STOURBRIDGE Glass Museum rolled out the red carpet earlier today (Wednesday April 19) to welcome His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester.

The Duke, the Queen’s cousin, had been due to tour the museum on September 14 but the visit was cancelled as the country mourned the death of the Queen.

The Royal visit, however, was rescheduled and this morning the Duke was given a tour of the state-of-the-art museum in Camp Hill, Wordsley, which was officially opened 12 months ago after a campaign lasting more than a decade.

Stourbridge News:

His Royal Highness chatted to glass experts, visited the hot glass studio where live glassblowing was taking place. He also met youngsters from Brook Primary School getting ready to celebrate the King’s Coronation and saw Stourbridge’s prized replica of the famous Portland Vase which is displayed at the museum.

Antiques Roadshow stars Will Farmer and Eric Knowles were among celebrity guests at the event celebrating the achievements of the British Glass Foundation which took on the challenge back in 2009 to create a new museum to house the borough’s prestigious glass collection when Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford was earmarked for closure.

Will, director of Fieldings Auctioneers in Stourbridge, said: “I’m so thrilled that here in Stourbridge we’ve got this world class museum.

“The collection really is spectacular. It’s so nice that it’s now accessible - not only to people locally but also to people all over the world. This really is a place people should visit.”

Retired ITV newsreader Bob Warman was also at the event, along with the Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands Sir John Crabtree OBE; Wade Lyn - High Sheriff for the West Midlands; Alderman Dave Tyler and wife Barbara - ex-Mayoress of Dudley; Barbara Beadman MBE – former chairman of the Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum and past master of The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London; and Dudley South MP Mike Wood.

Stourbridge News: Mike Wood MP with Graham Knowles - chairman of the British Glass FoundationMike Wood MP with Graham Knowles - chairman of the British Glass Foundation (Image: Cllr Adam Davies)

Mr Wood described the museum as a “fantastic facility for the community showcasing our proud glassmaking heritage” and he added: “It was wonderful to welcome the Duke of Gloucester to the museum and see his enthusiasm and interest in the wonderful works that are on show here.”

Graham Knowles, chairman of the British Glass Foundation, added: “I think we were able to show all aspects of the museum to the Duke including the community engagement. He was genuinely interested and keen on the displays and asking all the right questions.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better.”

He said it had been “very difficult” to get support in the early days of the campaign to create the new museum but since then grants have been successfully obtained and targets hit, and he added: “Our volunteers love every second here and our small staff team are excelling all the time.”

The attraction which he described as a “museum for the people” has welcomed just under 10,000 visitors during its first year.

Stourbridge News: Cllr Adam Davies and Lynn Boleyn of the BGFCllr Adam Davies and Lynn Boleyn of the BGF (Image: Cllr Adam Davies)

Councillor Adam Davies, whose Brierley Hill ward includes the museum, said: "Every member of the team behind the museum has done a brilliant job making it a living and breathing reality, and this Royal opening was a worthy testament to both their hard work and our area's proud glass making heritage.

"We're really grateful to the Duke for taking the time to visit and give this special gem its official Royal opening.”

For glassmaker Ian Dury, who led the project to recreate the Portland Vase in Stourbridge, it was a momentous occasion to be able to showcase to the Duke the iconic replica cameo vase which he has donated to the museum.

Stourbridge News: The replica of the famous Portland VaseThe replica of the famous Portland Vase (Image: Bev Holder/Newsquest)

He said: “He was absolutely fascinated by it – he knew about the history of the vase and was asking very relevant questions.

“It’s a lifetime’s achievement. I made a promise that it would be kept in Stourbridge. Previous replicas have been made and ended up in America, but I want this collection to remain in Stourbridge.”

The museum was built by Complex Development Projects on the site of the old Stuart Crystal factory and White House Cone with the help of grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Dudley Council.

Stourbridge News: Stourbridge Glass MuseumStourbridge Glass Museum (Image: Bev Holder/Newsquest)

Supporters celebrated its completion in summer 2016 and were given a peek inside, with various pop-up events held thereafter, but it still needed an extensive and costly internal fit out to accommodate the prized glass collection – so it wasn’t until April 2022 that it had an official VIP launch ahead of the scheduled Royal visit.

Ian Harrabin MBE, owner of Complex Development Projects, said: “It’s been such a long road for everybody but to get here and to see it today - it’s been so worth all the effort for so many people.

“It was so lovely to have the Duke of Gloucester here which added that sparkle of Royalty, that bit of magic.”

Stourbridge News: The Duke of Gloucester, right, with Alexander Goodger, manager of Stourbridge Glass MuseumThe Duke of Gloucester, right, with Alexander Goodger, manager of Stourbridge Glass Museum (Image: Bev Holder/Newsquest)

Designed to engage and inform visitors of all ages with displays, storytelling and interactive technology, the museum includes digital animations and audio which take visitors back 200 years to a Stourbridge glass works as well as hundreds of pieces from the 17th century onwards from the globally significant Stourbridge Glass Collection.

It also includes contemporary glass and art displays and a hot glass studio where visitors can see artist Allister Malcolm and his team at work.

Work on display includes Christopher Day’s After the Darkness the Light, a piece he says he created to highlight the migrant crisis and how those fleeing Ukraine have been presented compared with people escaping war-torn Syria and Afghanistan.

He said: “This was my way of saying there’s racism even when there’s a war. “Being very political I didn’t think I’d get the commission.”

Stourbridge News: The Duke of Gloucester, right, with artist Christopher Day, centre, and museum curator Harrison Davies viewing Mr Day's After the Darkness the Light pieceThe Duke of Gloucester, right, with artist Christopher Day, centre, and museum curator Harrison Davies viewing Mr Day's After the Darkness the Light piece (Image: Bev Holder/Newsquest)

The piece, however, is on permanent display at the museum, and the artist, a heat engineer by day who began glassmaking six years ago, was keen to highlight its significance to the Duke.

He said he was pleased at the news that King Charles has signalled his support for research exploring the British monarchy’s links to slavery and he said that artwork such as his thought-provoking piece “makes it easier to create a conversation” about a subject that’s “never been properly talked about”.

To find out more about the museum check out