The Red House Glass Cone situated in the historic Stourbridge Glass Quarter and next to the Stourbridge Canal was built in the late 18th Century.
At just over 100 feet high, it is one of only four complete cones left in the UK and is a grade two listed building and scheduled ancient monument. It was originally built for the purpose of making window glass. It continued to produce glass until production ceased in 1936. In 2002, it opened as a visitor attraction and nowadays has a gift shop on site, a variety of studio artists for you to explore, glassblowing demonstrations at weekends and during school holidays. There is an excellent education programme for children and adults offering a range of craft sessions and an entertaining events programme through the year. Group tours can also be booked.
The Black Country was rich in mineral wealth contained within the coal measures of the exposed coalfield just beneath the surface. It provided thick beds of fine fireclay and coal. Fireclay was an essential material for making bricks suitable for lining furnaces and glass kilns which could resist the high melting temperatures and aggressive chemistry of molten glass needed in the glassmaking industry. The abundance of coal was the fuel required to burn to create heat within the furnaces. It was used to melt the imported silica sand which made coloured glass products. Over 150 years, a chain of 16 glasshouses emerged along the main Stourbridge to Kingswinford road - today referred to as the Crystal Mile. The construction of the canals provided a wonderful service to the glassmaking industry bringing in bulk loads of raw materials such as fine silica sand, red lead oxide, potash and saltpetre. Many crystal manufacturers contributed financially to the building of the canals as it ensured a safe passage for the fragile glass.
A brand new Stourbridge Canal & Glass Quarter Heritage Trail guide has been produced, along with a detailed historical and heritage web version to enable visitors to undertake a self guided circular walk along the Stourbridge Canal and learn about the history and heritage of the Glass Quarter. An accompanying video has also been produced to highlight features along the walk.
2020 also sees the launch of augmented reality to enhance the visitors' experience.
The Red House Glass Cone is open from 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday, 11am to 4pm Saturday & Sunday. Admission is free. It has a gift shop, craft studios, coffee house and toilets on site. Free car parking is also available. The coffee house offers a hot and cold menu with drinks and seasonal foods.
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The Ruskin Glass Centre, formerly the site of and Webb Corbett and Royal Doulton Crystal is home to over 25 craft businesses, has an organic café and the Glass House Heritage Centre offers guided tours providing the history and heritage of the site. Ruskin Glass Centre is part of Ruskin Mill Land Trust who specialise in educating young people with learning disabilities through a craft and land based curriculum. Admission is free and the centre's opening hours are from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday.