The History of Leith

April 20, 2011

The Glass Industry in Leith in the past (Now Gone)

A writer in the Bee, an old extinct Edinburgh. periodical, writing in 1792, says that about thirty years before there was only one glass company in Scotland, the hands working one-half the year in Glasgow, and the other half at Leith, and adds :— “Now there are six glass-houses in Leith alone,. besides many others in different parts of the country. At the time I mention nothing else than bottles of coarse green glass were made there, and to that article the Glass House Company in Leith confined their efforts, till about a dozen years ago, when they began to make fine glass for phials and other articles of that nature. About four years – ago they introduced the manufacture of crown glass for windows, which they now make in great perfection, and in considerable quantities. After they began to manufacture white glass, they fell into the way of cutting it for ornament and engraving upon it. In this last department they have reached a higher degree of perfection than it has perhaps anywhere else ever attained. A young man who was bred to that business, having discovered a taste in designing, and an elegance of execution that was very uncommon, the proprietors of the works were at pains to give him every aid in the art of drawing that this place can afford, and he has exhibited some specimens of his powers in that line that are believed to be unrivalled. It is but yesterday that this Glass House Company (who are in a very nourishing state), encouraged by their success in other respects, introduced the art of preparing glass in imitation of gems, and of cutting it in facets, and working into elegant forms for chandeliers ind other ornamental kinds of furniture.
In this department their first attempts have been highly successful, and they have now executed some pieces of work that they need not be ashamed to compare with the best that can be procured
elsewhere.”
The works of the Glass House Company at Leith were advertised as for sale in the Courant of 1813, which stated that they were valued at,£40,000, with a valuable steam-engine of sixteen horse power, valued at £21,000.

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