The Glass Tax

The Glass tax was introduced as a window tax in 1696, in the reign of William III. In 1745 the Glass Excise tax was introduced in the reign of George II, to tax all glass making including the finest flint glass made in Stourbridge. It lasted for 100 years.

1835 a Commission of enquiry into the effects of the unfair tax was held. Within a year in 1845, the Glass Excise Tax was repealed. It gave a huge impetus to the industry, in time to showcase our glassmaking skills at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition.  The Crystal Palace was glazed with over 400tonnes of plate glass made by Chances Glassworks in Oldbury; and Follet Ostler Glassworks of Broad Street, Birmingham constructed a huge crystal fountain, weighing 4 tonnes, as a centrepiece of the exhibition.

In 1835, the DUTY PAID in the UK on glass production amounted to £748k; equivalent £75m today. Assuming an average rate of 20% as todays VAT, the industry value would be over £400m. This is a good indicator of the size of the glass industry whose success and wealth were based upon the skill ingenuity, labour and strength of our glassmakers.

Published by Kate Round

My name is Dr Kate Round; I am an outreach presenter and tour guide for Dudley Museum Service In my previous life, I was a research chemist so understand the chemistry of glass having worked on the synthesis of ‘zeolites’ (silica based materials) with my work published in International Journals. I have always lived in the Black Country and have a strong industrial family heritage.

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