On our recent holiday to North Devon, we spent a rainy morning at the Dartington Crystal Visitor Centre and we also did the factory tour. My son had been learning about how glass was made at school, so seeing it happen before his very eyes was high on his list of things he wanted to do on holiday.
We set the satnav for the Dartington Crystal factory in Torrington and arrived early in the day. Glass production starts very early in the morning, so early that the glass blowers break for their lunch mid morning, which closes down the factory tour. Nevertheless there’s plenty to do at Dartington Crystal besides the factory tour.
We arrived to find a large car park with plenty of parking. We walked around the building to the visitor centre and paid for our tickets. You can buy them online before your visit and save a few pounds if you want. I paid £9 per adult ticket (£7 in advance) and children under 16 go free.
We were warned the factory workers would be breaking for lunch in half an hour, so we began the factory tour. You can linger as long as you want in the factory, it’s very informative with the whole process from the glass making process to blowing and finishing the glass all explained in simple terms.
It’s very warm in the factory and all the glass workers wear shorts and t-shirts. Each has his own job to do; a small part of the process and it’s really interesting (and almost relaxing) to watch. They take a molten lump of glass out of the furnace and slowly transform it into something beautiful.
The tour took us around half an hour, mostly because the boy was getting too hot and wanted to get outside. I could have stayed for longer watching these skilled craftsmen at work.
The factory tour ends with you back in the visitors centre. There we decided we wanted to try our hands at some glass painting, which cost us just £6. We also spent some time reading about the history of the Dartington Crystal factory and watching a film. There are lots of things of interest if you want to know more about glass making.
Once we’d enjoyed all that the visitor centre had to offer, there is a large outlet where you can find some lovely glassware to take home. There are a few other outlet stores to explore too. I did end up spending an absolute fortune on really gorgeous things. I have no regrets.
If you are planning on visiting, you can save a few pounds by booking your tickets in advance online. You can also book in for creative sessions; like glass hand casting for kids (which was fully booked when we visited which was a shame). You can also try your hand at glass blowing or jewellery making. There are lots to see and do if you plan ahead and book the things you’d like to try, otherwise you might be disappointed.
I really liked that children go free. I feel my son learned quite a few things about glass making and blowing that he didn’t know before. It’s always good to see how things actually work rather than just reading about it and imagining the process. He really enjoyed the glass painting, we both did. There were a few other activities for creative kids too. I’d say it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area. This was my second visit and I’d happily go back again.
For more information about visiting Dartington Crystal Visitor Centre visit their website.
We paid for our visit in full.