Report - - Ravenhead Glassworks - St Helens - March 2012 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Ravenhead Glassworks - St Helens - March 2012

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Ravenhead Glassworks - St Helens

A quick visit as I was passing and thought it would be rude not too!



Ravenhead Glass was a glassworks near Ravenhead Colliery, Lancashire, North West England. It was founded in 1850 by Frances Dixon and John Merson after a move from their earlier (1842) factory at Thatto Heath near St Helens. In 1852, this factory was sold to the Pilkington Brothers and Frances Dixon then acquired a 13-acre (53,000 m2) site at Ravenhead, building a new gas-powered glassworks. In 1913 the company merged with five other glass manufacturers, forming UGB (United Glass Bottle Manufacturers Limited).

Until 1931 these companies were primarily bottle makers but they branched out into domestic tableware in the 1930s making bowls, jugs and drinking glasses, many of these showing Art Deco influences.

From 1947, Alexander Hardie Williamson 1907-1994) was employed as consultant designer and during the 27 years he was with the company, he created over 1700 designs. Some of these were produced in their millions for public houses and restaurants and included the Paris goblet, the Dimple beer mug and the Babycham-style Champagne glass. He also designed a range of tableware, the Kilner jar and a collectable range of decorated tumblers.

In 1972, when Hardie Williamson retired, Ravenhead appointed two freelance designers; Annette Meech (who designed the Rosy Tumblers, Apollo and Solar range) and John Clappison (who designed Barmasters, Elegance, White Fire, Topaz, Icelantic, Olympiad etc. and also refined and developed Hardie Williamson’s Siesta range).

Following a downturn in the company's fortunes (and various changes of ownership) in the late 1980s, it went into administration in 2001 and the factory closed. There followed an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, following reference to it by Merseyside Police, but it was closed for lack of sufficient evidence.

In 2003 the Rayware Group, which bought the Ravenhead site announced that it would like to revitalise the brand, giving pint pots and other traditional glasses the Ravenhead name, placing the Ravenhead logo and its products in the Group's portfolio. So far I can't find out what went wrong; a fair section of the site was demolished in 2010; the rest of the buildings will be demolished soon after the blue asbestos is removed from the office block. As it is the remaining buildings are totally devoid of anything of interests; the metal thieves has stripped anything not bolted down and then moved onto everything which was bolted down; various small fires have left their mark along with the special brew cans.

My Visit

I first saw Ravenhead glassworks in December, was working nearby and watched a white van pull up, 4 guys jump out and fill it with scrap metal and disappear just before a Police car turned up.

Was localish again today so thought I'd have a quick mooch while my apprentice ate his lunch in the front of my van; due to the open plan nature of the site I just parked up next to it and started taking photos of this grim site.

15 minutes later I got a phone call from my apprentice just to let me know that Fire and Rescue were on standby and 2 community support officers were searching for me! I wandered down to say hello :) In brief; my apprentice wouldn't look out of place in the series Fat Gypsy Wedding and the 2 officers though his story of his mate just taking photos was just a bit suspicious given the history of metal theft from the site; fire and rescue was there due to the blue asbestos being on site!

Anyway; they were surprised to see me with a camera and not a steel girder under my arm. A quick chat put their minds at rest and we spent the next 10 minutes having a wander around the buildings together. Once they left I spent a bit longer exploring before I phoned my apprentice and told him he would have to make his own way home (he doesn't drive) as I was being locked up. He was very relieved when I appeared next to the van window as I put the phone down.

View of what remains of the main office building.


The boiler house and chimney.


Trashed building front which is the home of the blue asbestos.


Now I've seen trashed buildings, but this is well and truly trashed.


Having seen previous reports there was once things of interest on these floors, these days it's like a derelict multistory car park.


Stairwell without railings, probably a lot of hard work for not much return.


Upper floor of an adjacent building; looking back at the office block.


Gutted upper floor and collapsed roof. I had my phone call when stood up here and don't think I missed too much by heading back down to the ground.


My new exploring buddies go on ahead to look at another building :)


Back to the main building and the ground floor.


Passageway heading back to where I started.


Well that's it, a pretty grim place to see. It has also a fair bit of blue asbestos and grey asbestos as well as being a well known spot for metal thieves. Glad I popped my head in and it's the first time I've been busted this year.



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