The Friends of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
The Friends of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
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DateLecture
28 October 2019Making Glass in Scotland
25 November 2019The Japanese Garden

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Making Glass in Scotland
Jill Turnbull
Monday 28 October 2019

Lecture starts at 7.30pm, doors open at 7pm

Tickets £5 (£4 for Friends) includes tea/coffee and biscuits


The first patent to make glass in Scotland was granted in 1610, and a large amount of high quality glass was produced over the next 400 years. The last table glass was made here in 2006, although over two million bottles a day are still produced in Alloa.

Glass is a tricky industry, for example, the fire in the furnace is only allowed out if the furnace itself needs repair, so all the early glassworks were on or very near a coalfield. Another problem is that a tiny amount of unwanted oxide in the sand can discolour a whole crucible of molten glass and be very costly – and even in modern times it can be hard to trace the source of the problem.  

Of course, the English glass industry was much bigger than that in Scotland. Despite this, large amounts of high quality glass were made here, but very little research has previously been done.  Dr Jill Turnbull has been researching and recording the industry for the past 25 years and will discuss some of the material she has found and show examples of the glass that was produced here.

Jill Turnbull discovered the joys of research while studying for a degree in the history of art and design as a mature student at Stoke on Trent Polytechnic. She followed that by completing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1999. Her thesis, The Scottish Glass Industry 1610 – 1750 was published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2001. In 2017, the Society published From Goblets to Gaslights, the Scottish Glass Industry 1750-2006 thus completing the history – although there is, of course, always more to discover. She has written numerous articles on the subject and is very keen to demonstrate that not all good glass was made in Stourbridge!