Report - - Pilkington Tiles - Swinton - Feb 2011 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Pilkington Tiles - Swinton - Feb 2011

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member



In 1889 the Clifton and Kearsley Coal Company sank a pair of pit shafts with the intention of working the coal seams lying adjacent to the geological feature known as the Pendleton fault. However, the work became increasingly difficult due to the excessive quantity of water that was encountered. When it became clear that the work would not produce coal, the four Pilkington brothers decided to use the marl that had been encountered to make glazed bricks, however, the marl was found to be unsuitable for this purpose.

By chance, the secretary of the coal company knew William Burton, a chemist working for Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. Burton tested the marl and suggested that a more commercial venture would be to make tiles. Decorative tiles were at that time becoming quite fashionable and they were in high demand. The site of the proposed factory had many advantages—it was close to Clifton Junction railway station, it was adjacent to Fletcher's Canal and there was abundant coal nearby in the local Wet Earth Colliery, a short distance away along the same canal.

By 1903 the factory had developed an opalescent glaze called Lancastrian, named after the county of Lancashire where the factory was sited. It became popular in Pilkington's Lancastrian line of pottery. A later glaze took its name from Manchester, the Cunian glaze. Other famous glazes were used, e.g. sunstone, eggshell, fiery crystalline, aventurine, merged and curdled glazes. Glazes of different textures were also produced. These "fruit skin" glazes had surfaces like orange peel or apricot.

23rd June 2010 - Administrators from KPMG made 204 staff redundant at collapsed tile and flooring business, all 204 redundancies were from the Swinton factory which now has 139 employees remaining. I’m not sure when all the workers were laid off; there are still pallets of tiles dated 10.02.11!


After a couple of fails and an unusual explore we decided to have a look at Pilkington Tiles on the way home, luck was on our side and the visit went very smoothly, an ideal place to finish off the day.

I worked here 20 years ago and all the tiles in my kitchen and bathroom have come from the factory shop. A once busy site is now empty and quiet; much of the machinery has been auctioned off or removed from site. Visited with Dan and Ojay.

The first building we came to was mostly empty, but is huge.


Work shop within the building


Previous calling cards, rude not to add ours


Another large building attached to the main building


Machinery still in place with lot number hanging off


Old brick chimney at rear of the site


Looks like a water treatment/settlement tank


A corridor of barrels


Large building with the machinery still intact, for how long who knows?


Partially demolished structure which appears to be a feed hopper or similar, you’d be a fool to stand underneath this



Obligatory control panel shot


Well that’s it, a great explore. Have tried to post some different images from the previous report; which wasn’t too hard as it’s a huge site.​


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