In Pictures: The Night Watchman At Pilkington Glass


Artist Kevin Casey has been documenting the remains and archives of the former-Pilkington Glass HQ in St Helens, whilst moonlighting as an on-site security guard. We asked him to select his favourite shots taken (so far) of this glorious, Grade II-listed glass factory

Pictured, above: View from the old canteen, looking out towards the Tower 

“This shows the dereliction and decay of the main canteen on site. The original building was completed in 1963, and parts of it are still working office spaces for the NHS, game designers, local businesses and charities; but most of it is an artefact of a bygone era. The executives used to have their own catering service and separate menu on the 12th floor of the Tower complex, just like Mad Men.”


Above: Interior view of the old canteen

“From a technical standpoint, this is one of the few areas of the building that offers any light. There is no electricity and the majority of the building is boarded up to prevent vandalism and trespassers. Aesthetically, it seems almost like a film set from a sci-fi movie. There appears to be a battle going on between the natural plant life and the manmade concrete structures.”


Above: Old canteen light-switch

“This basic, quite mundane feature gives an insight to the variety of rooms, facilitiesand job roles within the building (sticky labels). The dirt, grease and fingerprints show not only signs of abandonment, but also give an insight into how many people must’ve used it over the years.”


Above: Recovered transparency print (Lady with Gun)

“On my nightly walks throughout the site, I’ve discovered many archive items in sub-basements, wheelie bins, and abandoned filing cabinets. This image is a product advertising/catalogue transparency of a female bank clerk being threatened by a gunman.  The image is supposed to display the safety of Pilkingtons ‘Tough Glass’ for banks and security firms that can withstand even an armed robbery.”


Above: Recovered transparency print (Wrecking Ball on Glass Door)  

“This transparency print shows the research and testing lab. It gives an insight to the practises undergone to test the durability of different glass and the surrounding test floor areas.”


Above: Sofa under torn wrapping with ’80s print

“These objects are situated in a small room which appears to have once been a green/common space. It’s filled with various sofas on display from a furniture wholesaler, set against the backdrop of a variety of glass advertising campaign framed prints.  It’s a juxtaposition of time warps and tastes.”


Above: Glass mural and staircase

“This is the main office Tower reception area. The glass panel, metallic box staircase , marble floor and large glass mural gives an insight to the building’s design and decor upon its completion. The mural is a wonderful 37ft x 9ft abstract relief panel of stained, fused glass by the artist Avinash Chandra (1931-1991), and it stretches across the entire entrance wall.”


Above: Inside of glass mural

“This view point is from inside the very tight upper platform/scaffold of the glass mural. It was only possible to photograph the details of the glass work and light bulbs with a wide-angle lens, with one foot balancing on a ladder, the other on the fragile scaffold. Once inside, it is difficult to move in any direction. It is very difficult to photograph and looks near impossible to change the light bulbs: how did they do it?”


Above: Workshop wall

“Here we see the evidence of years of notes, measurements, phone numbers, and job lists. The wall has been used as a note pad by the workshop employees. The evidence and markings of a landline telephone suggest that the wall it was attached to must have been the nearest surface to make a quick note.”


Above: Computer monitor and motivational poster

“This image is taken in another workshop space: I love the areas of decay on the wall,floor, radiator and abandoned glass panels. This decay is also reflected in the objects in the foreground: a disused and dated computer monitor and motivational business poster.”


Above: Casey’s self-portrait as an on-site night watchman at Pilkingtons

As told to Laura Robertson

This body of work is part of Kevin Casey’s ongoing documentation of Pilkington Glass HQ (currently Alexandra Business Park) in St Helens. Aiming towards a digital archive, publication and exhibition that relates to the historical/current impact and legacy of the Pilkington Empire, Casey is investigating what contributed to its fall from grace, discover its remains, and how the site will fare in the future

Are you an ex-Pilkington Glass worker, or local resident who has a history or connection to Pilkingtons? Kevin Casey would like to hear from you!  Casey will be photographing and interviewing people to record their stories; contact the artist via email info[at] or via Twitter @info_lbm

Posted on 28/02/2017 by thedoublenegative