The first factories on the site were built in 1825 on the banks of the river Meuse near Liege. The nearby coal mines provided coal for the ovens where the crystal was made and the river was used to transport the glassware to the customer.
With the huge demand from the European bourgeoisie, the site produced elaborately worked crystal, paperweights and goblets, and rapidly expanded into a sizable complex of factories, workshops and worker’s homes. The factory also provided a school and a shop, etc.
By 1900 it had become a major international company with a huge and ever-changing product range and used factories throughout the area to produce a very diverse range of wares. At its peak (1900-14) VSL production rose to a peak of 160,000 items per day, (90% exported) with over 5000 workers. In the ‘80s the company nearly became bankrupt until it was saved by the Belgian Government who bought much of the stock.
The old factories that we visited on the site have not been used in a very long time and demolition unfortunately is ongoing. Julia visited here in 2010 during the Abandoned? Project journey.