Ravenhead Glass

Started by: ena malcup (106)

OK, so not exactly Wigan, but sort of next door.

It was still a thriving concern when I lived in the district.

Reading Wikipedia implies there was a suggestion of scandal concerning its closure about twenty years back.

It says Merseyside Police referred matters to the Serious Fraud Investigations branch, but issue was dropped due to lack of information.

Can anyone fill me in concerning what was going down there at that time?

Started: 10th Jun 2021 at 19:49
Last edited by ena malcup: 10th Jun 2021 at 20:01:00

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (7184)

They were making glass

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 20:13

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

Wasn't it to do with a Belgian firm taking over, closing it down, then stealing their pension fund?

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 20:22

Posted by: gaffer (6700) 

It was to do with the Belgian owners taking a contribution holiday and leaving the fund in deficit.It lead to pressure on parliament to set up a pension protection fund which came into being about 4 or 5 years later.
Incidentally Pilkingtons had a Ravenhead works in Thatto Heath. Pressed glass was manufactured there including tv tubes, glass blocks and electrical insulators for high voltage power lines.

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 21:16

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

I thought it was Ravenhead Brick in Thatto Heath gaffer? I think it became London Brick in the seventies.

A friend of mine was involved in the reclamation of the glassworks site. It led to the formation of Greenbank!

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 21:39

Posted by: Anne (3932) 

Ravenhead road leading off from Alexandra drive where Pilkington's head office stands/was appears to be in the centre of Ravenhead. Fibreglass ltd now Knaufalso situated there.

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 21:59
Last edited by Anne: 10th Jun 2021 at 22:10:24

Posted by: ena malcup (106)

Thank you all for the information.

One other snippet I found, is that Ravenhead Colliery was where James Anderton developed the famous Anderton Shearer Loader. (Northern Mine Research Soc.)

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 22:23

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

There's a good site for anybody interested in industrial history etc.. It's called Sutton Beauty!

Replied: 10th Jun 2021 at 23:26

Posted by: linma (2661)

What was the name of the glass making plant in Platt Bridge?

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 06:31

Posted by: PeterP (8565)

Linma CWS glass works photo under album Glass works

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 07:13

Posted by: gaffer (6700) 

Tonker. The Pilkington factory was at the bottom of Stafford Road.
I had a spell working for Pilkingtons central management services and one of my assignments was at the Ravenhead works. At the time Alex Murphy lived close to the factory gates. He had a large portrait hanging on the wall which was in full view as you walked past his house. It was of him in his rugby kit.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 09:13

Posted by: Anne (3932) 

Gaffer......are you meaning the glass fibre insusaltion plant? Entrance at the junction of Stafford road and Ravenhead road. The main entrance at the side of a row of terraced houses once called Factory Row, now appear to have their address on Ravenhead road.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 09:42
Last edited by Anne: 11th Jun 2021 at 09:45:23

Posted by: gaffer (6700) 


The main activity of Pilkingtons Ravenhead factory was the production of tv tubes for Thorn. This was for black and white screens. When colour came along Thorn opened their own tube factory at Skelmersdale. Eventually this led to Pilkingtons closing the factory. It is now occupied by Knauf insulation, although the front of the factory has been cut back to create space for the car park.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 11:01

Posted by: Anne (3932) 

Gaffer..... when was the TVs tubes factory in operation? I only remember the glass wool insulation and fibres being manufactured on that site, as far back as the early 1960s. Fibreglass Ltd, now Knauf.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 11:16
Last edited by Anne: 11th Jun 2021 at 11:20:05

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (7184)

I remember the bother there was when Thorn closed their tv tube factory in Skelmersdale.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 11:23

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

I'm sure the main activity of the Ravenhead factory was making drinking glasses and bottles?
It was known as 'Ted Ass' by the younger lads who worked there.
That said, there was several glass factories in the area.


Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 13:10
Last edited by tonker: 11th Jun 2021 at 13:11:26

Posted by: PeterP (8565)

Was it Ravenhead glass who made the famous dimpled glasses with glass handles

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 13:39

Posted by: gaffer (6700) 

The project I undertook at Ravenhead was a last throw of the dice to bring down the delivered cost of the TV tubes. At the time,1975, the factory was under the threat of closure. The fibreglass factory was then located beside the head office on Prescot Rd.
An extract from Hansard ,

HC Deb 17 July 1975 vol 895 cc1911-20
12.37 a.m.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)

I rise to make the case for the Ravenhead works in St. Helens and briefly to refer to the immediate background to the crisis which lies in the Pilkington Group's intention to close the Ravenhead plant in the town. Such a move would create a job loss of 750, in addition to previous redundancies at that plant and elsewhere in the company in an area where there are already well over 61,000 unemployed.
On 13th May 1975 a meeting was held at the DTI with the then Secretary of State for Industry to discuss the plight of the Ravenhead works. Representatives of the company, the General and Municipal Workers' Union, the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs and the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers were present. The company indicated three conditions for ensuring the continuity of glass making at Ravenhead.
They were, first, a load of at least 1 million sets of glass parts per year, of which 800,000 must come from the home market; secondly, realistic prices, giving an acceptable level of return on the capital employed; thirdly, an organisational structure involving Ravenhead and Skelmersdale within which Pilkington would have the ability to influence events and to plan forward in terms of volume, price and manufacturing programme, including sizes, designs and so on, with reasonable certainty.
It was clear, though, in view of the remarks the company made about losses of around £400,000 per month and the effect on group profitability, that only some form of temporary subsidy would ease the immediate situation. The Secretary of State promised to consider this carefully with the aid of a paper to be written by the civil servants at DTI.
A further meeting between GMWU and the Government was held on 22nd May 1975, to discuss the total situation at Pilkington's. Certain major requests were put to the Secretary of State. They were, first, Government help to obtain information from the company; secondly, Government money to aid production; thirdly, immediate aid on Ravenhead, and a rapid decision on the longer term future of television tubes; fourthly, pressure on BLMC and others to use Pilkington's glass; fifthly, urgent examination of the need for television tubes and flat glass, import controls, and immediate action in the Department of Trade on the dumping of television tubes.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 15:39

Posted by: Anne (3932) 

Gaffer......a long time ago I must admit but as far as I remember the entrance to Fibreglass ltd. which became Pilkington Insulation followed I think by an attempt to negotiatie a link with Owens Corning to eventually becoming Knauf was always by Factory Row.
The entrance to head office was on the other side of the lake where I was invited on three occasions for lunch with three different groups of people, these were thinly disguised as a vetting process prior to being posted to Bombay.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 19:51

Posted by: Anne (3932) 

Gaffer....I still have contact with a few ex-workers from there although some are quite elderly but will have a much clearer picture of the site layout than I have. Thanks for information provided.

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 19:57

Posted by: Tommy Two Stroke (7184)

You all know Erin don't yoo, our Erin, and at the moment Erin is in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, to cover the G7 summit for the Rensselaer Falls Observer and the Canton Times.

Well Erin's Mam, or should I say Mom, used to work at the Corning Glass factory in Canton, upstate New York, and she knew all about Pilkington's, and Pilkington's float glass process

Replied: 11th Jun 2021 at 22:42

Posted by: cheshirecat (79) 

I remember Fibreglass / Pilkingtons had a massive factory in St Helens near the Eccleston Arms pub.
The locals used to call the pub the "Top Nogs"

They also had a massive piece of land on City Road with a social club and adjacent sports pitches.

Was there a "Bottom Nogs"?
Maybe Tonker can shed some light on that

Replied: 12th Jun 2021 at 17:50

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

I've heard the Nags Head referred to as the "Bottom Nags" and I've heard of the "Top Nags".
I can't say I've ever heard them called 'top and bottom nogs'. I always thought they were referring to two pubs, each called Nags Head, one at the top of Boundary Road, the other at the bottom.

But I'm not that familiar with St.Helens , so I might be wrong!

Replied: 12th Jun 2021 at 18:16

Posted by: cheshirecat (79) 

It was a long time ago, Tonker. I could have got mixed up with the names? Nogs, Nags, etc.
The one opposite ( well across the road ) from Fibreglass was the Eccleston Arms.
Would that be Boundary Road?

Replied: 12th Jun 2021 at 18:32

Posted by: tonker (23577) 

No. That's Prescot Road. Boundary Rioad goes from near Pilks offices at Greenbank, crosses Knowsley Road, and goes down to the end of Duke Street / Dentons Green Lane, near Cowley Hill.

Replied: 12th Jun 2021 at 19:12


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