Row over plans to move collection to Red House Glass Cone, Stourbridge
Campaigners and experts have attacked Dudley Council over its plans to move a glass collection to the Red House Glass Cone, Stourbridge.
At a public forum, cost-saving proposals, which involve the closure of the Broadfield House Glass Museum in Kingswinford, were criticised as lacking vision.
William Fludgate, chairman of the British Society of Scientific Glass Blowers, travelled 100 miles to take part in the joint council meeting of Brierley Hill and Stourbridge Area Committees.
“I’m absolutely aghast,” he said, claiming the Cone, in Wordsley High Street, would not offer enough natural light for exhibiting glass properly.
The council wants to close Broadfield House, saving £120,000 a year, and move at least some of the 6,000-strong glass collection, much of which is in storage, from there to the Cone, where it claims it could create a “top-class” museum.
L and R Consulting, a firm commissioned by the authority to carry out a feasibility study into the plans, revealed at the meeting that the cheapest of three options for moving sites would involve a big reduction in exhibition space.
Two other options, involving use of the Stuart Crystal buildings, which are up for sale next to the Cone, would cost between £3 million and £5 million to bring to fruition, excluding maintenance costs, L and R director Peter Middleton admitted.
He said the prospect of securing easy funding was bleak.
“The Lottery era of plenty is over,” he told the meeting.
Jan Hendry, leader of the Kingswinford-based Save Our Glass Heritage group, said the area had “the best glass collection in the world” and called for any new facility to include a hot glass studio, space for archives and lecture facilities, as well as exhibition space.
“I don’t see the Cone site as the best site for this,” she added.
Campaigners are calling for a National Glass Museum to be created and are veering towards the idea of finding a completely new site where a purpose-made building could be created. They say traffic and parking problems at and near the Cone are impossible to solve.
A number of councillors, including Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Dave Tyler (Kingswinford North and Wall Heath) and Coun Rachel Harris (Lab, Brierley Hill) said the museum should be run by a trust rather than the council.
Consultants revealed that a survey had yet to be carried out to make sure the Cone was structurally sound. This would take place if the council decided at its December cabinet meeting that it wanted to move on to the second phase of the study.