First glimpse of £5m glass museum plan

Stourbridge News: Artist's impression of the proposed £5m glass museum. Artist's impression of the proposed £5m glass museum.

THIS is the first glimpse of how a derelict glassworks site in Wordsley could look if multi-million pound plans to turn it into a world class museum go ahead.

The British Glass Foundation together with developers Complex Developments and Dudley Council have been in talks for more than a year about plans to transform the old Stuart Crystal glassworks site in Camp Hill into a new state-of-the-art glass museum to complement the existing Red House Glass Cone attraction over the road.

All parties hope to create a £5m landmark facility in the Glass Quarter that could be as famous as New York's prestigious Corning Museum, and these artist's impressions depicting how new life could be breathed into the old Stuart site, also known as the White House Cone, show the dream is a step closer to becoming reality.

Drawn up by Birmingham-based architects Bryant Newman Architects Ltd, the images show the proposed facility could become an iconic visitor attraction accommodating Stourbridge's prized glass collection, which is currently housed at Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford and in storage at Himley Hall.

It would feature an open courtyard with a striking light sculpture marking the spot where the White House Cone once stood and mirroring the Red House Glass Cone on the opposite side of the A491, which visitors would be able to safely cross by using underground tunnels linking the two sites.

The facility, which would incorporate an eye-catching glass frontage, would offer visitors a tour detailing the story of glassmaking and showcasing the area's historic glass treasures through interactive displays before offering people chance to see contemporary craftsmen and women at work in their studio workshops and glassblowing demonstrations in the Red House Glass Cone.

The new White House site would also include a restaurant and cafe with canal-side views and seating plus visitor parking. Meanwhile the existing Red House car park would be used for staff and business parking.

Graham Fisher, spokesman for the British Glass Foundation which was set up to help steer forward plans for a new museum to replace world famous Broadfield House, said: "This represents a golden possibility to place the Stourbridge collection on a world class footing. It's a very viable proposition. The vision is there and if we can realise it this will place us at the very forefront of the industry.

“Broadfield House is second only to Corning Museum in New York where 85 per cent of the exhibits were made in Stourbridge. If we can realise this facility it would give us chance to showcase our own glass in style and make the industry the focus of world attention."

The partners hope to fund the external part of the project with money from the European Regional Development Fund, a bid for which is currently being prepared; although extra cash would still need to be raised for internal fixtures and fittings.

Ian Harrabin, managing director of Complex Development Projects Ltd which owns the site, said he hopes the bid proves a success as the historic buildings, a number of which are listed, require urgent restoration having been hit repeatedly by vandals.

He added: “We need to get on with it. If we’re not careful there won’t be very much of the buildings left.”

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