Looking at the locations of Valmiera Glass Group companies around the world, we often do not think of why they are there in that particular city. Interestingly, the choices of the plant locations have been well-considered and reasonable and not based on, so to say, Columbus’ wish to discover new horizons.
A comparatively small town in the UK with a population of about 10 thousand, Sherborne had the roots of its name already in around the 5th-6th century, when the Saxons reigned and lived there. The town is situated on the River Yeo, and its name comes from the Saxon name “scir burne”, a name meaning "clear stream". Initially, there was a water mill for grain on the river bank, but in the mid-18th century John Sharrer bought it and adjusted it to manufacturing silk. As technologies developed, silk was cast with the help of water easing people’s daily work. The Westbury Mill kept manufacturing silk till the Second World War, but after that glass fibre become one of the raw materials for weaving. In the years after, the plant was renamed Marglass; in 1962, after it was sold, it was named P-D Interglass Technologies Ltd., and in 2013 we acquired it and named it Valmiera Glass UK Ltd.
If the location of the Valmiera Glass Group company in Sherborne is, to some extent, related to the history and the development from silk to glass fiber, the newest plant of the Group, P-D Valmiera Glass USA Corp., in Dublin, US, was built based on economic and geographic considerations. The town got its name in early 19th century in honour of the ancestoral home of a merchant’s wife in Dublin, Ireland. Not only the name, but also the symbols and traditions of the town are closely knit with Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated in Dublin, for as long as six weeks, and the green shamrock is the central element in its coat of arms. There is even the Leprechaun Car Wash in town. In recent years, Dublin has become an industrial and manufacturing center in Laurens County. More and more companies choose to develop their industrial operations here, naming as advantages the proximity to Interstate 16, Savannah Harbor, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, and the positive attitude and tax incentives for new plants.
The Group’s oldest company, Valmieras stikla šķiedra JSC, was located in the city of Valmiera more than 50 years ago because of the sand pits. Sand, initially thought to be suited for glass making, was found near the city. Later it was realized that the sand is better suited for clay bricks, but the location of the plant was not changed. Looking at the history of Valmiera, the origin of its name lies in several legends. One of them relates to the name of the Danish King Valdemar II, who reigned the city around 1221. Over time, the name has changed several times, being called Wolmaria and Wolmar in German times, until it acquired the current name of Valmiera.
Photo: The Sherborne plant around 1947.