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Pioneering Merseyside Glassworks Embarks on New Era with Multimillion-Pound Investment

A chapter closed, and another began in the illustrious history of glass manufacturing in Merseyside as the Watson Street Works, a cornerstone of the industry for nearly two centuries, ceased operations on February 15. This move paves the way for a transformative multimillion-pound investment in its sister plant, marking a significant leap toward modernization and sustainability.

Founded in 1826, the Watson Street Works has been synonymous with innovation. It was here that Sir Alastair Pilkington revolutionized the industry by inventing the float glass process, a method that is still the cornerstone of flat glass production worldwide. This pioneering technique facilitated the mass production of high-quality glass, setting a global standard that endures to this day.

Now, under the aegis of the NSG Group from Japan, Pilkington UK is steering the legacy of Watson Street towards a sustainable future. The production is set to move to the Greengate site, also in St Helens, where a state-of-the-art furnace upgrade awaits. This shift is not merely geographical but represents one of the largest investments in the UK’s glass manufacturing sector in recent decades.

The Greengate site’s furnace has been re-engineered to not only continue the legacy of float glass production but also to integrate the manufacturing line from Watson Street. This strategic consolidation is expected to commence production in August, with the promise of retaining all jobs and maintaining uninterrupted customer service through well-planned stockpiling.

A notable aspect of this transition is the emphasis on environmental sustainability. Supported by a £3.7 million grant from the Government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IEFT), the project is set to significantly reduce carbon emissions. By operating a single, more efficient furnace, the initiative will cut 15,000 tonnes of CO2e annually, aligning with Pilkington UK’s ambitious goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Neil Syder, Managing Director of Pilkington UK, reflected on the significance of this evolution “Watson Street’s legacy can be felt in every building we live and work in today. It defined a century of glassmaking as the true birthplace of the modern float glass process, which enabled the mass production of high-quality glass around the world.

“It’s closure forms part of how we’re defining the next century of glassmaking next door at Greengate. That’s where, alongside our industry partners like Glass Futures, we’re completing pioneering work that will enable the global glass industry to decarbonise.

“Most recently, it’s where we’ve invented Pilkington Mirai, a glass with 52% less embodied carbon – representing the lowest embodied carbon glass of its kind.”

Indeed, Greengate is at the forefront of developing sustainable glass solutions, including the Pilkington Mirai, which boasts 52% less embodied carbon, setting a new benchmark for low-carbon glass.

The story of Watson Street Works, however, extends beyond its industrial achievements. Its Victorian architecture has been a coveted filming location, gracing the screen in productions such as Marvel’s Secret Invasion and BBC’s Peaky Blinders, and adding a cultural dimension to its industrial legacy.

As Watson Street Works transitions from a production powerhouse to a warehousing and logistics hub, its impact on the glass industry and its contribution to cultural heritage will remain indelible. With this strategic move, Pilkington UK not only honours its past but also embraces a future where innovation and sustainability are paramount.

Scott Dylan
Scott Dylanhttps://scottdylan.com
Scott Dylan, a UK-based entrepreneur, co-founded Inc & Co in 2019 with the mission to acquire and rejuvenate struggling companies, protect jobs, reduce creditor losses, and promote growth. With global operations and an impressive turnover exceeding £150 million, Inc & Co, co-managed by Group CEO Jack Mason and Group CTO Dave Antrobus, has effectively acquired and overseen businesses in diverse sectors such as Professional Services, Travel, Retail, Ecommerce, and Shared Workspaces. The firm has also profitably divested businesses like MyLife Digital to Dataguard and Laundrapp to Laundryheap. Outside his professional pursuits, Scott is an ardent mental health advocate, drawing from his personal experience with Complex PTSD. A supporter of Women in Business and Tech, Scott openly identifies as gay and places great emphasis on cultivating a diverse, inclusive workplace environment where team members are loyal and supportive. With over 20 years of experience in leadership roles, he recognizes the significance of nurturing robust relationships and cultures for achieving success. Born and raised in South East London, Scott's modest upbringing and his journey of overcoming challenges and learning from failures have influenced his entrepreneurial mindset. He maintains that success is a collective effort and that assembling a reliable team is crucial for accomplishing goals.


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