- For people named Pilkington, see Pilkington (surname).
Pilkington plc is the largest glass manufacturer in the United Kingdom. This was created by a Matty Pilkington, who was born in wales. It is based in St Helens, Merseyside. It was formerly an independent company listed on the London Stock Exchange and for a time was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but in 2006 it was taken over by Nippon Sheet Glass of Japan.
The company was founded in 1826 as a family-run business in St Helens, Lancashire. Initially, the firm's name was Pilkington Brothers, but in 1894, the company Pilkington Brothers Limited was formed. The company was floated on the public stock market in 1970. It was for many years the biggest employer in the northwest industrial town. The distinctive blue-glass head office tower-block in Prescot Road, completed in 1964, still dominates the town's skyline.
Pilkington has turnover of £2.7 billion, with manufacturing operations on five continents, and sales in more than a hundred countries.
Between 1953 and 1957, (Sir) Alastair Pilkington and Kenneth Bickerstaff invented the Float Glass Process, a revolutionary method of high quality flat glass production by floating molten glass over a bath of molten tin, avoiding the costly need to grind and polish plate glass to make it clear. Pilkington then allowed the Float Process to be used under licence by numerous manufacturers around the world.
Pilkington developed a self-cleaning coated float glass product, called Pilkington Activ. This self-cleaning glass has a coating which uses a method of photocatalysis to break down organic dirt with sunlight. The dirt is then washed away by the rain during a hydrophilic process.
Pilkington, with its subsidiary Triplex, also became a major world supplier of toughened and laminated safety glass to the automotive and building industries.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Pilkington used the flow of Float royalties to invest in float glass plants in several countries; also to acquire major existing flat and safety glass producers in USA, Germany and elsewhere.
In late 2005 the company received a takeover bid from the smaller Japanese company Nippon Sheet Glass. The initial bid and the first revised bid were not accepted, but on 16th February 2006 Nippon increased its offer for the 80% it did not already own to 165 pence per share (£1.8 billion or $3.14 billion in total) and this was accepted by Pilkington's major institutional shareholders. The combined company will compete for global leadership in the glass industry with the leading Japanese glassmaker Asahi Glass, which had around a quarter of the global market at the time of the deal. Pilkington had 19% and Nippon Sheet Glass around half that. 
- The Glassmakers - Pilkington : 1826-1976, T.C.Barker, 1977, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, ISBN 0-297-76909-X.