Chance Brothers: pioneering glassmaking technology

For about 150 years the Smethwick Company of Chance Brothers was one of the most important and innovative pioneers of glassmaking in the world.

Such was its importance Chance Brothers was rightly called "The greatest glass manufacturer in Britain."

In 1851 the company produced the glazing for the Crystal Palace which housed the Great Exhibition as well as providing the opal glass for the four faces of the Westminster Clock Tower housing Big Ben. At about this time, Chance Brothers became the most important engineer of the lighthouses which were built around Britain and throughout the British Empire. Today these lighthouses remain a famous part of seascapes all over the world.

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

KEYWORDS: Glass, Chances, Smethwick, Black Country, Lighthouses, Elihu Burritt, Crystal Palace, Great Exhibition, Big Ben, Chances Glassworks Heritage Trust

In Black Country, Chance Brothers, Glass,


Dr Malcolm Dick

Thanks to:

Toby Chance, Media Archive for Central England, Point Cabrillo Light Keepers Association, Green Man Digital, David P. Encill, Library of Congress, Henry Musielak, Film Birmingham