I would like to ask if anyone can give me some details about the first establishment of the lesser-known glassworks called the Cornhill Glass Works in Southwick, Co. Durham, please? They made pressed glass.
I see that some time ago someone inquired about this glassworks on this message board but there's nothing that helps me directly.
I am interested in it because I am following the life of a flint glass manufacturer named Thomas Walton, who was in Southwick for a short time at the beginning of the 1860s. He's listed in the census of 1861 as being a glass manufacturer. In 1857 he owned the "Sunderland Flint Glass Works" (otherwise known as the Wear Flint Glass Works) in Trimdon Street, Sunderland (not to be confused with Hartley's glassworks which was also Trimdom Street) but he only owned it for about a year. He sold it to Henry Greener, possibly because there was a sudden sharp depression in the industry that year. Presumably he went from there across the river and (I think) got set up with the Cornhill Glass Works which was owned by the Turnbull family.
It is known that Walton had crossed paths with a Thomas Turnbull - Thomas Turnbull (or another member of the Turnbull family?) ran the Haverton Hill glassworks a little further south in the 1840s, a works which Walton bought in 1849, selling it off in 1856 - so it seems possible that Walton was working for a member of the Turnbull family in the very first years of the establishment of their "Cornhill Glass Works" in Southwick. Most references I have found on the internet say that his works did not begin until 1865 but given that Walton had been so involved in flint glass making up until then, it seems a bit unlikely that he would have been working at the local Southwick bottle works or crown glass works (owned by Scott and Attwood respectively I think).
It is known from the death of his wife in Manchester in 1866 that Thomas Walton had left by the mid-1860s. So he was only in Southwick for a few years. His sons had found some good opportunities in Lancashire and it may have been simply because of age that he followed them. But I wonder if he didn't want to adapt to the new trends in glassmaking. Pressed glass was on the rise in the north-east, pushing out blown glass. Both the Cornhill Glass Works and the Wear Flint Glass Works became heavily involved in pressed glass after he left them.
I am just wondering if the date of 1865 for the "start" of the Cornhill Glassworks was the date that Thomas Walton pulled out and went to Manchester, and the company was renamed and/or taken over fully by the Turnbulls.
I would be interested to know if the Turnbulls at the Cornhill Glass Works were making early experiments in pressed glass when they opened, supposedly in 1859 "a small family firm" (www.pressglas-korrespondenz.de
), but made their bread-and-butter out of blown glass at that point until the new techniques were established?
Of course, as people will remind me, pressed glass was taking off in Manchester too. But the Walton family do not appear to show any great interest in pressed glass wherever they went. Their origins were firmly in quality blown-glass, going back to at least the late 18th Century in Stourbridge. Members of Thomas's family had three flint glass works in Lancashire but they don't seem to have specialized in blown glass, as far as I know. They seem to have experience of various sorts of glassmaking between them, as if they just went with whatever presented itself, travelling and adapting themselves, but not concentrating on one form. Perhaps for those without large capital resources or special design skills, or luck, this is the best way.
I would really appreciate any comments. By way of background, I am researching the Waltons because Thomas Walton's son (Thomas Walton Jnr.) went to Japan to help the Japanese develop their first Western-style glassworks, in 1874. I need to understand Thomas Walton Jnr.s background to know how useful he was in Japan and why he was chosen. The topic of the Shinagawa glassworks has already been mentioned on this message board a few months ago (10 December 2008) by David Encill of Chance Expressions, when he discussed the research already done in Japan by Ms Osumi.
I should say that I have relied for some of my information on the research by Alan Leach published in the "Glass Cone" (magazine of the Glass Association), No.21, Spring 1989, which was mainly about the Haverton Hill glassworks.