Posted on 28th April 2016 / 1121
Industry Type : Manufacturing, Manufacturing, Manufacturing
Public or Private Site? : Private Land, Private Land, Private Land
Condition : Ruins and Remnants, Ruins and Remnants, Ruins and Remnants

Chance Brothers became known as the greatest glass manufacturer in Britain!

They were one of the earliest glass works to carry out the cylinder process in Europe.

The Chance Brothers became the first company to adopt the cylinder method to produce sheet glass, and became the largest British manufacturer of window and plate glass, and optical glasses.

(Robert) Lucas Chance (8 October 1782 – 7 March 1865) bought the British Crown Glass Co’s works in Spon Lane, Birmingham, in 1824. The company specialised in making crown window glass, but ran into difficulty in 1832 and saved by Chance’s brother, William, who happened to own an iron merchants in Great Charles Street, Birmingham. In 1836 Lucas and William became partners and the business was renamed Chance Brothers and Co.

The company were responsible for many ‘break-throughs’, such as the first British cylinder blown sheet glass using French and Belgian workers in 1837 and the development of plate glass, patented by James Timmins Chance, in 1839.

In 1848 a new plant was set up to manufacture crown and flint glass for lighthouse optics, telescopes and cameras.

However, it’s only when you consider the major contracts they had, when you realise their awesomeness :

  • In 1851, the Great Exhibition was held in the incredible Crystal Palace (designed by Joseph Paxton) and the Chance Brothers provided the glazing!
  • Between 1840 and 1860 they were busy glazing the Houses of Parliament!
  • They made the opal glass for the 4 faces of the Westminster Clock Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben bell!
  • They did the ornamental windows for the White House!

They made stained glass windows, ornamental lamp shades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware, glass tubing and specialist types of glass, but the most beautiful work was arguably the lighthouse optics. James Chance cleverly placed lamp in a cage, called an optic and surrounded it with fresnel lenses. They were later rotated and this development enabled them to have signature flashes to aid their identification to navigate by.

The optical components, machinery, and other equipment for lighthouses were distributed all around the world.

As if all this wasn’t enough, they also gave us sunglasses and televisions! They pioneered specialised glass to block UV light and Chance developed cathode ray tubes (CRTs) just before the outbreak of World War II. The tubes at that time were used for radar detection displays, but it was all emerging technology – what a forward thinking company!

They were also a caring group and considered highly by their employees, as per the likes of the Cadbury Brothers. They too built colleges and chapels.

These days, the Glassworks are looking very dilapidated and unloved. The Grade II listed buildings are massive, with 7 floors. They are situated between the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN), Old Main Line and New Main Line canals near the Spon Lane locks. It quite rightly has several Grade II listed warehouses and adjacent canal bridges on the BCN New Main Line. Rather interestingly, snoopers have reported that the remains of the underground glass kilns are impressive survivors, with beautiful brick work and tunnels.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £48k was awarded to a group in 2015, called Made, to develop an archive of the company. Sadly, it will take several million to bring the buildings back into good order!

To see the buildings from all angles – check out the report HERE!

Follow the progress of the Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust on Facebook – HERE!

 

Spon Lane, Smethwick, Birmingham, West Midlands, B66 1AB

Chance Brothers Glassworks

Chance Brothers became known as the greatest glass manufacturer in Britain!

They were one of the earliest glass works to carry out the cylinder process in Europe.

The Chance Brothers became the first company to adopt the cylinder method to produce sheet glass, and became the largest British manufacturer of window and plate glass, and optical glasses.

(Robert) Lucas Chance (8 October 1782 – 7 March 1865) bought the British Crown Glass Co’s works in Spon Lane, Birmingham, in 1824. The company specialised in making crown window glass, but ran into difficulty in 1832 and saved by Chance’s brother, William, who happened to own an iron merchants in Great Charles Street, Birmingham. In 1836 Lucas and William became partners and the business was renamed Chance Brothers and Co.

The company were responsible for many ‘break-throughs’, such as the first British cylinder blown sheet glass using French and Belgian workers in 1837 and the development of plate glass, patented by James Timmins Chance, in 1839.

In 1848 a new plant was set up to manufacture crown and flint glass for lighthouse optics, telescopes and cameras.

However, it’s only when you consider the major contracts they had, when you realise their awesomeness :

  • In 1851, the Great Exhibition was held in the incredible Crystal Palace (designed by Joseph Paxton) and the Chance Brothers provided the glazing!
  • Between 1840 and 1860 they were busy glazing the Houses of Parliament!
  • They made the opal glass for the 4 faces of the Westminster Clock Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben bell!
  • They did the ornamental windows for the White House!

They made stained glass windows, ornamental lamp shades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware, glass tubing and specialist types of glass, but the most beautiful work was arguably the lighthouse optics. James Chance cleverly placed lamp in a cage, called an optic and surrounded it with fresnel lenses. They were later rotated and this development enabled them to have signature flashes to aid their identification to navigate by.

The optical components, machinery, and other equipment for lighthouses were distributed all around the world.

As if all this wasn’t enough, they also gave us sunglasses and televisions! They pioneered specialised glass to block UV light and Chance developed cathode ray tubes (CRTs) just before the outbreak of World War II. The tubes at that time were used for radar detection displays, but it was all emerging technology – what a forward thinking company!

They were also a caring group and considered highly by their employees, as per the likes of the Cadbury Brothers. They too built colleges and chapels.

These days, the Glassworks are looking very dilapidated and unloved. The Grade II listed buildings are massive, with 7 floors. They are situated between the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN), Old Main Line and New Main Line canals near the Spon Lane locks. It quite rightly has several Grade II listed warehouses and adjacent canal bridges on the BCN New Main Line. Rather interestingly, snoopers have reported that the remains of the underground glass kilns are impressive survivors, with beautiful brick work and tunnels.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £48k was awarded to a group in 2015, called Made, to develop an archive of the company. Sadly, it will take several million to bring the buildings back into good order!

To see the buildings from all angles – check out the report HERE!

Follow the progress of the Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust on Facebook – HERE!

 

Spon Lane, Smethwick, Birmingham, West Midlands, B66 1AB

Chance Brothers Glassworks
Industry Type : Manufacturing, Manufacturing, Manufacturing
Public or Private Site? : Private Land, Private Land, Private Land
Condition : Ruins and Remnants, Ruins and Remnants, Ruins and Remnants
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