Ancoats Dispensary Trust today launched the Glory of Glass exhibition at the MERCi Bridge 5 Mill in Ancoats as part of our contribution to the Manchester Histories Festival 2016. Linda Carver, the Trust’s very own Coordinator, held an interview with That’s Manchester TV to celebrate.
Watch the interview below! Or read the transcript at the bottom of the page.
Thatís Manchester TV Interview Transcript
So what is the Glory of Glass exhibition about?
It’s about the industry that began in Ancoats around 1827 that not a lot of people know about. The Manchester Histories Festival has given the Ancoats Dispensary Trust the opportunity to show this history. Ancoats glass, made in the 1800s, early 19th and 20th century, has now become an art form and is one of the creative industries that we are really interested in perhaps for the Ancoats Dispensary when it’s finally been restored. Because we at the Ancoats Dispensary Trust don’t have a building to work from this, this is a fantastic opportunity to have community engagement with the people of Ancoats and the people of Manchester. One of our big supporters was Professor John Pickstone who actually began the Manchester Histories Festival, so what a marvelous opportunity he has given us, and other community groups as well, to share what they know about their area that perhaps people who live in the same area don’t know anything about. So it’s been an amazing opportunity.
How exciting was it to learn about this history of glassmaking right on our doorstep?
I couldn’t believe it that I stumbled across this amazing industry, I couldn’t believe that there were so many here in this small area – Ancoats is only a small part of Manchester and still is. But out of the whole of Manchester, and out of the whole country, forty-seven glass houses were in Ancoats. We found a hidden gem because nobody knew anything about it. We didn’t know about any of the glassmaking families who came here or about the intermarrying that happened – and then other companies started that were related to each other with ideal conditions because of the canals. Even ‘shut your gob’, which is a real Manchester expression, comes from the glassmaking period when the ‘gob’ was the molten glass, and when the glassblowers were blowing the glass their cheeks used to swell up and people used to say ‘shut your gob’ because their cheeks would expand and expand. It was usually people with large mouths – and somehow that got interpreted into that sort of slang ‘oh, shut your gob!’
How much work and research went into putting the whole exhibit together?
An enormous amount of work! We are hoping to extend the exhibition because we feel that with all the work that has gone into it for it be only seen for four days that it’s not enough. We may have the opportunity to leave the exhibition here and have it on for a bit longer. Once people find out about it, ‘I didn’t know they made glass in Ancoats’, go and have a look and see for yourself! Most of the work has been the editing of the information.
What was the most interesting fact or statistic about glass that you found during your research?
It’s probably something about the word ‘codswallop’. I had no idea that it’s a type of bottle which has a second mechanism in it, almost like a marble, that when you tip it upside down it doesn’t leak. It was invented in something like 1866 by Hiram Codd, and there was a cheap beer at the time called wallop. People used to put the two together - ‘what a load of old codswallop!’
There’s an exciting fact about Charlie Chaplin - could you tell us a little about that?
When I went to the archives at the University of Salford to look up information about the Butterworth family, and I don’t know how true this is, it was there in the documents that Charlie Chaplin came to Manchester in the early twenties and worked at Butterworths for a short period of time in the glassworks. He may have worked in the glassworks or may have just visited but when he visited he did a routine and a dance on one of the furnaces just before he joined the Fred Karno company and went back to America. How true that is I don’t know! But the idea that Charlie Chaplin was in a glassmaking factory just up the road!