Glass Houses

The glass manufacturing industry was established in Bankside during the 17th century, or maybe earlier, with glasshouses close to Winchester Palace that manufactured bottles and possibly window glass. By 1688, the number of glass-houses had grown so much a petition was presented to James II to prevent the erection of further glass-houses within the area. Its thought there were two glasshouses in Stony Street at the beginning of the 18th century and its possible one of these was erected by John Bowles. John Bowles was responsible for the development of what became known as Crown Glass in Britain, a fine window glass developed in France by a secret process but by some means, John Bowles had discovered how it was made. Its thought that John Bowles in partnership with William Lillington owned a glasshouse in Bear Garden by 1678 which originally made white and green glass. By 1689, John Bowles was the sole owner and it was reported There is now made at the Bear Garden glass-house on the Bank-side crown window glass much exceeding French glass in all its qualifications. Needing room to expand, John Bowles sold the Bear Garden site and bought an already established glass-house in Ratcliffe north of the river. The Bear Garden glass-house was now owned by a syndicate possibly consisting of eight members, and it was reported they attempted to monopolize the production of plate glass.

A glass-house was established in Gravel Lane (now Great Suffolk Street), near the Falcon Tavern in about 1693 by Francis Jackson and John Straw, and in 1718 was referred to as The Falcon Glasshouse. Their advertisement in issue 2849 of the London Gazette proclaims they made all sorts of the best and finest drinking glasses, and curious glasses for ornament, and likewise all sorts of glass bottles. Jackson and Straw owned a second glass-house in Gravel Lane and its thought the two were amalgamated. A third glass-house in the area was in Upper Ground (an extension of Bankside to the West) . In 1803 the Falcon Glasshouse was purchased by Pellatt and Green, and in 1814 moved the company to an area of land where Hopton Street merges into Holland Street. Pellatt and Green (later called Apsley Pellatt & Co) became world famous for their high quality flint-glass, a brilliant composite glass with a high lead content, which they turned into magnificent chandeliers, table ware and very many other products. In 1843 it was reported:

By 1833, there were only three glasshouses remaining in London and Apsley Green the largest. The company moved into premises in Pomeroy Street off the Old Kent Road in 1878 and the cocoa mills of James Epps and Co moved into the premises in Hopton Street.

apsley pellatt glass

Apsley Pellatt wineglass 1852

the most elegant productions of the Continent are advantageously rivalled, and in some respects surpassed. The number of persons employed is from one hundred to one hundred and twenty in the glasshouse, and about thirty elsewhere. The weight of glass manufactured in the course of a year, into chandeliers, illuminators for ships or cellars, toilet or smelling-bottles, ornamental glasses of every description for the table, and various objects for medical and philosophical purposes, has been 20,000 lbs." (Brayley's History of Surrey)

Falcon Glass Works 1827-2
Bankside Lofts

Falcon Glass Works in 1827 and Bankside Lofts the building on the same site today. Both buildings follow the curve of the road, which is thought to follow the curve of Pudding Mill Pond, long filled in.


Francis Buckley, Old London Glasshouses(1915)
Victoria Ridgeway, Post medieval glass manufacture at Hopton Street in Southwark, London Archaeologist,Vol 9 No. 4 (2000) Glass News No. 13 June 2003