Broadfield Glass Museum houses one of the finest collections of glass in the country, and here you can still see craftspeople demonstrate their skills in the museum’s hot glass studio. The collection concentrates on the products of the local glass making industry, whilst the nearby Red House Glass Cone is concerned with the production process. A visit to Broadfield Glass Museum is best following one to the ‘Red House’.
Glassmaking has been practiced in the Stourbridge area for over 400 years. Simple glass products were produced at first but in the late 1600s, fine lead glass tableware started to be produced. The area’s reputation grew and grew until in the Victorian Period it produced some of its finest work.
John Northwood (1836-1902) is credited with much of the innovative design and associated skills development that lead to the production of the most distinctive glassware. The Portland Vase in the British Museum is considered to be the most famous and influential piece of ancient glass in the world. However the cameo technique which the Romans used to make it had been lost and in 1845 a prize was offered of E1475 (£1000) to the person that could reproduce it. Working with Philip Pargeter, it took Northwood 21 years to re-discover the lost technique. The decorative art of cameo became a craze and he trained several craftsmen to help supply the burgeoning market for this fashionable glassware. Examples of his work, and others of the period, form part of this magnificent collection.
The museum’s hot glass studio provides facilities for two up and coming glass makers each year, and a stunning array of glassware can be purchased in the shop.