we headed back out the way we came which allowed us to get a couple of shots of the exterior. Well impressed with this place, not only the size but considering how long its been empty and relatively open there was still a fair bit to see! Favourite bit had to be climbing the cranes at the back to get a long view of the inside of one of the buildings!
Don’t forget to check out the revisit report: Pilkington Glass November 2013
Finally a little video I found on the internet of the site up and running on its last day of production. Full credit to the author of the video:
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