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What is a Seaham Multi?

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

In this blog, I’m going to introduce you to the elusive Seaham Multi and explain why it draws visitors from all around the world.

What Exactly are they?

A multi is so-called due to it’s multicoloured markings....

Most of the sea glass you find on UK beaches is either bottle green or clear – however my favourite thing about the clear glass is the range in colour you can find from pure white to deep aquamarine. If you’re very lucky, you can also find the occasional red or blue piece but these are pretty rare. It’s all down to the original source of the glass and how common it is

and obviously most of the green and clear pieces come from old bottles which are far more prevalent on UK beaches than anything else. The Seaham Multi is pretty unique to the area and I would say it is one of the only beaches in the world where you can hope to find such a rare thing of beauty.

Where Does Seaham Glass Originate From?

Between 1850 and 1921 Seaham was home to the Londonderry Bottleworks, one of the biggest producers of glass bottles in Europe. Unfortunately, at the end of each working day, the waste glass was tossed into the ocean without a care for where it would end up. This is the reason why most of the Seaham glass is either green or white due to the bottles, but it also explains why a lot of it is so smooth and pebble-like because it is literally over 100 years old. It still blows my mind to this day how long each piece has tumbled around in the North Sea and how much of it is lying around on the beach after each tide. The sheer volume of glass that must have been tipped into the sea just at the small location in the space of 75 years is incredible really.

This doesn’t explain the multis though…. and I’ve read a few different theories about the origins of the multicoloured pieces one of which is explained by the existence of the Hartley Wood company in Sunderland. This company specialised in stained glass and multicoloured art glass and were based on the banks of the River Wear. Now I can’t say that they also put their waste glass into the river, which then flowed out to the sea but it is one possible explanation as to how it ended up being washed up at Seaham.

My Favourite Piece

I will never forget the excitement I felt the first time I found a multi at Seaham. They are really difficult to spot actually, especially in poor light, and it was a pretty miserable and wet day when I found mine. It’s that feeling though, when you hold it up to the sky and it reveals itself, you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing, they are so beautiful. I did some research into my piece and found a lot of similarities between the pattern on the piece and this vase, manufactured by Hartley Wood in Sunderland between 1930 and 1950, isn’t it phenomenal?

I’ve kept this piece in a jar for a couple of years now where I’ve often admired it, however, now it’s on its way to a jewellery maker to be made into a pendant so I’ll show you how it looks when it’s been immortalised.

What Else can you find at Seaham?

If you ever get the chance to go to Seaham, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. My tips would be to go to the beach as the tide is going out and follow it out, checking out what it’s left behind as you do so. Occasionally I’ve been to Seaham and the beach has been pretty sandy but I’ve still managed to find lots, if it’s like this I just find a stony spot nearer the shore and start digging (don’t forget your trowel to save your fingernails). When you’re looking for glass, keep a look out for milk glass which is opaque glass in pastel shades of yellow, mint green and light blue, safety glass which has wire running through it, codd marbles which are spherical marbles (sometimes multicoloured if you’re lucky enough) and pirate glass which is super hard to spot because it’s black and looks like a pebble until you hold it up to the light and you can see the faintest of light shining through it and revealing its true colour.

For more information check out this link Hunting for Seaham Sea Glass - This is Durham

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