Pilkington UK production line prepares for move to neighbouring site as part of project which will save 15,000 tonnes of CO2e per year

Watson Street 2 LR

Watson Street Works, operated by Pilkington UK

Watson Street Works, a 200-year-old Merseyside glassworks has stopped production for the final time as part of a major investment project.

Operated by Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, the glassworks has operated in St Helens since 1826 and is where Sir Alastair Pilkington invented the modern float glass process, which is still used around the world to this day.

The manufacturer plans to move production to its neighbouring Greengate site, as part of a project that represents one of the single biggest investments the manufacturer has made in the UK in decades.

The glass supplier is upgrading its Greengate furnace to accommodate the site’s continued production of float glass, as well as the additional manufacturing line from Watson Street. The company expects that all jobs will be retained as part of the move.

The project will benefit from a £3.7m grant via the government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, which helps cover the costs of industrial energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects in the UK.

According to the manufacturer, running only one glass furnace in the town will save 15,000 tonnes of CO2e per year. The project is central to Pilkington’s Science Based Target Initiative certified target of achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2018 levels – and to meet net zero emissions by 2050.

Neil Syder, managing director of Pilkington UK, said: “Watson Street’s legacy can be felt in every building we live and work in today. It defined a century of glassmaking as the true birthplace of the modern float glass process, which enabled the mass production of high-quality glass around the world.

“Its closure forms part of how we’re defining the next century of glassmaking next-door at Greengate. That’s where, alongside our industry partners like Glass Futures, we’re completing pioneering work that will enable the global glass industry to decarbonise.”

Alongside its glassmaking heritage, Watson Street Works’ Victorian industrial architecture provided the backdrop for many films and TV series, including Marvel’s Secret Invasion and BBC’s Peaky Blinders.