The Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021378

Date first listed: 13-Jan-2005


Ordnance survey map of The Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Dudley (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SO 89385 86452, SO 89428 86476


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Glass has been produced in England since the Roman period, although field evidence is scarce until the late medieval period. Wood was the main manufacturing fuel up to the early 17th century, so the industry was located in woodland areas, particularly the Weald. From about 1610, production shifted to the coalfields. Glass production requires three major components: silica, alkali and lime, together with colouring material for certain products and decolourisers for clear glass. Lead was also used in the production of certain types of glass during the Roman period and after the 17th century. The manufacturing process involves three stages, fritting, melting and annealing. Fritting was a common practice before the 19th century involving heating the main glass constituents to produce an unmolten material for grinding, melting and annealing. Melting involved the remelting of previously formed glass, and the production of new glass from raw materials. Until the late 19th century, glass was normally melted in pre-fired crucibles of refractory clay, on stone benches called sieges, within the melting furnace. Use of coal as the preferred fuel and automatic bottle-making machinery in the 1880s led to changes to the melting furnaces and the use of larger furnaces, hitherto conical structures over circular furnaces. Regenerative furnaces were developed in the 1860s, and tank furnaces for bulk melting quickly followed. Flat-glass production methods were made obsolete by the Pilkington float-glass system of 1959. The third process is annealing. Because the rapid cooling of molten glass can give rise to internal stresses, glass was treated in furnaces designed to heat the glass to a point where deformation begins, then cooled gradually. In the 19th century conveyors were introduced to take glass through a hot zone into cool air. Features on glass manufacturing sites include various types of furnaces, producer-gas plants for the making of gas from coke at 19th century glassworks, bottle-making machinery, blowing irons or pipes for blowing glass, glass residues and various buildings used as stores or warehouses. A total of 135 glass production sites (representing about 25% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry) have been identified as being of national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed though a comprehensive national survey of the glass industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity, and to include all the better preserved glass sites, together with rare individual component features.

The Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks form part of a group of glassworks located around the Stourbridge Canal. At least 30 works are known to have existed in Stourbridge, one of the most important glassmaking centres in the British Isles. In the immediate vicinity there were at least six glassworks in operation at one time. These works have been historically associated with some of the most famous names in the history of glassmaking, such as Ensells and Stuarts. They were responsible for exporting glass workers, masters and techniques internationally and particularly to other reknowned sites such as Waterford Crystal in Ireland. These glassworks were also responsible for the experimentation and development of many of the processes involved in the production of glass; including broad glass, bottle glass, cut glass, flint or crystal glass, cameo, fancy and coloured glassware. The remains of the Redhouse, Whitehouse and Newhouse glassworks include evidence from the earliest phases of glassmaking in the Stourbridge area and industrial period glassmaking in England, through to some of the more innovative post-war experimentation phases. The variety of preservation conditions including both buried and standing remains provide an opportunity to consider the origins, technologies and methods of glassmaking in a variety of periods. The survival of the Redhouse glass cone, one of only five known in Europe and the best preserved example in Britain, demonstrates its continued importance as a local feature and landmark icon representing the British glass industry.


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The monument includes the known surviving extent of buried and standing remains of Whitehouse and Redhouse glassworks, including the later Newhouse glassworks. These lie in two separate areas of protection either side of Wordsley High Street and immediately south of the Stourbridge Canal. The Whitehouse complex of buildings, including the Newhouse furnace building, are also Listed Buildings Grade II and based within the second area of protection west of Wordsley High Street. The remains of Whitehouse glassworks, including its foundations for the cone, furnace base and lehr (annealing tunnel) will survive as below ground remains, which can be partially accessed through a surviving tunnel network. Foundations of early ancillary buildings including the canal wharf also survive, incorporated into later buildings on the site. The Newhouse glassworks survives as both buried and standing remains, some of which are incorporated into later buildings on the site. Those remains that are visible include the furnace base and parts of the lehr and glass-working floor and the rectangular building which enclosed them. As well as a full range of ancillary buildings, Redhouse glassworks includes standing remains of one of only five glass cones known to survive in Europe, standing to a height of 22.4m and 14.2m in diameter. This cone and its ancillary buildings are Listed Grade II*. The Redhouse site initially made both broad and bottle glass, while cut glass is mentioned as having been produced at the Whitehouse site from the mid-19th century and cameo glass at Redhouse from 1870. Crystal glass was made on both sites during the 20th century. These sites relied heavily on the canal network for transport including both raw materials and finished products. The glassmakers were major subscribers to the initial Stourbridge Canal Company, and wharves survive at both sites. The industry also relied on good natural daylight for both checking and finishing products. Many of the early buildings on site were long and narrow, to incorporate as many dual aspect windows as possible. Although the earliest surviving records date from 1811, a glass cone is first depicted on the site of the Whitehouse glassworks on John Snape's 1785 map of Stourbridge Canal. In 1788 Richard Bradley a local glass master purchased the site of the Redhouse glassworks, and constructed the works soon after. The Redhouse cone is mentioned in documents following his death in 1796. Throughout the 19th century both the works were owned by various partnerships. An inventory of 1827 taken at Redhouse indicates that it included the cone, with a 10 pot furnace and 12 glassmakers' chairs, a pot arch (where newly made pots were dried) and two tunnel lehrs (for annealing or gradual cooling of glass), as well as a range of ancillary buildings including offices, showrooms and warehouses arranged in a U-shaped group in the corner of the site against the road and the canal. During this period the Whitehouse glassworks remained much smaller, depicted in maps as a cone and single range of buildings along the road frontage. A detailed plan of the Redhouse site indicates that by 1834 the present arrangement of buildings in the north west section of the site was already established, whilst the tithe map of 1839 demonstrates that Whitehouse had been extended, with an additional building along the canal frontage. During the 1850s both Redhouse and Whitehouse glassworks were acquired by William and Edward Webb, although Redhouse was tenanted by a William Hodgetts, who had erected cutting shops on the south east corner of the site by 1856. In 1871 Philip Pargeter, a tenant of Redhouse, reconstructed the furnace and added a `Frisbee Feed', a mechanical method of introducing fuel to the furnace, which enabled much higher temperatures to be achieved. From 1881 Stuart leased Redhouse glassworks, forming Stuart and Sons in 1885. The first edition Ordnance Survey map, 1883-4, shows extensive ranges of buildings at both glassworks. The Redhouse site remains the larger of the two complexes with the building layout reflecting that which survives to the present day. The Whitehouse site included the cone with a range of ancillary structures on its western and northern flanks and additional ranges of buildings extending along the road frontage and the canal side. The 1903 Ordnance Survey map shows an additional free standing building at Whitehouse south of the canal range, and some extensions to existing buildings at Redhouse. Stuart and Sons subsequently purchased both the Whitehouse and Redhouse sites after 1914 and the years following the World War I saw substantial expansions, particularly at Whitehouse. The Newhouse glassworks was built adjacent to the Whitehouse site in 1925. Its construction included demolition of buildings north east of the Whitehouse cone and the erection of a rectangular building, which accommodated the new furnace. The 1938 Ordnance Survey map shows the beginning of the Vine Lane glassworks constructed in 1934 further west along the canal from the Whitehouse site and which grew to incorporate an earlier mill which lay immediately to the west. These later expansions and adaptations are not included in the scheduling. The Redhouse cone went out of use in 1936, although it survived as a standing structure. The Whitehouse cone was partially demolished in 1940. In 1969 alterations to the High Street caused the partial demolition of the roadside range of Redhouse buildings and following a fire, the remnants of Whitehouse cone were demolished in 1970. The date of the above ground demolition of the Newhouse furnace is uncertain. In 1984, following extensive consolidation and restoration work, Redhouse was opened as a museum. Glass manufacture continued on the west side of the High Street, largely in the much-altered Vine Lane works until 2001. Redhouse lies within the first area of protection east of Wordsley High Street. The Redhouse cone lies near the centre of the area. North of the cone are the remains of both lehrs and exposed foundations of two structures adjacent to the canal wharf. This includes the remains of a sand washing plant. The surviving ancillary buildings were largely converted for reuse and are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these buildings is included. Whitehouse glass cone and the Newhouse glassworks lie within the second area of protection on the western side of Wordsley High Street. Remains include the buried part of Whitehouse glass cone with its foundations and furnace base, and the remains of its lehr. Although the cone was demolished in 1970 much of the below ground elements are believed to survive. A small section can be accessed from tunnels in the basement of the former despatch warehouse building and the former offices which lie between the Stourbridge Canal and Wordsley High Street, most recently known as the despatch warehouse, and in the building to its south west most recently used as offices. Archaeological work has confirmed that demolition works have involved collapsing the vaults of tunnels so that debris from the upper levels of the cone would fill the voids, and indicates that tunnel walls and bases of the furnace are believed to survive, buried by the majority of material from the entire collapsed cone. In addition the plant housing, furnace base, foundations working floor, lehr of the Newhouse glassworks, as well as the canal wharf and service tunnels for the site, survive as below ground remains partly incorporated into adaptations of the building complex. These remains are located in the ground floor and basement of the despatch warehouse between the Stourbridge Canal and Wordsley High Street and in former offices. The former despatch warehouse is a brick-built two-storey structure with canal level basements dating mainly from 1925, when it was constructed to house the Newhouse furnace. Some brickwork from a much earlier 19th century canalside building survives in the lower section of the north gable elevation and within the basement. This is believed to be the remains of ancillary buildings associated with the Whitehouse glassworks. Part of the circular brick working floor around the Newhouse furnace can be seen within the ground floor structure of the dispatch warehouse and is believed to survive intact below the modern floor level. The base of the Newhouse furnace survives largely complete, at basement level, in the centre of the building and includes the fixing remains for a `Frisbee Feed'. This feed was served by a brick lined tunnel from the canalside and an additional tunnel extended to the north west, providing access to the base of the Whitehouse cone. These tunnels are believed to be contemporary with the construction of the Newhouse furnace circa 1925. In addition a short section of an earlier tunnel survives close to the base of the Whitehouse cone which is believed to have originally provided access extending to the canal. The former office building incorporates remains of several structures, constructed between Whitehouse cone and the Newhouse furnace. At ground level on the northern side there is a narrow brick passage with a shallow brick vault, remains of the lehr associated with the Newhouse furnace. South of this is the western end of the ramp leading down to the tunnel network. At ground level the southernmost area includes remains believed to be part of the kiln associated with the Whitehouse cone. The orientation of walls and structural elements on the first floor suggests that they relate to earlier structures and probably reflect the radial layout of ancillary buildings surrounding the Whitehouse cone. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling: these are the surviving ancillary buildings which are Listed Buildings Grade II*, the ancillary buildings associated with the Redhouse glassworks, all modern paths and surfaces, all modern signage fittings and display material associated with the museum and the foundations of the modern museum reception building. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included. Further structures also excluded from the scheduling are: the first floor of the former office building incorporating remains of Newhouse lehr (and access to the tunnel system), all levels above ground floor level of the housing for the Newhouse furnace, all levels above ground floor level of the ancillary buildings associated with Whitehouse cone and the floors and walls above ground level of the former despatch warehouse which includes remains of Newhouse furnace, however the ground floors, basements and ground beneath these buildings, are all included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35119

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing