House of Waterford Crystal Timeline
1783The Waterford Crystal story first begins in 1783 when George and William Penrose founded their crystal manufacturing business in the busy port of Waterford. They seized on the opportunity to produce “plain and cut flint glass, useful and ornamental” in their factory, which was situated in the heart of Waterford city. It was the enterprise and skill of these founders and their successors, which had such an impact for generations to come on the appreciation of glass, which is stronger today than when they began two centuries ago. They employed 50 –70 people who were led by renowned glassmaker John Hill from Stourbridge in England. He brought with him experienced glassmakers and is given credit for setting up the Waterford Glass.
1799When in 1799, William Penrose decided to sell, Gatchell seized the opportunity along with other local families, Ramsey and Barcroft, to purchase the company and become new proprietors. " Ramsey, Gatchell and Barcroft respectively inform their friends and the public that they have purchased the establishment of the Waterford Flint Glass Manufactory from George and William Penrose and have opened a shop on the quay in said concern where they intend to be supplied with an extensive assortment of plain and ornamental glassware and hope that by their attention, moderate prices and the quality of their glass, to merit the approbation of their customers."
1823However, before dying in 1823, Gatchell had made Waterford Glass once again a partnership with his brothers James and Samuel and son-in-law Joseph Walpole. As set out by the terms of his will, Jonathon's son George was to come into the business in 1835, the year of his 21st birthday. Further developments led to George Gatchell making employee George Saunders a partner in the business
1850By 1850 Saunders had left and George Gatchell was beginning to despair about the future. In a letter to a relative he wrote ''must now either get a partner with adequate capital, sell or stop work finally". He also referred to the company losing money, and as a final gesture, George sent a magnificent Waterford entry to the Great Exhibition of 1851, in the aptly named Crystal Palace in London. In a letter to his cousin Jonathan an 1851 the excessive taxation and lack of capital had taken its toll on the business, as he had written. "I may mention that I have quite concluded on giving up the business as soon as I possibly can''. During its relatively short life of sixtyeight years, Waterford glass prospered and enjoyed an unequalled reputation.
1947In 1947, white Europe was still an ruins after the Second World War; a small factory was set up in Ballytruckle, a suburb of Waterford, not far from the site of the original Penrose glasshouse. From very humble beginnings the business grew, making it necessary to move to a larger site in Johnstown, nearer the city centre. Waterford Crystal today has very strong links with its illustrious predecessor. In 1947, apprentices were initially trained by immigrant craftsmen, this time from the European mainland. Miroslav Havel was one such Master Craftsman, who during his 41 years of dedicated service with Waterford Crystal created such famous cuts as Lismore.
1980Our sculpting department was established during the Eighties to create original pieces sculpted from blocks of crystal, which was later expanded to include items that became a huge success among our collectors. These include pieces such as the Rearing Horse and Labrador from our Animal Kingdom collection together with the development of unique items for the Disney collection. We recognized at the beginning of the Nineties that there were thousands of visitors arriving at the doors of our factory to see Waterford crystal being made. To facilitate our visitors, we designed the tour so that visitors could see the process close up and a decision was made to establish a Visitor Centre and our visitor
1997In 1997, the Visitor Centre was expanded to include our extensive Retail Gallery, which hosted the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world. In addition, the Centre was a showcase for other brands in our Group Gift Portfolio, which included, Wedgwood Ceramics, Rosenthal Ceramics, Waterford Writing Instruments, Seahorse Clothing and an extensive Craft and Jewellery collection.
2000To celebrate the dawning of a new Millennium, Waterford Crystal was commissioned to create a centrepiece for the countdown to 2000 in Times Square, New York. At ll:59pm the Millennium ball was lowered to the countdown of the last remaining seconds of the year. Celebrations at New Year's Eve in Times Square began as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year's made its first descent in Times Square. The original Ball was made of iron and wood, weighed 700 pounds, was 5 feet in diameter and had 100 light bulbs. The Ball was lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, due to the wartime 'dim-out' of all lights in New York City.
2009During the difficult financial crisis in 2008, the Waterford Wedgwood Group and associated companies were unable to secure additional financial revenue to maintain the operation of their global business. On 30th January 2009, it was announced that Waterford Crystal was in receivership. In February 2009 it was confirmed that KPS Capital, a US based equity firm were to purchase some overseas assets and businesses of the Waterford Wedgwood Group.
2010In January 2010 WWRD Group Holdings Limited, the leading luxury goods group which owns and operates the Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton brands, announced that it had signed an agreement with Waterford City Council to open a brand new Waterford Crystal manufacturing facility and retail outlet in the very heart of Waterford. The new Manufacturing Facility melts down 750 tonnes of crystal and produces 45,000 pieces each year using traditional manufacturing techniques. The facility offers guided tours of the manufacturing process to all of our visitors both International and domestic. Since it's opening in June 2010, over 800,000 people have visited the home of Waterford Crystal.
2015In July 2015 Fiskars Corporation (Fiskars), a leading global supplier of consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors, acquired the WWRD group of companies and its portfolio of iconic luxury home and lifestyle brands, which include Waterford, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Royal Albert and Rogaška. Fiskars continues executing its growth strategy and becomes a leading global branded consumer goods company in the luxury and premium home and lifestyle products market, with a clear focus on tabletop, giftware and interior décor. For Fiskars Living business, the WWRD acquisition creates a strong presence in the U.S., and will further enhance Fiskars’ market position in Europe and Asia-Pacific.