John McDougall (20th June 2017)

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Members and friends of the group recently visited Dartington Crystal factory in Torrington. It is the only working handmade crystal factory remaining in the UK. In the visitor centre there are display cases showing the timeline of nearly 50 years of Dartington Glass, from its start in Dartington up to date.  There is also a very informative short video of the beginnings of crystal making up to the move to Torrington.  On the start of the 'go - as - you - please'  tour of the factory there is an engraver to watch.  We saw him setting up to engrave a horse's head using a very light touch of the stylus.  The display of engraved glass is impressive.  Then we went on to the factory floor where we saw the molten glass drawn from the furnace, blown into moulds, teased out to form a stem and finally a fresh blob of molten glass added to form the foot of the drinking glass.  Each one took less than two minutes, I reckon.  Each person has their own task in the production we saw and they change every two hours to another number.  Various styles of glass were being made at the same time by different teams.  A lot of the staff have spent most of their working lives in this industry.  The furnaces to make the glass are on all the time 24/7.  After the glass has been annealing - allowing it to cool slowly - it is checked.  Flawed glass goes back in to the furnace.  Perfect specimens get  'named' by sand blasting - even 'M & S' was one of the names available.  Then packed up for storage and delivery or for sale in the shop.  Dartington Crystal also own Royal Brierley Crystal and Caithness Glass.  All of these brands are available in the shop, at discounted prices.  It was a wonderful tour.

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