Saving Iconic Chance Brothers Glass Works in Smethwick

Saving Iconic Chance Brothers Glass Works in Smethwick

An exciting project has been launched to regenerate the iconic Chance Brothers glassworks in Smethwick - a critically important part of Britain’s industrial heritage.

This was once the site of the most technically advanced glassworks in the world whose innovations included the panes of the Crystal Palace, home of the great exhibition of 1851; the revolutionary lenses which made the modern lighthouse possible; and, the glass faces of Big Ben. Today, this proud site once employing more than 3 500 people, is listed as “at risk” on the Scheduled Monuments Register of Historic England.

Now a group of bold professionals and enthusiasts from the Black Country have stepped in to rejuvenate this exciting site which is in an area of severe deprivation.

They have now announced the launch of a charity - Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust

The Trust’s Vision

The Trust’s vision is to work in partnership with the site’s owners and the local community to bring this internationally important site back to life. Mark Davies, Chair of CGWHT, said:

This is a once in a life time opportunity to save a nationally important monument for the nation and to put it to good use for the benefit of the local community. We intend to develop the site into a vibrant iconic centre for education, learning new skills and generating new enterprise, whilst acknowledging the success of its past glories as a glassworks. Thousands of people still remember Chance as it once was; we intend that many more will now be able to enjoy it well into the future whilst never losing site of its original significance to the area and indeed the entire world.

From this.. To this..
From This To This

Initial plans include multiple opportunities ranging from facilities for incubating small businesses to accommodation and recreation - all recognising the archaeological and historical importance of the site.

At the heart of the development a 50 metre lighthouse is proposed that will acknowledge one of Chance Brothers' greatest achievements.

Importance of project gains early support

The Trust has secured initial funding from the Heritage Start-up Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund to add to a grant from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership. These funds are being used to conduct feasibility studies and develop initial concepts.

CGWHT will now begin fund raising »

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Who are the Trustees?


Toby Chance, a member of the Chance glassmaking family, now resident in South Africa where he is Shadow Minister for Small Business Development, Democratic Alliance Party


Mark Davies (Chair): Proprietor MCD Project Management
Sue Howarth: CEO North Smethwick Development Trust
David Tittle: Head of Design Advice Design South East
Graham Fisher MBE: Authorr and broadcaster

Learn more about the fascinating history of Chance Brothers

Glass and Glassmaking History West Midlands
Glass and Glassmaking
Special issue

Toby Chance reveals the importance of Chance Brothers and the story of this Black Country business.

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View the Chances article »

Watch the video
Chance Brothers
Pioneering glass technology

In this short programme, Dr Malcolm Dick, Editor of History West Midlands discusses the growth, achievements and decline of one of the Black Country's most important manufacturers.

Watch the film »
  Chance Brothers – Pioneering glass technology

The race to illuminate the world Read about how Chance Brothers saved thousands of lives at sea
Lighthouses: The Race to Illuminate the World
Toby Chance

The Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, 1851: James Chance, of the glass-making firm Chance Brothers, is nervously showcasing a new lens, that, unknown to him, will revolutionise lighthouse production, propel his family business into a position of world leadership, save countless lives and have far-reaching consequences for trade, empire and the world.

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