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Stuart Crystal - the story behind the product

Stuart Crystal story – a reflection by Nicol.

I wouldn't write about this if my attention had not been held back by a detail that made me reflect: a ruthless fate can turn into a remarkable life. Seeing the two crystal bowls offered by Auld Curiosities I was curious about this Stuart Crystal brand. So I found out that Stuart Crystal’s story is about an orphan little boy who was sent to work in a glass factory outside Stourbridge, west of Birmingham. It happened in 1927.

The orphan's name was Frederick Stuart and the glass factory was Redhouse Glassworks on the Crystal Mile. If we imagine the 100 feet high brick cones with the coal furnaces in the middle filling the air with soot where the little orphan had to work we realize how hard must of been for him, a child. But the hard work and the austere conditions didn't brake him, on the contrary. At the age of 36 he set up the firm of Mills, Webb & Stuart and after that his descendants carried on and dominated the tradition and the firm that became their family business. Stuart & Sons became the owners of the Redhouse Glassworks in 1920. In 1936 a new cone was built and the activity moved in a new location. Stuart Crystal items were present along the history in a remarkable way. They were on many ocean liners including Titanic. A collection of 22,000 items was made for the Queen Mary ocean liner in 1930's. They say that Stuart Crystal glasses were used as gifts sent by royalty and heads of state.

In 1995 the firm was bought by Waterford Wedgwood and in 2001 was closed forever but the iconic Red Cone was never demolished becoming a museum. Today it is the best preserved cone out of only four such glass making cones left in the whole UK. I intend to visit this museum sometime when the world will be free from this pandemic.

It is remarkable that Auld Curiosities offers at least two of the Stuart Crystal items: the vintage 'Sandringham' pattern fruit bowl and the 1921 Stuart Crystal rimmed crystal bowl."



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