Glass Futures project on course for St Helens

28 Feb 2019


Representatives from the UK and international glass industry are set to meet in St Helens this Thursday (29 February) to discuss the next steps for Glass Futures, a national centre of excellence for glass innovation, earmarked for the borough.

The £70m ground-breaking scheme brings industry and academia together in a consortium made up of major glass manufacturers and universities, including Pilkington Glass, British Glass, and the Universities of Liverpool and Leeds – with the aim of putting the UK at the forefront of global glass manufacturing.

In early 2018 St Helens was announced as one of two locations across the UK to become home to Glass Futures, with the mothballed line at the Pilkington Glass Watson Street – home to Pilkington texture glass and Pilkington Profilit – preferred to focus on the “hot” side of glass production. This would see the installation of a large experimental glass furnace capable of producing 30 tonnes of product per day for windows, buildings, bottles and fibre glass.

In December, Government announced a £66m fund for ‘transforming foundation industries’ which would be accessible to the sectors of glass, ceramics, chemicals, steel and cement as well as a £170m fund to support these industries to reduce their carbon emissions. It is likely that Glass Futures will be funded from these sources.

On Thursday (28 February) at the symbolic World of Glass Museum, key industry players including Pilkington Glass and academics from Universities such as Leeds and Cambridge are due to meet to discuss the final design and operating model, ahead of further discussion with the Government.

Council Leader Derek Long said:

“As a borough we have witnessed a remarkable increase in jobs over recent years and have the second highest jobs growth in the North.

“Our commitment however is not just to attract a volume of jobs, but to also attract good quality manufacturing jobs too.

“Hence why Glass Futures is so important. I’ve been to London this week to meet with officials from Innovate UK to stress how committed we are in St Helens to make this project happen and I am looking forward to taking part in some of the industry discussions that will happen later in the week.”

Councillor Long continued:

“St Helens has been able to secure support for the project from a range of sources due to the strong local commitment to making this project happen, as shown at a St Helens Ambassador event held last year in the World of Glass to welcome the industry and demonstrate how important the project is to St Helens.”

David Dalton, Chief Executive of British Glass said:

“We’ve had great support from St Helens Council in developing the Glass Futures project and are looking forward to discussions in the borough this week.

It’s an important project for the whole of the UK glass sector and being able to work with a place that really understands glass is a great advantage.”

The site in St Helens could create around 50 jobs directly, with hundreds of indirect jobs in total.