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Newcastle, Closegate Glasshouses
Industrial production of glass commenced on Tyneside in 17th century. The two areas concerned were the Closegate, operated initially by the Dagnia family, and the Ouseburn (see HER 1913-1915).Most of the production was of bottle glass, crown and plate, but some crystal was made by the Dagnias who managed to achieve the process of using lead oxide to produce good quality glass (a technique discovered by George Ravenscroft). Edward Dagnia owned a glasshouse in Bristol in 1651. His three sons, Onesiphorus, Edward and John set up the Skinner Burn or Close Gate glasshouses just outside the city walls near to Close Gate. The Dagnias erected their first glasshouse here in 1684 and ultimately had four works in this area making bottles and flint glass. In 1730 the Dagnia family (the three brothers had all died by 1717) employed John Williams as manager of the glassworks. He was a descendant of another John Williams, manager of the Bristol glasshouse in 1651. This John Williams used to work at Stourbridge (see HER 3482). In 1731 he married Margery, widow of John Dania and within a short time two of the original Dagnia glasshouses became John Williams and Company. John Williams died in 1763 and his two sons carried on the business as Williams and Company except that the lease of the works owned by Christopher and John Dagnia was now expired. The two Dagnias let the works to John Cookson and Company until 1775, and the Cookson family eventually acquired this group of glasshouses. The two glasshouses of the original Onesiphorus, which passed to the Williams family became extinct in 1782, destroyed by fire. It is said that Forth Bank and Close Gate was the place chosen by the first Huguenot glassmakers in Newcastle, but permanent glass-making was really started here by the Dagnia family. There were four glasshouses at Close Gate. "The Flint Glasshouse Without Closegate" for making white glass and bottles. This was probably the flint warehouse recorded by Houghton in 1696, then the only one on the Tyne. This was one of the glasshouses transferred to John Williams and Company. Francis Rudson may have been one of the partners until he became bankrupt in 1751. "The Bottle-house Without Closegate" had John Harrop as partner in 1701.
<< HER 5069 >> C. Bray, Tyne and Wear County Council, Museums Service 1972, A Brief History of Glass Making on Tyneside F. Buckley, Glasshouses on the Tyne in the Eighteenth Century, Journal of the Society of Glass Technology, p27-29; Fraser, R., Maxwell, R. & Vaughan, J.E., forth. 'Excavation adjacent to Close Gate, Newcastle, 1988-89', (page proofs); Newcastle Chronicle 14th March 1885