The glassworks was established in 1788 in Nailsea, Somerset by John Robert Lucas. The company initially traded as "Nailsea Crown Glass and Glass Bottle Manufacturers" making window glass and bottles. Nailsea was close to the bulk ingredients needed as well as being close to plentiful supplies of coal needed for the furnace. In later years, sand of higher purity was shipped in from further away enabling the Glassworks to produce clearer grades of glass - including that used in the Crystal Palace. By 1835 the Naisea Glassworks had become the fourth largest glassworks in Britain. Lucas entered into various partnerships before his death in 1828 when his son-in-law took over control of his share of the business, entering into a new partnership in 1844. The glassworks changed hands in 1855, 1862 and again in 1870, however gradual decline together with failure of the local coal supply brought an end to the works, and in March 1874 they finally closed. Little remains of the site today - the remaining structures have been designated as a schedued monument.
Today Nailsea is known for decorative "latticino" glass although this type of glass was not part of the company's staple production. It was the "end of shift" domestic ware and novelty pieces made by the skilled and apprentice blowers from end of batches that have given Nailsea its international recognition. It remains a favourite with collectors.
Early glass furnace typical of the Nailsea Glassworks
We have only given a brief overview of the Nailsea Glassworks here. Excellent sources of further information on Nailsea are Historic England-Nailsea Glassworks and Nailsea & District Local History Society-Bottle Green & Coal Black.