Glassmaking

THE GROWTH OF AN INDUSTRY

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The ancient skill of glassmaking came to the West Midlands centuries ago, drawn by the availability of raw materials.

It flourished, thanks to the efforts of inventors and industrialists, designers and patrons, skilled craftsmen and child labourers. By the nineteenth century a myriad of products, from domestic glassware to fine chandeliers and lenses for lighthouses were being distributed around the world from small domestic workshops and large manufactories; and the Black Country, particularly Stourbridge, had become synonymous with glassmaking.

Although the origins of glass are believed to date back to the fifteenth century BC in Egypt, its manufacture in Britain is comparatively recent. The first stained glass window was produced by craftsmen at Monkwearmouth Church, near Sunderland, who were brought from France in the late seventh century. From the thirteenth century there was a thriving glass industry in Kent, Sussex and Surrey due to the availability of sand, minerals and timber – all necessary for the manufacture of glass.

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Glass Industry