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£10 million masterplan for historic Smethwick glassworks

Sandwell | News | Published:

A £10 million masterplan will see an historic former glassworks site brought back to life after being derelict for years.

A lighthouse could even be installed at the Chance Brothers Glassworks site as a tribute to the work once carried out there.

The eight-acre site, including the iconic seven-storey building overlooking the M5, will be revamped and could see homes and shops built.

The Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust said it was aiming to create a mixed-use development.

It is hoped the development could be created in the next 10 years. The masterplan is at an embryonic stage, with the trust concentrating on trying to find the £10m of funding it would need to bring the ambitious scheme to fruition. Major developers would also need to be brought on board.

Group trustee Graham Fisher said several companies had already shown an interest.

He said: "We are looking to regenerate the whole area. It will be a mixed development, including homes, offices and retail.

"This represents a fantastic opportunity to undertake a high-end development on a prestigious site in the West Midlands which will help focus on the heritage which made the area so great.

"It will be within the next 10 years – five to seven years from when we put the shovels in the ground, whenever that may be."

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The Chance Brothers Glassworks off Spon Lane was a household name in its heyday and around 90 per cent of all reflective glass used for lighthouses around the world was produced by the firm. The glass face on London's Big Ben was also made in Smethwick.

Various buildings remain but the main feature of the site is the prominent 19th century seven-storey building, which is covered in scaffolding close to junction one of the M5.

Mr Fisher said: "We are aiming for something special. It lends itself to homes – it would make for wonderful flats or studio apartments."

Mr Fisher said the development would retain much of the site's rich history.

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"There will be a heavy emphasis on heritage," he said.

"We would like to place a lighthouse there as Chance were famous for making lighthouse equipment. We are also looking into the possibility of having a beacon that could be seen from miles away."

The Smethwick plant was closed in 1981 with all flat glass production being absorbed by Pilkington's St Helens factories.

Remaining glass tube processing was moved to Chance's other branch in Malvern.

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