Whitefriars

Date Established:
1834
Date Trading Ceased:
Dec 1980
Whitefriars

Owned by James Powell & Sons from 1834, the Whitefriars glassworks (later Whitefriars Glass Limited), produced glass of the highest quality until the business closed in 1980. The firm is best known today for its exquisite tableware, bold decorative glass and stained glass windows. However, the company also produced more specialised products such as thermometer tubing, and throughout its history pioneered numerous innovations in glass technology.

At the start of the 20th century, the Whitefriars factory was between Fleet Street and the River Thames. In 1923, a new factory was opened in Wealdstone near Harrow, northwest London. The furnaces were lit at the new factory using the flame from a furnace at the old works, which had been carefully carried across London in a brazier. The company also had showrooms on Wigmore Street, and this attracted customers for both domestic and window glass.

One of the many well-known glass designers who worked at Whitefriars was Geoffrey Baxter. He joined the factory in 1954 after graduating from the Royal College of Art. Baxter had a great influence on Whitefriars table and domestic glass designs. In the 1960s, he began to experiment with a new moulded glass. This led to the introduction of the Textured range in 1967. The pieces were made in moulds using tree bark, nails, wire and other materials to produce alternative textures to the glass.

In 1963, the company changed its name to Whitefriars Glass Limited.

Interest rates, high fuel costs and a recession all played their part in the closure of the Whitefriars factory in 1980. It was at this time that the company records and numerous pieces of glassware were given to the Museum of London.

Alternate Names

  • James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd
  • James Powell & Sons
  • Whitefriars Glassworks
  • Whitefriars Glass Ltd

Bookmark with:

  • What are these?