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of Torrington, North Devon
The story began in the 1920s, at the beautiful Dartington Hall when a wealthy American heiress and her Yorkshireman husband, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst, founded the Dartington Hall Trust.
Based at Dartington, near Totnes, South Devon, their original vision was to assist the economic regeneration of rural areas through a combination of enterprises spanning business, education, the arts and country crafts.
The Dartington Hall Trust soon became a multi-faceted concern with a diverse range of interests from cheese making, carpentry, farming, forestry and education through to the conducting of research into rural communities.
During the early 1960's, it became evident to the Trust, that to the north of the county there was an ever-increasing demand for new industry due to population migration to the cities. This depopulation and the lack of employment for young people were the basis from which the idea of a glass-making factory evolved.
In order to provide the expertise required for this enterprising idea, the Trust recruited the first Managing Director, Eskil Vilhemson, from a Swedish Glass manufacturer, who in turn recruited a team of Scandinavian glass blowers and brought them to Devon. The factory was officially opened in June 1967, when it employed just 35 people.
Over the following years, glass blowing skills were taught to English craftsmen, working originally to Scandinavian designs and later to the work of British designers. Many of the original glass blowers remained in Torrington and have been a key strength over the years in developing Dartington Crystal into the leading name in English crystal.
Dartington now operates independently of the Trust.