Historic glassworks reappears on Victorian Society endangered list


Chance Brothers Glassworks, Smethwick

It was once home to the world’s largest glassmaker but now a derelict Black Country complex finds itself on another ‘at risk’ list.

The Chance Brothers Glassworks in Smethwick comprises nine grade II-listed structures which were built between 1847 and 1860 and can be seen from the M5.

But now The Victorian Society, the charity which campaigns for the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, has included it on its Top Ten Endangered Buildings list for 2024, marking an unwanted return after it also appeared on the 2017 countdown.

It is listed on Historic England’s At Risk Register as well.

Robert Lucas Chance established Chance Brothers Glassworks on the former British Crown Glass Company site in 1824 and continued to expand the site to become the largest glassmaker in the world.

The works, off Spon Lane South, employed 3,500 people and supplied structures such as lighthouses, Crystal Palace in London and windows for the White House and the Houses of Parliament.

The brothers were innovative producers of scientific grade glass, applying for 27 British patents, and they developed the first cathode ray tubes, working with John Logie Baird for radar and television sets.


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