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Earth, water, fire and air: Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, is blessed with them all.
The local hills provide fireclay to
line kilns, and coal to heat them, whilst the Stour, Severn and
associated canals offer access to materials and markets. Its kilns were
first fired in the seventeenth century by 'gentleman glassmakers' from
Lorraine, attracted by this geological bounty. But it was the breath of its master-blowers that, during the Victorian
era, established the town as the heart of the British glass industry.
The Dennis Glass Works were established at Amblecote in 1855 by Thomas
Webb and Sons, and won the Grand Prix at the Paris International in both
1878 and 1889. Even today, Stourbridge glass has few rivals for
quality. But cost was a different matter, and the twentieth century saw profit
margins eroded by competition from more automated factories. Despite its
sale to Royal Doulton in 1969, production ceased entirely in 1995.
Find out more about the heritage of Glasshouse College by visiting the Ruskin Glass Centre website, here. Ruskin Glass Centre is home to a wide array of glass crafts; from live glassblowing, respected studio glass artists, engravers, glass decorators, and glass repair specialists to the diverse yet complementary trades of furniture design, handmade soap, textiles, photography, printing and publishing.
In August 2012, The Glasshouse Arts Centre was opened on the the site of Glasshouse College. The Glasshouse Arts Centre is an artistic and cultural hub for our students, local groups, theatre performances, conferencing and hospitality events. Find out more about this exciting development here.