Sowerby Glass

Records show a Sowerby Glassworks in Gateshead, North East of England in 1807.

From 1870 to around 1888, Sowerby had a hand blowing workshop, with workers from Italy, and making a range of Venetian-style glass.

In the 1880’s they used popular designs from the leading artists in the Arts and Crafts movement and reproduced artists drawings on pressed glass.

Sowerby’s became a limited company in 1881, and during the 1880’s exported both pressed glass products and raw materials to Europe and the USA. Trade was good in the early 1880’s, however by the 1890’s cheap imports from Europe saw profits fall. This coupled with WWI made it difficult for Sowerby until the early 1930’s by which time they had new designs, new mould makers from Bohemia coupled with new technologies.

This revitalisation was halted by WWII and by 1956 they were facing bankruptcy. The company was taken over by Suntex Safety Glass Industries Limited and continued to make coloured household glassware until 1972, when this division of the company’s operation was moved to the South of England. Most of the Sowerby moulds were destroyed in an accident during transportation.

The site in Gateshead is now a supermarket. Suntex have moved to Team Valley, where they make safety glass.