Background notes to the Seaham Bottleworks

General background notes to the Seaham Bottle Works


The Bottle works were founded separately in Seaham by Fenwick and Candlish about 1853; Candlish' Londonderry Bottle Works grew into a major industrial concern, shipping bottles to London for use all over the world. The founder, John Candlish, lived 1816-1874, and served as (Liberal Party) Mayor of Sunderland in later life. The business was continued by members of the family.

In South Seaham, houses were built for the workers at Candlish Street, Gallery Row and Fenwick Row.
The bottle works closed in the late 1920s after the setback of the General Strike.


The following note on glass blowing by Philis Wainford comes from the website

To blow glass, red hot molten glass is rolled up onto the end of a long (4 to 5 foot or so, maybe more) hollow, metal tube or 'blow-iron'. The tube is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter with a mouthpiece on one end for blowing into. It is then turned and spun around by the glass blower so the glass will not melt off the end of it from gravity, and simultaneously blown into. The air fills the inside of the molten glass and very quickly the blower changes position in order to shape the air filled glass with various metal tools before the glass cools. It might need to be reheated some to shape it, but when it gets too thin, this is impossible since it becomes fragile as it cools, and the shock of changing temperature too quickly will crack it. Sometimes bottles are blown into a mold to form a uniform shape. After the blowing process the bottle is broken off the end of the tube and placed in an annealing oven to cool slowly to keep it from cracking. Then a new hot lump of glass is rolled up onto the tube and the process started all over again, probably about every fifteen minutes or so. Your ancestor would have had to have been a highly skilled craftsman to be a glass or bottle blower. It is quite exciting and to watch this demanding process of mainipulating a molten lump of glass into its final shape. If you ever have a chance to watch a modern glass blower blowing art glass, you will be amazed! After the bottle is removed from the oven in a cooled state, it would be polished smooth where broken off - usually on the bottom. This was likely done by another individual at the factory in a 'finishing department'. Although I'm not an expert on the local process for bottle blowing at Seaham, I know the above from studying art pottery and glass over the years. I might stand corrected by one of the experts, but generally speaking the above information should give you the picture.