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2009/76/2 Archive relating to glass manufacturing and marketing, various materials, made by Pilkington ACI Limited / Australian Window Glass Manufacturers Pty Ltd / Dornbusch Gravuren GMBH, Australia / Germany, c. 1930-1980. Click to enlarge.

Australian Window Glass / Pilkington ACI / Viridian archive collection

  • c.1930-1980
Glass is essential, and impinges on everyone's life through the construction, transport and communication industries. The history of flat glass making in Australia can be attributed to the activities of two companies: Pilkington PLC and ACI International Limited, and prior to their formation, Australian Glass Manufacturers, Australian Window Glass, and more recently Viridian New Glass.

The items in this collection document the making, selling, promotion, and the evolving manufacturing processes for a range of glass products by these leading Australian glass manufacturers, prior to the recent technological changes recently introduced into the Australian glass making industry.

Des Barrett
Science and Industry
June 2009


Object No.


Object Statement

Archive relating to glass manufacturing and marketing, various materials, made by Pilkington ACI Limited / Australian Window Glass Manufacturers Pty Ltd / Dornbusch Gravuren GMBH, Australia / Germany, c. 1930-1980

Physical Description

(1) Better Glass for Better Living (Pilkington ACI Limited): Blue vinyl folder, with an introduction entitled 'Two New Ways To Promote The Magic Of Glass', by Babette Hayes (see also the enclosed sheet 'About Babette Hayes Design' for brief biographical material [accessed 27/4/09]. Promotional text on 'Rialto', and 'Sirocco' glass. There are 3 samples of 'Rialto' glass and 1 sample of 'Sirocco'. Rialto is defined as "a bold dynamic pattern in keeping with a return to more romantic moods", and Sirocco as "a gentle, ever swirling pattern inspired by sand drifts, designed to complement today's interest in natural textures".

(2) Large photographs (framed):
(a) Coloured aerial photograph of Australian Window Glass Manufacturers Pty Ltd., Sydney (1938). Euston Road is located in the foreground;
(b) Viridian Factory Site Plan (drawn 23/1/1960) showing factory site bounded by Euston Road and Maddox Street, Alexandria. The plan shows the layout of the factory, and other firms who were located on the site (scale 1":100');
(c) Black and white line drawing entitled 'Alexandria Basic Manufacturing Process' (n.d.). The drawing shows the principal stages in flat-sheet glass at Alexandria (raw materials - batch mixing - batch silo - furnace - forehearth - rolling - lehr - testing - storage - despatch);
(d) Black and white drawing entitled 'Plan View of ER1 [furnace] Tank'. Plan view of furnace tank illustrating the regenerators on the left and the 3 ports on the right. At the refining end of the furnace, can be seen the canal (constructed in 1976) that connects the Forebay to the Forehearth and then to the lehr (an oven for annealing glass);
Black and white drawing showing a plan for the operation known as the 'firing of the furnace on the left side';
A black and white line drawing showing the elevation of the Regenerators as viewed from the furnace ForeBay end;
Aerial photograph showing the factory (c.1950s - 1960s). The factory boundary is marked by a black border line.

(3) Dornbusch Gravuren GMBH (see: [accessed 13/5/09] swatch books: 1 of 17 illustrating the patterns used on embossing rollers and plates, and printing rollers. The swatch covers show a printer/engraver seated inspecting a pattern on the roller. An example of the pattern can be found inside each swatch.

(4) Framed water colour entitled 'Ilustration of Sheet Glass Manufacture'. The painting is by W.K. Mitchell (1968). Each industrial item in the painting is named, and the process of glass manufacture can be followed by viewing the painting in conjunction with item 3(c) above.

(5) Framed black and white photographs of south and north side of furnace ports (20/7/1966).



  • c.1930-1980



The items in this collection were developed at the Pilkington/Viridian factory at Alexandria, Sydney. The items were used as information and promotional material for company managers and plant engineers, when decisions about the type and function of pattern sheet glass were required by the market.

A timeline of the important manufacturing, technological, and business dates for the Alexandria, Sydney, facility is as follows:

1926: A.W.G. (Australian Window Glass) Co. was established.

1931: A.W.G. commenced the manufacture of figured rolled glass.

1932: Manufacture of sheet glass began, using the Fourcault process (see Production Notes).

1950: Up to 1950, products manufactured included bottles, glass bricks, marbles, tubing, light globes and bent glass.

1956: There were now two furnaces operating at Alexandria (one sheet and one for patterned furnace). There were 700 people employed there at this stage. Glass sizes as small as 6" x 4" were sold, ex. factory.

1972: Pilkington ACI was formed as a company combining the Australian interests of Pilkington Bros., and the flat-glass interests of A.C.I. [A.C.I. = Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd (1939-1982)].

1976: Sheet glass production was terminated at Alexandria. ERI (furnace, see schematic diagram as part of this collection) was modified (smaller) and a canal built to convey molten glass from the modified sheet furnace to the pattern production line. Rolled pattern glass was produced seven days a week during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, at about 50 tonnes per day (see Description notes 3(c) and (d), for detail).

1980: Ribbon widths have been modified over the years from 40" to 72" wide ribbon. Glass output about 100 tonnes per day. Glass types include bronze, grey, clear, and low-iron (solar).

1988: Pilkington (Australia) Ltd took up the option to purchase ACI interest and so became 100% owned by Pilkington PLC.

1996: There was a furnace base failure while producing low-iron glass. The furnace was out-of-order for six weeks.

1999: With a rebuilt furnace, production recommenced on 19 January 2000.

2000: Cold furnace repair including Batch House upgrades, lehr repair, and installation of robot at cold end (for robot image, see CD and enclosed proof sheet of images).

2002: Production split approximately 60% low iron, 40% clear glass.

2003: Low-iron production (for solar energy application) increase to 26,000 tonnes per year.

2004: Total production exceeded 27,000 tonnes per year.

2005: Canal hot repair and antimony free compositional trial.

2006: Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) acquired Pilkington PLC.

2007: Re-introduced and increased use of antimony to improve light transmission of low-iron glass. CSR acquired Pilkington Australasia.

2008: Management of CSR announces closure of Alexandria operation in 2009.

2009: Plant closed (July) after 83 years of continuous operation.

(The curator acknowledges the assistance of Tom Lee, Plant Manager, Viridian New Glass, Alexandria, Sydney, in compiling this timeline).


Credit Line

Gift of Viridian New World Glass, 2009

Acquisition Date

22 September 2009

Cite this Object


Australian Window Glass / Pilkington ACI / Viridian archive collection 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 January 2021, <>


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