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Saturday, 27 November 2010


It’s a year exactly since I started writing this blog, so I thought I’d celebrate with a celebration.

My great great uncle William Pilkington was a son of one of the founders of the Pilkington Brothers’ Glassworks in St Helens, Lancashire. It was William’s technical skill and innovation which laid the foundations for the firm’s later international supremacy. His hands-on grasp of the business of glass-making earned him the respect of his 14,000 workers, who used to say, “Mr Windle can do owt.”

William Windle Pilkington (1839-1914)

His wife was from an altogether more modest background. Louisa Salter was the daughter of a Baptist minister in Leamington. The stained-glass windows of Rev WA Salter’s chapel had been donated by William’s aunt Matilda Pilkington, who worshipped at the chapel, in memory of her sister Ann, who died during the building of the chapel. It may well be that this is how William and Louisa met.

They married on 9th June 1867, in her father’s church, in a ceremony conducted by her father and her uncle Joseph Angus, on a fine summer’s day with the sunlight streaming through those memorial windows. We know all this from the report the following week in the local newspaper, the Leamington Spa Courier, which also highlights the very different approaches of the two families being united by the wedding.

On Wednesday afternoon the children attending the Clarendon Street British School were regaled at tea, on the occasion of the marriage of Miss Louisa Salter, second daughter of the Rev T.T. [sic] Salter to Mr W.W. Pilkington, of Windle Hall, St Helens, Lancashire. By the courtesy of the editor of the St Helens Standard we are informed that the rejoicings in that industrial town, with which the bridegroom is connected, were of the most enthusiastic character. Bells peeled forth, cannon boomed, and the rattle of small arms – not to mention the feasting of 1000 of Messrs Pilkingtons’ work people in the Volunteer Hall. We understand that Miss Pilkington, of Rivington Villa, is Aunt to the bridegroom. The marriage, which took place at Clarendon Chapel, was distinguished by an unostentatious plainness and propriety.

Children’s tea party and workers’ feast! Propriety and cannon fire! What a rich celebration of the start of their long and happy marriage.

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