Report - Pilkingtons Glass Factory, Doncaster 2012 - 2015.

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The Amateur Wanderer

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Jul 22, 2012
God's own county of Yorkshire
Pilkington's Glass Factory, Kirk Sandall, Doncaster


Pilkington's, my local and much beloved industrial derp. First visited here back in March 2012 with a non member and was quite taken a back by the size of the place and just how awesome it was, especially since it was one of my first proper large scale industry explores. Before this the only really large place I'd visited was Thorpe Marsh next door! Anyway, with the place literally only a 15 minute drive away from me, I've visited numerous times since 2012 but for some reason, never put up a full report of my own, I'm not sure why, but saying that I only reported on Thorpe Marsh a few month back!

So this Easter I decided I'd go back again, have a good look around and collect any images I may be missing from other visits and compile a report. So three years on, here it is, my take on a personal favourite, Pilko's!

I've also put up a report of the engineers workshops previously, which can be found here:

Engineers workshops report


Pilkington's was original established in St Helen's Lancashire in 1826, the Kirk Sandall site however came into existence in 1922. A large amount of housing which has since been demolished also sprang up around the works to house workers. In 1923 Pilkington's developed a continuous flow process for the manufacture of glass plate and a method of continuous grinding, the Kirk Sandall site was quickly converted to this new technology. Glass production remained the same at the Kirk Sandall site, even when a newer cheaper method of production was developed in the 1950's. In the 1960's the site was mothballed history is a little vague around this area but it's clear that production did start again at some point as the factory was producing glass up until closure in 2008. Today the Factory premises are used by track work for the storage of railway sleepers and the training of apprentices.

When you compare aerial photo's of the site it's clear that a lot has changed over the years, in fact it appears that the main production hall is one of the only original parts of the site that remains. You can see that the old boiler, engine rooms and the chimney have all been demolished at some point, probably when the site was modernised to take electricity from the grid rather than provide it's own power from the steam engines on site. have no information on what make or manufacture these engines, boilers would have been, but it's apparent that they did exist. It's also apparent that the site did have an internal rail system too, and evidence of this can still be seen to this day, a few sources seem to suggest that a small industrial shunter may have been based here until the 1980's?

Anyway, that's a basic history as usual more will be added alongside the photo's.



Firstly and archive shot of how the plant looked back in the 1920s, take a look at this and compare it with the modern layout on google maps, you'll see what I mean straight away about the various changes made other the years.

Now an overview of the site taken from the top of the old gantry, I wouldn't advise climbing it either, the thing is in pretty bad condition, not surprising from it's age!



Main Production Hall:

So let's take a look inside...

This is the main production Hall where the glass would have actually been made.


This was still hanging in mid air on my first visit, must have made a right bang when it fell down...


The Control Room...


And inside, nothing massively interesting, again all the windows where intact back in 2012...


Inside one of the cranes!


The Sand Tanks in Hall No.2:

Not a lot to say about these just a few sand hoppers, fairly photogenic though.



The Electricians Workshop:

Still rammed with old plans and blueprints although the old Reyrolle set has taken a battering from the pikeys...


December 1940 dated blueprints...




Hall No.3, Loading Bays:

This is where the completed glass would have been sorted onto the back of wagons for delivery's or put onto fork lift trucks for storage in the yard. Part of the old internal rail link can still be seen inside here, I'm not talking about the sleepers that have been laid by the track work apprentices, I'm talking about the tracks that can be seen sunk into the concrete.





Internal railway heading into the sorting shed?


They ran past this building which looked very much like it could have been a former engine shed, I can't clarify whether it actually once was or not though sadly.




Underneath the Main Building:

Underneath the main building there's a few bits of interest namely the Mirrlees back up Generator set and the large amount of piping beneath the sand dispersers. It's all joined up by the long section of corridor pictured below.


The Mirrlees Engine and English Electric Generator make up the emergency back up generator set.




Here's the bottom of the sand dispensers as mentioned above...




The Pump House and Water Treatment Plant:

Not a lot to see in here, but worth including for completion...



And that's all guys, cheers for reading as always, and I hope you enjoyed the pics!! :thumb