This is my favorite sea glass beach in the world. It's not just the quantity of sea glass here, but the quality... and the multis!
Seaham - formerly known as "Seaham Harbour" - is a small town on the North Sea coast in County Durham. You will find it just to the south of Sunderland and east of Durham.
I have visited many beaches all over the world and, apart from Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Seaham has the most plentiful supply by a long way.
I'm used to picking up every piece of sea glass I can find, but at Seaham I soon start to leave the smaller pieces and concentrate on the better stuff instead.
As always, clear and green glass is the most common but I have also found yellow, blue, aqua, turquoise, red and some mixed colors, also known as "multis".
There is lots of glass in plain sight, but here's my favorite trick; find a pile of shingle, take of the top layer and reveal dozens of glass shards underneath. These will often be small, but you will also find larger pieces and some rare colors too.
Where does Seaham sea glass come from?
For many years, Seaham boasted the largest glass-bottle works in Britain.
By 1872, John Candlish's Londonderry Bottle Company had six glasshouses at Seaham. At the end of the day, any discarded and waste glass was dumped into the North Sea.
After many years of "surf tumbling" the glass is washed up on Seaham beaches with every tide. Some of the glass is more than a hundred years old, polished smooth by Mother Nature.
Londonderry Bottleworks produced up to 20,000 hand-blown bottles each day and S.S. Oakwell known as the "bottleboat" would leave Seaham harbour to deliver its cargo to warehouses in Rotherhithe, returning via Antwerp with silver sand.
On 28th March 1917, the vessel sank after hitting a German mine at Robin Hood's Bay, claiming four lives. S.S. Oakwell had been transporting a cargo of empty glass gin bottles embossed with H & A Gilbey to London.
The factory itself was put out of business in 1921 by competition from more efficient continental producers.
Videos of Seaham
Here are some of the sights and sounds from our sea glass hunting trips to Seaham.
Photos of Seaham sea glass
Getting to Seaham
There is a train station in the town and good public transport links, but the easiest way to travel to Seaham - especially during winter months - is by car.
I have found that Seaham Hall Beach is a great spot with plenty of parking and, more importantly, sea glass! If you're using GPS, the post code is: SR7 7AD.
These steps take you from the car park down to the beach. This isn't a problem on the way down, but after a few hours of stooping to pick up beach treasure they can be quite a challenge!
This really is the perfect sea glass beach. The bottleworks provided a great source of glass for many years and the tide moves in and out a long way, leaving plenty of pebbles and glass on the beach each time.
Seaham Waves Jewelry
Most collectors display their sea glass in vases or jars, but Gavin Hardy has made a fantastic business from his findings. He makes beautiful sea glass jewelry which you can buy from his shop in the town center, or through his website.
After being featured on the BBC's Countryfile TV show, business has gone through the roof!
Imagine that your job was to walk on the beach, picking up sea glass. Not only that, but then you got to make beautiful jewelry and send it all over the world! Amazing!
During one of my visits to Seaham, I took the opportunity to ask Gavin all about Seaham Waves. He was very generous with his time and you will find the full interview here.
Have you been sea glass hunting in Seaham?
Tell me all about it in the comments below!
16 thoughts on “Seaham Hall Beach: England’s Sea Glass Treasure Chest”
Hi, Jonna…I’ve heard that you have some pics of beach glass jewelry on your facebook, but I don’t have facebook. I’d love to see some photos here on this “beach lust” website. I’m also hoping to start collecting some sea glass as well. Maybe you can give me some pointers and suggestions on the best places to find the best. Love your site. Thanks, too, for giving us something so unusual, beautiful and fun to look for. It’s like treasure hunting. Denise
Hi Denise, Thank you for checking out our site. We are working on a few new posts and categories at this very moment and we will post to Beach Lust website as well as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest in the next couple of days, including our sea glass jewelry.
Thankyou for your information – going next weekend with my daughter – really looking forward to it
Ooh, fantastic! I would love to see your treasures and hear how you got on. Feel free to send me a Facebook message.
Jonna, thanks for sharing. We have been collecting beach glass (sea glass) for many years in the states.
Please advise on Seaham. Willing to go this winter I met a local here (Minnesota) she’s been there for glass many times and told me about it. *Will the long trip reward me with lots of beautiful glass and colors? *Not just green? We need an adventure and don’t care about nice weather. *Tell me the most promising time of year if you could estimate. January? February? March? *How many others might be there in winter picking glass? *Do you know if a good reasonably priced place to stay? Kindly, Leann.
Hi Leann, Seaham in the winter, is not for everyone which makes it my favorite time of year to hit the beaches (I was there in February and it was very cold, frozen rain in the eyes cold, just be well prepared). I believe you will be rewarded with the some of the most beautiful sea glass I’ve ever found! Best time to go would be after a storm or high wave action. Near a full moon, or spring tide. a good 2 hours (or more) before the morning low tide (Seaham sea glassers are serious! but friendly) It’s a large beach so I’ve never seen to many people on the beach but maybe a dozen or so. Stop in to visit Gavin at Seaham Waves.
Moved from the USA 2 weeks ago to Northern Wales. Have collected sea glass in Hawaii, Japan and for 7 years, in Port Townsend, WA, near where I lived. Looking forward to a visit to Seaham this winter. Thanks for your video of Seaham and sharing! Cheers, Jean
Jean, I live in Minnesota collect ‘beach glass’ on the Great Lakes. I have jars full of it. A couple really small red ones mostly greens whites some beautiful blues and a few lavender. My brother lives not far from Port Townsend. How is it for picking there? I have. Ben to Port Townsend many times but, not for beach glass (sea glass) if I get there Summer of 2018 what could I expect and exactly where is the beach? Is it worthwhile at this point (10/2017) or slim pickings? Thanks for sharing if you could! We may get to Seaham this winter. You think there is still enough glass treasures? Sounds like it.
never found anything much there and beach full of people looking, claiming their heap of gravel weird
These are really beautiful pieces! I would love to go there someday, I’ve never been to Europe, and I have heard glass is more plentiful there due to the fact that they don’t rely on plastic as much as the US and that not as many people collect it there.
My sister went to Italy recently and she said there were piles of murano glass near the boat launches, and she wanted to go bring me handfuls home! (She was a bit concerned about freaking out the locals though, and they were also on a right schedule.)
Winter is definitely the best time to look for seaglass! Less people, and lower tides. We went to Maine and hunted in sub-zero temperatures last year! But it was nice because we were the only ones at that particular beach, and found some really neat finds and large pieces too.
Hi Ashley, I think I know who your sister is. Italy is definitly on my list for sea glass. My hubby and I were also in Maine last November, wish I had known you were there. It would have been so nice to sea glass hunt together. Did you find sea glass? I’d love to see some photos of your treasures. I’ll be posting my finds this week. Oh, and I do hope you get to visit Europe soon.
Finally visited Seaham Beach . Absolutely stunning . There were lots of like minded people sifting through the shingle. Found some lovely pieces of glass which will be added to my pictures.
Thanks going there tomorrow woohoo
I’d love to hear how you got on! Did you find some nice pieces?
Who buys sea glass I have loads off beautiful coulors
Thanks for all the info in your post. In in North West England (Wirral) and despite being a peninsular we have barely any sea glass on our beaches. We has more success in Fleetwood and St Ives but still not great. We’ve been planning a trip to Seaham for a few years now and will be going this summer. I’d love some recommendations for beaches with sea glass in Cornwall if anyone has some. My little boys will be joining me in the hunt. They love looking for it and we make jewelry and keyrings with it.