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Langham Glass was established in 1979 by Master Glassmaker Paul Miller, with his aim to make modern glass by hand to the highest level of craftsmanship. Paul’s reputation within the industry with his fellowship to the Royal Society of Arts.
Langham Glass was set up as a tourist attraction in the small village of Langham, hence the name. Many thousands of people walked through the doors until Langham Glass felt there was a need to move premises, and so in 2005 we moved to Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham. The site gave us a larger work area, and this in turn lead to further work within the corporate market.
In 2013, Langham Glass once again relocated into a more central position, within the popular market town of Fakenham. This new site has meant we have been able to expand our restaurant and gift shop, giving us the capacity to be able to stock made in Britain products, alongside our own crystal which is all made on site. We are also able to welcome our sister company, 741 Awards, which now has a showroom within our gift shop, showcasing their high quality crystal awards and trophies.
Langham Glass descends from King’s Lynn Glass, which was set up by Ronnie Stennet-Wilson and which Paul Miller joined as a young man. Paul learned his trade from top European glassmakers brought in to start the company, and became a Master Glassmaker at the age of 21. Later, Wedgwood bought King’s Lynn Glass, and during this time, Paul designed and developed many of the animals and paperweights which are sought after by collectors today. Looking towards the future, Paul, together with his wife Sue, planned to set up their own glassmaking business.
After nearly a year of searching for suitable premises, in 1979 Langham Glass was born in the village of Langham in barn buildings. The Great Barn was chosen for the glasshouse for it’s height, and became the centre of the complex. A steel gallery was installed around the glasshouse, to enable visitors to move along and see different pieces being made by different glassmakers. The object was, and still is, to produce the finest handmade crystal possible. Gradually Langham Glass has established an identity and reputation for which we are well known.
The move to Tattersett Business Park allowed visitors to get much closer to the glassmaking. The focus was also put onto families and children, and our family room offered all ages the chance to create their own masterpiece, be it a painted tumbler or a glass mosaic tile. We also began glass hand casts which capture a child’s handprint as a special memento.
After 35 years, Langham Glass is now centrally located in a popular town, and we hope we are more accessible to our visitors. Our team of glassmakers continue to use traditional methods to create high quality handmade crystal.
Glass is made mainly from sand and small quantities of other chemicals to assist the melting process, and give a high quality clear final product. The mix is pelletised to make it dust free and easy to use, and is known as batch. Batch is loaded into the furnace on a daily basis, and melted by increasing the heat to 1350ºC. Once melted, the temperature is reduced to 1100ºC and the glass is ready to use.
Glassmaking is lead by the master glassmaker and each member of the team has a specific role to perform. The process begins with bit gathering, the gathering of the right amount of glass from the furnace onto the end of the gathering iron. Bit gathering and mould holding are the first jobs a new apprentice will learn.
The iron is then handed to the master. He rolls it into a basic shape on the marver, a solid slab of steel. He then blows into the iron, sealing the end of the iron with his thumb. The air expands with the heat, forcing a bubble into the glass.
The glass in the furnaces is pure, colourless crystal. Colour is added after the glass has been gathered. Specially produced coloured glass which comes in powder, granule or rod form is used. The use and placement of colour is one of the most technical aspects of glassmaking.
Every piece of glass must go through the annealing process. This is a slow, controlled cooling which reduces the stresses in the glass, which, if left, can result in shattering. Once the annealing is complete, the glass goes through to the finishing area, where the sharp glass left from where the glass was attached to the iron is smoothed and polished. Nearly all of our glass is then stamped ‘Langham, England’. The glass is then quality checked and graded, and the very finest pieces are hand signed Paul Miller.