IT was once the most important factory of its type in the country and was the sole provider of glass in Scotland for more than three decades.

Now a major exhibition has been launched showcasing the products manufactured at the renowned Dumbarton glassworks for the first time.

Visitors to the free exhibition will learn of the prominent position of Dumbarton in the history of Scottish and British glass manufacture and the rise and fall of the Glassworks Company and its directors. Many of the artefacts have been donated by members of the Dixon and Christie families who owned the plant until its demise in 1850.

Dumbarton Glassworks was established in 1777.

In the years before Queen Victoria’s succession in in 1837, it produced 92 per cent of all approved glass in Scotland and more than a third in England.

At its height, the glassworks owned, five coal works, four tramways, two structures to help moor vessels, two bottle works, a brewery, a farm and seven sailing vessels.

The exhibition, which is on at Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery until May 5, includes information on the Dixon family, who were the most prominent owners of the glassworks from 1817 until 1832. James Christie, the final owner of the works, bought the company in 1838 and operated it until its closure in 1850.

Kathleen O’Neil, heritage team leader, said: “West Dunbartonshire is well known for its shipbuilding past and links to industry including Singer sewing machines but perhaps not so well known is the fact that at one point Dumbarton was a key player in British glass-making.”