During the early 19th century a remarkable structure developed in Britain – the glass cone. The conical building was designed to channel air into the furnace to make the fires burn hotter. It also provided a large work space for the glassmakers. Throughout Dudley and Stourbridge areas there were many cones, but the densest concentration was in Amblecote and Wordsley.
Even after technology advanced and the cones were no longer needed to act as chimneys, the buildings were still used for glassmaking until many eventually fell into disrepair, were demolished or simply collapsed.
Today there are only four cones left standing in Britain and the Red House Glass Cone is the most complete example in Europe – the other three are located in Scotland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sheffield.
The Red House Glass Cone, which is 100ft high, was built around 1790. It was most recently home to Stuart Crystal who produced glass in the Cone until 1936. Production at their factory on the Cone site stopped in 2001 and the factory shop now closed.
The Red House Glass Cone has remained virtually unaltered in its 200 year old history and is now operating as a visitor attraction providing a fascinating insight into the history and tradition of glassmaking.
The self-guided tour around the Cone, visitor centre and canal give visitors a taste of what the site was like at its peak. Standing inside the Cone, and looking up, shows its scale and gives visitors an impression of what it would have been like to work inside this impressive structure. With contemporary glassblowing and cutting on site, as well as studio tenants in all the Cone’s courtyard, the Cone continues to be a site of artistic design, innovation and history.