Stourbridge Canal, Dudley, West Midlands (12. Lock 13)
Royal Geographical Society
12. Lock 13Fénykép: Society Royal Geographical, Royal Geographical Society
Across the canal is the site of Stuart & Sons which closed in 2001. The company was the last of the big glassmakers in Stourbridge to cease production. After years of dereliction and vandalism the buildings have been renovated. The centrepiece is a new museum built to house the internationally renowned Stourbridge glass collection. The White House Cone Museum of Glass has been spearheaded by the British Glass Foundation. The nineteenth century is recognised as the ‘Golden Age of Stourbridge Glass’. Innovative glassmakers introduced colours, new decorating techniques, and learned how to make glass of all sorts of shapes and sizes. By the beginning of the twentieth century there were about a dozen glass manufacturers and many independent decorating facilities in the area. Stourbridge had become a world leader and the industry was a major employer. Demand fell around the time of the First World War and afterwards production increasingly moved away from coloured glass. Stourbridge became strongly associated with high quality cut and engraved lead crystal. This glass was exported all over the world. For many years glassmaking remained profitable but towards the end of the twentieth century decline set in. Rising production costs and increased competition from abroad, together with a decline in the popularity of cut glass, devastated the industry. Today the big names have all gone - Thomas Webb and Sons, Webb Corbett, Royal Brierley and Stuart Crystal. Some smaller crystal manufacturers remain in the area. Though the days of large scale production are over, small studios are breathing new life into this traditional industry. Directions Continue along the towpath. Go under Glasshouse Bridge and stop just afterwards opposite the glass cone.
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