Here you will find details of other resources and links to sites that are supported by GFEnts, together with declarations of interest.
Please click on the links to visit these sites and offer them your support, too.
Superseding the former British Waterways in 2012 and transferring the bulk of the nation's inland waterways assets into the 'third sector' this comprises a number of regional Waterways Partnerships. GF was a member of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership (latterly the Regional Advisory Board) where he held responsibility for digitisation and community engagement. Instrumental in creating the first CRT Places to Visit app he has also examined aspects of, inter alia, hydro-electric generation, art on waterways, website upgrades and media management.
The BGF was formed in 2010 following proposals to close Broadfield House Glass Museum, home to the internationally renowned Stourbridge Glass collection. BGF has since not only facilitated the creation of the White House Cone museum of glass, a brand new world-class facility on the site of the former Stuart works in Wordsley, but has also established itself as an 'honest broker' and an umbrella organisation supporting the wider glass community. GlassCuts is 'the voice of the BGF' and is available free of charge to subscribers via the website. GF is a Trustee with responsibility for PR & Communications.
Once the largest producer of glass in the UK, and particularly famous for its development of the Fresnel lens fitted to virtually every lighthouse around the world, the huge Chance Glassworks on the Smethwick-Oldbury border finally shut its doors in 1981. Today it is in a ruinous state in sore need of attention, but CHT (formerly Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust but since rebranded to accommodate a wider local heritage remit) has ambitious proposals to restore the entire site as a high-end multi-use facility at the core of which will be an ongoing engagement with the community that it will ultimately serve in its new guise. GF was Director of the initial CGWHT with responsibility for PR & Comms (2015 - 2019) and remains a supporter of the revamped Trust's aims.
History West Midlands is an independent website that offers free access to a variety of programmes and different media focussing on the history of the people of the West Midlands, their ideas, innovation and industry. The initiative is designed for anyone who wants to know more about the region and also provides resources for students, learners and educators. All the content is reviewed by academics and is presented in a number of formats including video features on important individuals, movements and events. GF is the interviewer for Black Country Lives in the podcast section and has also contributed to the Portland Vase video (see Videos, this website) and to Edition 4 of the HWM ‘glassmaking special’ magazine. www.historywm.com
To access the podcasts direct click
Founded in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is dedicated to the development and promotion of geographical knowledge, together with its application to the challenges facing society and the environment. As part of their Discovering Britain series www.discoveringbritain.org the Society has compiled a series of walks and trails around the country. The Crystal Canal (*see below) is based on Jewels on the Cut (see Books). GF is adviser to the Society on similar initiatives around the area, several of which (eg. Netherton Bumble Hole, Smethwick Locks and Birmingham Gas Street) already appear on Discovering Britain.
On 15.2.21 GF was appointed Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). This was in recognition of his work with the RGS on the Midlands inland waterways network and the Stourbridge Glass industry, together with wider involvement in social, environmental and educational matters over many years in both professional and voluntary sectors.
(*) The Crystal Canal is suitable for hand-held platforms and is available online with audio facilities or as a hard-copy download. To access The Crystal Canal direct click here.
Formed in 1959 at a time when many canals faced the threat of closure, SWCS is one of the oldest volunteer-based canals societies in the UK and serves to safeguard, promote and develop the interests of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. The Society was instrumental in the formation of Stourbridge Navigation Trust (SNT), now an independent body in its own right but still closely affiliated with SWCS. SNT also revived the famous name of Fellow, Morton & Clayton and now operates The Black Country Man trip boat from its base at The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge. The Stourbridge Canal is the focus for Jewels On The Cut, part of The Trilogy, described in Books. GF was Chairman of SWCS (2005 - 2008) and his tenure during a time of extraordinary changes on the waterways prior to the formation of CRT is recounted in Out of the Chair (see Books).
We are delighted to declare an interest in this enchanting little toll bridge just a mile down the road from The Barn since we use it regularly. Dating from the days of Geo III when such bridges were commonplace, Whitney Toll Bridge is now just one of a handful left in the entire UK.
In the summer of 2017, under previous ownership, it received the prestigious Best Visitor Attraction in Herefordshire award. In order to help ensure its revenue stream for the long term plans were initiated for sympathetic development of the adjoining land. These plans were temporarily curtailed due to ill health that resulted in the proprietors selling up and moving on, but the programme is instead now being implemented by the current incumbents.
Take a look; it's magical.
Herefordshire records only one Victoria Cross holder to have been born in the county; Allan Leonard Lewis in 1895. During the final stages of WW1 Lance Corporal Lewis showed exemplary courage in the final push to break the Hindenburg Line and was killed on 21st September 1918. He has no known grave. The AL Lewis VC Memorial Fund is working with Herefordshire County Council to commission a life-sized bronze statue to stand in Hereford. The Rhydspence Inn (see adjacent) is one of a number of outlets where support and sponsorship is being garnered. Hear more about AL Lewis VC and his compatriots in episode 15 of TFTB; click here or for more information, including Just Giving donations, click here.
Contact the group direct at
Update: The deed is accomplished and Allan's statue now stands in Hereford.
Should you find yourself visiting us here at The Barn then this 14th Century wattle-and-daub residential Inn, one of the oldest in the country and certainly up there with the quirkiest, is most likely the place you will end up for a fulsome repast or cooling libation. As featured in Channel 4's Four In A Bed The Rhydspence is just a few yards across from the end of our driveway, which is already temptation enough; the sheer hospitality of Mark, Lowri and the team inevitably means that further resistance is futile. Peace and quiet set against the backdrop of the Black Mountains with nothing but an historic hostelry over yonder; honestly, sometimes life can deal a cruel hand.
Update: It's still a cracking Inn!
The Black Country Society was founded in 1967 by enthusiasts who felt that the area did not receive due recognition for its huge contribution to the industrial development of Britain and the wider world. The Society's aim is 'to foster interest in the past, present and future of the Black Country' and it was amongst the first to call for the establishment of a local industrial museum. Since the establishment of the Black Country Living Museum the Society has continually supported it and has also forged an enviable reputation in publishing books and magazines about the region together with a varied programme of events.
GF is, of course, a supporter of the society and is a regular contributor to its quarterly magazine The Blackcountryman. Details of contributions are archived on the BCS website
White House Cone museum of glass (WHCmog) is the stunning culmination of efforts by the British Glass Foundation working in partnership with, principally, Dudley MBC and Complex Development Projects Ltd, and with widespread support from the glass industry. The result is a purpose-built world-class facility that will offer a suitable new home for the Stourbidge Glass collection that was previously housed in nearby Broadfield House Glass Museum prior to its closure in 2016. The new museum is virtually complete except for suitable cabinets for the collection and is open to the public as an events venue and gallery. Full completion and museum accreditation is expected towards Summer 2021. Details are on the BGF website (see panel above) and progress can be followed via BGF’s free email bulletin GlassCuts.
Black Country Radio (BCR) is the area’s premier radio station serving the people of the southern Black Country and beyond. The listener demographic is typically, but not exclusively, 30 - 55 years old and the output focuses on local news, sport, events and philanthropic causes. Formed as a consequence of merger between the former 102.5 The ‘Bridge and the on-line Black Country Community Radio it is based in Merry Hill near Dudley and is available on 102.5FM, DAB and online. BCR utilises roadshows to encourage listener interaction at events around the region. The roadshows include live music from local artists and appearances by national celebrities.
GF is a former Chairman of Stourbridge Radio Group Ltd and broadcasts BCR's pre-recorded Community Events Guide together with occasional ‘live’ contributions and podcasts.
As waterways enthusiasts ourselves, we couldn't let this one pass by without mention, not least because in an area with a paucity of canals, when it comes to us craving our 'waterways fix' then these guys and gals are the only show in town. Or at least within a sensible radius of The Barn, that is. Working out of Brecon about 20 miles away Dragon Cruises is a friendly family-run business offering a leisurely 2.5 hour jaunt along one of the most beautiful canals in the UK, plus self-drive day boats for those who prefer to go it alone or in small private groups. Operating on most days between March and October, the trips are open to public bookings but tend to fill up quick so it's best to enquire first. Private charter by arrangement.
Amblecote was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. After many years of agriculture the 17th century saw it succumb to the Industrial Revolution yet without entirely losing its rural character. It is noted for mineral extraction and, the production of iron but is particularly famous for its high-quality glassware. The future of Amblecote is unclear under proposals to amalgamate Dudley into the nebulous 'Birmingham City Region'. AHS aims to preserve and protect the heritage of the area. It offers the usual membership benefits including presentations and a lively social programme but also houses a sizeable historical resource on its website
A contribution from 2012 by GF on the canals of the area, together with a 2018 update, is at AHC History Index under 'C'.
It is almost beyond coincidence that GF's alma mater, where he studied the sciences from 1972 to 1975 - and several decades before his association with glass - should latterly become home to the National Glass Centre. View GF's alumni profile by clicking here and visit the National Glass Centre (University of Sunderland) by clicking here.
In addition to his podcast and video work with West Midlands History (see above and Video) GF contributed to the HWM magazine Glass and Glassmaking 'special' Vol 2 Issue 1 Spring 2014. Read the article here.