St. Helens is an industrial town just to the east of Liverpool. There's
a really nice site with an online version of The
Pictorial History of Lancashire that describes the town in some
detail, including how glass was manufactured. Barker's book has a payroll
list for two weeks in 1849 for Pilkington Glass in St. Helens.
"St. Helens is a township in the parish of Prescot mentioned hereafter, and may be said to contain the four townships of Sutton, Parr, Windle, and Eccleston. It is uninteresting in appearance-straggling and irregular; built of red brick; is ill-paved, dirty, and lies low. It has a neat townhall, which contains a news' room, magistrates' court, and police office. The church of St. Mary is a large building erected of brick; the other churches are St. Thomas, built by Mr. Greenall, M.P. for Wigan, provided for by a small endowment; one at Eccleston, outside the town, built by Mr. Taylor, of Eccleston Hall, and a chapel of ease to St. Helens at Parr. A canal runs from St. Helens to Runcorn Gap, passing close to Warrington, and joining the Mersey: it is one of the oldest in England. Of the railroad from St. Helens to Runcorn, about three miles is used as a branch to the great Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and numerous colliery railways run into the line, connecting with it different works.
"There are many Irish in St. Helens, and about four thousand Catholics, also an Independents' chapel, and a Quakers' meeting-house of great antiquity.
"All sides of the place exhibit tall chimneys and dense smoke; the chemical works around exhale sulphurous vapours, and many of the inhabitants have their houses-out of the town in consequence."
"St. Helens, originally an inconsiderable village, is now a very thriving town, and is likely to rise into a place of very considerable importance. Its prosperity must chiefly be attributed to the great abundance of excellent coal found in its neighbourhood, and its easy communication with the port of Liverpool, by railway and canal. In addition to the facilities afforded by the Manchester' and Liverpool railway, there is a railway between the St. Helens coal-field and Runcorn-Gap, which affords a direct and cheap communication with the navigation of the Mersey. These advantages early pointed out the place as a favourable locality for the establishment of works in which great heat, and consequently a large consumption of coals, would be required, such as the smelting and refining of copper ores, the manufacture of glass and vetrified pottery-ware, etc. Our artist has here given a distant view of St Helens. Formerly, the establishments erected for smelting copper were on a very large scale; but they have now been for the most part discontinued, and the staple manufacture of the place is plate glass, which is carried on at Ravenhead, and is the largest establishment of the kind in England, affording employment to more than three hundred workmen. The first company for the manufacture of British plate glass was incorporated in 1773, and commenced its operations at Ravenhead; on its failure, the concerns were transferred, in 1798, to a new company, under the management of which the establishment has thriven beyond all expectation or precedent, so as to render the British plate glass superior to that of any other country."
" The principal manufacture of St. Helens, as already shewn, is glass. A species intended to supersede the plate, has been lately manufactured in the town, and is called German glass, made by foreign workmen, principally Belgians, introduced by Mr. Pilkington in 1841. This glass is not cast, as plate glass is, but made somewhat in the mode of window or crown glass, and intended as a cheap substitute for plate."
"St. HELLENS, (N. lat. 53º. 25". W. lon. 20º. 39") 4 miles
E.N.E. of Prescot; 12 miles E.N.E. of Liverpool;
51/4 miles S.W. of Ashton-in-makerfield; 10 miles N.W. of Warrington; and 198 miles from London. This
flourishing place is in the parish of Prescot, under which it has a chapel of ease; patron, the vicar of Prescot.
Here are also a dissenting chapel, and a Quakers' meeting house, in a part of the town called Hardshaw, the
name by which the place was formerly known, but the titulary saint of the chapel of ease, soon after it was
built, gave it a new name, and that of Hardshaw is now nearly forgotten. St. Hellens has risen, during the
present reign, from a small inconsiderable village, to a large well built populous town"
"WARRINGTON, (N. lat. 53º 2". W. lon. 2º 30".) 18 miles W.
of Manchester; 18 miles E. of Liverpool; 12
miles S. of Wigan; 10 miles E.S.E. of Prescot; 523/4 miles S.S.E. of Lancaster; and 188 miles from London,
is situated on the river Mersey, which divides it from the parish of Groppenhall, in Cheshire, part of which
parish forms a suburb to, and appears to be a part of the town of Warrington, to which it is joined by a stone
bridge, built by the Earl of Derby, in the reign of Henry VII. The principal part of the town of Warrington,
consists of four streets, which cross in the centre. There was formerly an Augustine priory, in this place,
(founded in 1379) of which no traces now remain. Of the earlier antiquities of Warrington, we have little more
than tradition. It has been said that Warrington was a Roman station, but the opinion has not much, if any
conclusive evidence to rest itself upon. The trade of Warrington chiefly consists of glass and sail cloth
manufacturies, tho' it has a portion of the check and cotton trade. The parish church, which is a rectory, stands
at the E. side of, and at the extremity of the town; patron, the heirs of R.A. Gwillam, Esq. Besides the mother
church, there is a handsome chapel of ease, patrons, the heirs of the late T. Leigh, of Lyme, Esq. and in the
Cheshire suburb, another chapel, under the parish church of Groppenhall. The parish church has under it the
chapels of Burton-wood and Hollinfare. The town has also places of worship for dissenters of almost every
persuasion. The market day is Wednesday; and the annual fairs are held July 18, and November 30, for
horses, cattle, and woollen cloth: the latter fair lasting near a fortnight. Warrington gives title of Earl to the
noble family of Grey, the title being borne by the same nobleman who is also Earl of Stamford. In 1801,
Warrington contained 2,296 houses, and 10,567 inhabitants"
T.C. Barker, "The Glassmakers, Pilkington 1826--1976".
Weidenfield and Nicholson, London. 1977..
T.C. Barker and J.R. Harris, "A Merseyside Town in the Industrial Revolution. St. Helens 1750-1900.", Frank Cass & Co. London. 1993.
R.A. Parkin, "The Window Glass Makers of St. Helens", Society of Glass Technology, Sheffield. 2000.
Mary Presland, "St. Helens, a Pictorial History", Philmore & Co. Chichester, West Sussex. 1995
George Routledge, "The Pictorial History of the County of Lancaster," Manning and Mason, London. 1854.