GLASSMAKING IN THE BLACK COUNTRY
As with many other trades that made the West Midlands famous, the trade was overtaken by the cheapness of overseas competition and now all that remains of a once active industry are a number of specialist makers, museums and sales outlets. Probably the area to visit is the glass quarter of Stourbridge. There still remains plenty of museums devoted to the subject in the area to interest the tourist.
The area around The Black Country has beneath its surface coal, sand, limestone, iron ore and fireclay. The natural resources formed the springboard for the part played by this area in the Industrial Revolution, first iron making and then engineering (the first locomotive to run on commercial tracks in the USA was built in Stourbridge in 1829 and is called “The Stourbridge Lion").
The process of making glass utilised the coal and clay for the ovens and activity in the area concentrated on bottles and windows, but in the 18th Century, following the introduction of the addition of lead to glass to create Lead Crystal, the area around Stourbridge became world famous for its tableware and ornamental glass. The 1878 of the illustrated guide to the Paris Exhibition declared that “Thomas Webb & Co of Stourbridge are the best makers of glass in the world,” There were local makers who no doubt would have disputed this contention!
WHAT TO VISIT
The following places of interest are well worth consideration of a visit:
• The Red House Glass Cone.
• Broadfield House Glass Museum.
• Royal Brierley Crystal.(not in the Stourbridge Glass Quarter.)
• Ruskin Glass Centre.
• Tudor Crystal.