ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the remains of up to four historic glass cones at an old Stourbridge glassworks turned education and arts centre.
Experts from Nexus Heritage, helped by history fans, schoolchildren and young offenders, have been excavating sections of the Glasshouse College and Arts Centre site over the last month ahead of a £1million revamp project.
Expecting to find the remnants of at least one cone on the Wollaston Road site, which was previously home to Webb Corbett and later Royal Doulton, they have been astounded to discover brickwork from three old cones and possibly the remains of a fourth.
Kate Page-Smith, senior heritage consultant from Nexus Heritage, said two of the cone footings found in the courtyard area date back to the 1830s but one uncovered under the car park area was built in the 1690s and it collapsed in 1785.
She said: "It was just left and we are still excavating that. It could be highly significant. There were a lot of glass cones in this area but they all continued in use to the 20th century. The one up there is a time capsule of 18th century technology."
She added: "We may have also come across an early cone that was in this area that was built around the 1690s."
Glasshouse heritage officer Ian Dury said: "This is a significant find that we are exploring. There could be a possibility that this site has four glass cones out of 17 that were in the Stourbridge district."
One of the 1830s cones found was demolished in the 1950s after being converted into a warehouse but the remains of underground cellars and passageways have also been unearthed complete with a 1940s steam boiler still in situ.
Old vases, perfume bottles, champagne flutes and olive oil bottles have also been found and sent off for cleaning.
And Kate added: "The biggest success has been the amount of volunteers we've had. Every day we had 20 people down here and they've never had any archaeological experience; the whole thing has been dug by them - they've done it really well and done all the recording."
Schoolchildren from Amblecote Primary School and St James's Primary in Wollaston, Dudley's Youth Offending Team and members of Amblecote History Society were among those assisting with the digs.
The team from Cheshire-based heritage consultancy firm Nexus were today (Wednesday) due to meet with Heritage Lottery Fund bosses in the hope of securing further funding to enable additional excavation work to take place before building work starts at the site in April.
Anyone who remembers the underground cellars and the 1940s boiler when they were in operation are asked to contact Mr Dury on 01384 399419.