1876 saw John Northwood complete the first glass replica of the Portland Vase, the original is housed in the British Museum and was made by the Romans 2000 years ago. John Northwood’s work went on to inspire other glass workers: Thomas and George Woodall went on to become legendary glass engravers and their work is now displayed in museums around the world.
At the start of the 20th century, the Coalbourn Hill site was used for the production of lenses for railway lamps and maritime navigation lights as well as decorative glass wall tiles. Ultimately this venture was not a commercial success.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries local companies: Thomas Webb & Sons, Mills & Webb and Stuart Crystal were successful in securing contracts for supplying glassware to the major shipping companies and the Royal Navy. Stuarts even supplied the ill-fated Titanic in 1912.
During both world wars the major glass factories contributed to the war effort by making utilitarian glass products such as light bulbs, searchlight lenses, Aircraft runway landing lights, and Cathode Ray Tubes.