The furnaces at Mdina Glass were first fired up in 1968 with production commencing in June of that year. Two British men, Eric Dobson and Michael Harris, moved to Malta to fulfil their dream of establishing a glass making company and, in doing so, formed the first producer of handmade glassware on the islands.
The workshop, housed to this day in a converted ex-RAF hangar, soon became a popular destination for visitors wishing to see the craft in practice… and remains so even now with packed coaches and open top tour buses stopping by regularly throughout the year.
Harris was soon joined on the workshop floor by experienced glassmakers like father and son team Vicente and Ettore Boffo as well as local trainees. One such trainee to join a few months after Mdina Glass began was Joseph Said, who progressed rapidly, eventually became the company’s first Maltese production manager by 1975.
Although Harris left Malta in 1972, to start his own studio, Dobson remained at the helm until 1985. During Dobson’s tenure the glass making personnel and range of products grew and the production facilities increased to meet production demands. With a small domestic market, the developing tourism sector - and trade exports - were crucial to the success of Mdina Glass.
When Dobson finally decided to relinquish control of the company, Joseph Said took over ownership and reinvigorated Mdina Glass. He introduced new techniques to expand the portfolio and invested in better production facilities and retail area as well as raw glass making materials.
From the late 90s Mdina Glass became a true family business as Said’s four children (Nevise, Olivia, Pamela and Alan) joined in various roles.
The start of the new millennium saw a dramatic change in direction for the glass making firm as product development broadened to appeal to the local and overseas home décor market while still appealing to the tourism sector. This move would inspire the expansion of glassware to include many functional items including table and kitchen accessories, lighting, scented candleholders and lanterns.
Mdina Glass also started to open its own retail outlets from the early 2000s onwards in prime locations popular with Maltese shoppers and tourists alike.
A number of distinguished guests have been welcomed to the glassmaking premises including Princess Anne, Jimmy Carter, prominent Maltese politicians and Prime Ministers and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The history of Mdina Glass is covered in the book ‘Legacy’, available here.