I am regularly invited to comment, offer advice or answer questions from various organisations and individuals so this seems an appropriate repository that may be of help or interest in the first instance.
I aim to be impartial, objective and apolitical and any opinions expressed are purely my own unless stated otherwise. I also acknowledge my fallibility so do feel free to offer comment or suggested corrections and modifications via the Contact facility directly below.
Scroll down for (in order of appearance):
* 'Heart of Glass' feature, Geographical magazine (RGS with IBG)
* Ars Gratia Artis: 'Raise a Glass' - Art Fund and Art Quarterly magazine
* The British Glass Foundation 2009 - 2022
* Historical introduction to Britain's waterways
* The Crystal Canal - a guided walk through history
* School visit: Gigmill Primary School, Norton (Stourbridge) Qs & As
* School visit: Westfield Community Primary School, Wombourne Qs & As
* The canals of Birmingham. A few titivating facts and fancies
* The Stourbridge glass industry then and now
Shortly after the publication of my Jewels on the Cut, an exploration of the Stourbridge Canal and the local glass industry (JoC) in 2010 I was invited by Rory Walsh of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to employ the book as the basis for a guided walk he was compiling as part of the RGS-IBG Discovering Britain series.
Seven years later in 2017, during which time much had taken place including work being well underway on the new Stourbridge Glass Museum, a completely revised JoC (II) was published, which Rory kindly used for updating the existing Discovering Britain walk. View at https://www.discoveringbritain.org/activities/west-midlands/walks/stourbridge-canal.html
The walk along the canal towpath through the heart of the Stourbridge Glass industry still proves popular, especially so since Stourbridge Glass Museum opened to the public on 9th April 2022. Around this time Rory advised me that he was compiling a related feature for Geographical, the official monthly magazine of RGS (with IBG). And here it is; 'Heart of Glass' as seen in the June 2022 edition and which is presented here as a download by kind permission. The relationship and interplay between inland waterways and glass, particularly the Stourbridge Canal, is a theme that has exercised me for these past few years and so I am singularly grateful to Rory Walsh and his colleagues for their support.
Art Fund www.artfund.org was founded in 1903 and is an independent membership-based British charity, which raises funds to aid the acquisition of artworks for the nation. It gives grants and acts as a channel for many gifts and bequests, as well as lobbying on behalf of museums and galleries and their users.
Art Quarterly www.artfund.org/whats-on/art-quarterly is the magazine of Art Fund and is described as: ‘one of the highly valued, exclusive benefits of becoming an Art Fund member. It provides readers with insightful, accessible content and comment on art and artists, and current and upcoming exhibitions in UK museums, galleries and historic house, highlighting the discounted entry and other benefits available to Art Fund members with their National Art Pass as well as the wider work of Art Fund’s charitable programme’.
Prestigious stuff indeed, so GF was delighted and honoured in equal measure to be invited to supply a feature on Stourbridge Glass and the opening of the new Stourbridge Glass Museum. The ensuing article ‘Raise a Glass’ appears in the Summer 2022 edition. It sits alongside a separate article by Skye Sherwin ‘Innovating Through a New lens’ that, based on suggestions furnished by GF, features the work of four glass artists associated with Stourbridge; Vic Bamforth, Terri Colledge, Helen Slater-Stokes and Chris Day.
The two articles extend in total across pages 44 - 51, which represents a considerable amount of positive coverage at a crucial time in the development of Stourbridge Glass Museum. They are presented here as a downloadable pdf with grateful acknowledgements to Art Quarterly.
‘Absolutely spectacular … marvellously important to us ... the best bit of publicity we have ever had.’ Graham Knowles, Chairman British Glass Foundation. 10.3.22
Art Quarterly magazine Spring 2022 edition
This is the most significant event in decades to hit the world of glass and the new museum will generate its own provenance as its reputation develops.
However, there will be those historians yet to be born who may one day wish to know how we arrived here; the tale behind the tale. Compiled by Trustee Graham Fisher MBE in association with Secretary Lynn Boleyn MBE, the team also behind BGF’s regular email bulletin GlassCuts, BGF History 2009 - 2022 is a copiously illustrated major update that provides the answers in the form of a prequel of events from the earliest days of the BGF right up to the museum’s opening.
The challenges, the disappointments and the successes leading to the vision becoming a reality, it’s all here’ (press release dated 25.1.22).
BGF History 2009 – 2022 is free to download but please be advised before printing that it runs to 40 pages.
Stourbridge Glass Museum Hot Studio
Around the time of the new millennium I embarked on ambitious proposals to document the nation's lost and abandoned waterways infrastructure. The A-Z gazetteer of Lost Lines and Neglected Navigations is yet to be completed but the introduction was. So here it is. It offers an overview of the development of waterways from pre-Biblical times through to the 'canal mania' of the 18th Century and their renaissance as a leisure and heritage asset.
Please note this was written in 2004 and there has much happened since, not least the launch of the 'third sector' Canal & River Trust in 2012 that has transformed the role and perception of our inland waterways beyond recognition. Indeed, I flatter myself insomuch that some of the comments made at the time may have since proved prescient; hence I have left the piece as written. (Please beware if you intend to print this off it extends to 11 pages)
This online guide examines the glassworks and other industries along the Stourbridge Branch and part of the Main Line. It was produced by The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as part of their Discovering Britain series (see Links) and is based on my book Jewels on the Cut.
For many years I have been invited to address the youngsters at this school and have always been impressed by the depth of their engagement. My visit in 2021 was curtailed by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions so they instead asked me to answer a list of questions by email and here are my responses to them. These enthusiasts of the future are just 11 years old (Year 6) so take a look at the searching maturity of their questioning and see if you are not equally impressed.
In October 2012 I was kindly invited by the late Mike Perkins of Amblecote History Society to provide a history of the Stourbridge Canal Branch and surrounding area. In March 2018 I was asked to provide an update as to what had occurred in the interim - which was quite a lot actually, not least the impact of the newly-formed Canal & River Trust and British Glass Foundation. (see elsewhere this site). To my great delight both articles are still lodged on the Amblecote History website http://www.amblecote.org
Click here and here to access both. And while you're at it, take a browse around the rest of their site; it is a fascinating examination of a former village that is now part of the greater Stourbridge conurbation.
This address in the classroom was allied with a visit to Bratch Locks, a short walk down the road on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. I was Chairman of the eponymous society 2005-2008 so happen to know it well. (see Out of The Chair, Books)
It was most fortunate that just as the pupils arrived at this unique flight of 3 locks - James Brindley's masterpiece - a narrowboat was heading upstream and so they had the opportunity to see for themselves how it all works.
Here are their Ten Key Facts and five questions to ponder ...
Requested by Canal & River Trust during the author's tenure of its Regional Advisory Board as part of CRT's campaign to promote the waterways of Birmingham and the Black Country, this is a potpourri of facts about the canals around the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).
Accompanying image: journalist and broadcaster John Sergeant at Worcester Bar, Birmingham during filming of ITV's 'Barging Round Britain' series first aired in 2015.
In addition to his podcast and video work with West Midlands History (see Links and Video) GF contributed to the West Midlands History magazine Glass and Glassmaking 'special' Vol 2 Issue 1 Spring 2014. Read the article here.