Kastrup & Holmegaards Glasværker - A Short History

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Kastrup & Holmegaards Glasværker - A Short History Empty Kastrup & Holmegaards Glasværker - A Short History

Post by Nic March 23rd 2009, 12:16 am

This is the opening to a short article I never got around to finishing on the sometimes complicated history of the famous Danish glassworks. I'm sure I'll eventually get around to completing it:

Holmegaard's Humble Beginnings

On April 20th, 1823, in response to an act being passed to raise the import duty on glass in Denmark, the enterprising Count Christian Conrad Sophus Danneskiold-Samøe applied for permission "at the Holmegaard estate in the parish of Fensmark in the county of Præstø to establish a glass factory for the firing of bottles by means of peat, as there is to be found on the estate a sufficient peat bog." This bog was Holmegaard's Marsh, purchased by the Count in 1801, and it comprised of 1200 acres of land and was one of the largest peat bogs in the country. Unfortunately the count passed away prematurely two months later, before he received a reply to his request. Undaunted by her husband's death Henriette Danneskiold-Samsøe, the Count's widow, continued with the plans for the factory.

The factory was up and running on the 5th of November, 1825, with Christian Wendt - a glassmaker from Hadelands Glassworks in Norway - and his son as the first glassblowers, producing only rough primitive dark-green bottles at a rate of around 70,000 a year. Over the next decade the glassworks expanded its workforce, but because Denmark had no real history of glass production there was no pool of native glassmakers to draw upon so, as with the factory's first glassblowers, the Countess continued to bring in workers from abroad, from as near as Germany and Norway, and as far as Bohemia.

The range of wares produced also expanded, with clear glass added from 1831, tableware from 1832, cut glass from 1835 and painted glass from 1847, although many of the glass painters were quickly poached by Royal Copenhagen for work on their china. By 1847 the factory was making 700,000 bottles and 500,000 clear glass items annually.

A Second Glassworks

After the death of Countess Danneskiold-Samøe in 1843 it fell to her son Christian to take up the reigns of the Holmegaard estate and its steady growth. By 1847 it became clear that the works at Holmegaard had been outgrown and so the decision to expand was taken. Rather than build onto the existing works it was decided to create a second factory closer to Copenhagen to reduce transport costs, as it took a full 48 hours to carefully move the glass from Fensmark to the capital on horse and cart along pot-holed roads, and also to conserve the peat fuel as it was feared that the supply would run dry if further furnaces were added to the original factory. And so Kastrup Glasværk was constructed and the coal-fueled furnaces lit on the 18th of December 1847.

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