Stourbridge is acknowledged to be the cradle of English glassmaking. William Stevens was a Stourbridge lad who set up a glass making crib in a nail shop adjoining Orchard Cottage in Parish Hill around 1880.His business prospered and around 1895 he built a larger glasshouse next door. Only flint glass was melted down and work was concentrated on cruets, sugar bowls, marmalade pots etc.

At the peak of activity two furnaces were operated and twelve to fourteen people employed. Day and night shifts were worked and the “set” consisted of a blower, a maker and a stopper maker. Business continued smoothly until 1914 when several workers left to join in the war effort. Two of William Stevens’s sons, George and Charles worked regularly with him. Among others were William Emus, Tom Healey, William Leddington and Tom Evans

After the war William Stevens gave the business to his second son George, finally closing in 1925.

William Stevens however was an able businessman and he built himself a substantial house, Hillcrest in Yarnold Lane close to the glassworks. When he died in 1930, his will was proved for £9000, worth in excess of ½ million pounds today.

The aforementioned Tom Evans began his own glassmaking business in premises at Snuff Hill at the lower end of Brook Rd. Fairfield, which at the time was also regarded as Bournheath. Ernest Fox was his principal glassmaker.

In 1919 Fox left and started on his own renting the crib from William Stevens adjoining Orchard Cottage where Stevens originally started his business. He made more fancy decorative articles than the mundane domestic ware of the Stevens’ operation, as the examples shown below.

CJL 2014

The location of the glassmaking shop above is unclear but the image was taken around 1920 either at Orchard Cottage or more likely at Snuff Hill as both Bert and Reg Evans were the sons of Tom Evans.

It shows from the left: Bert Evans, Albert Hughes, Walter Hancox, Solomon Hughes, Reg Evans and George Waldron.

Article by Sir Hugh Chance written in 1959 about the Bromsgrove Glasshouses. His family business in Spon Lane, Smethwick provided the glass for the original Crystal Palace in 1851 and the House of Parliament 1840-1860.

Photograph of glassware belonging to the late Hilda Darby by Peter Moss.