Some history of the Glasscutters' Arms in Barnett Street at Wordsley in the County of Staffordshire
Tucked away in Barnett Street, the Glasscutters' Arms is perhaps one of the lesser-known public-houses of Wordsley. The thoroughfare seems to have gained an extra 't' over the years. In the 19th century it was often listed as Barnet. Seemingly laid out in the early 19th century the street is just off Barnett Lane. The latter is thought by some historians to form part of the route of the old Roman road originating in Droitwich. The road is thought to be named after a Kingswinford family called Barnet. Edward Barnet was buried at Saint Mary's Church in Kingswinford on April 23rd, 1627. Barnet Lane is marked on both William Yates' map of Staffordshire  and Fowler's 1822 map.¹
© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with kind permission of the National Library of Scotland under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.
The location of the Glasscutters' Arms is marked on the above map extract drawn up in 1882 and published during the following year. The name of the thoroughfare is not shown on this map extract, though it had been named Barnet Street by this stage. Dunbar Street was later named Queen Street. It was listed as such in the census of 1861 but, for some reason, the Dunbar name pervaded in maps and newspaper articles. Rectory Street, a thoroughfare running parallel to the north, was named after the rectory on the opposite side of the turnpike road, the street almost directly facing the driveway to the large house built in 1837. Housing development in these streets was gradual and rather piecemeal. At the time of this survey there were only a handful of buildings in Barnet Street. I have marked the glassworks of J. and J. Northwood which was on the other side of the boundary wall of the Glasscutters' Arms. I will return to this building in due course as it did not commence production until 1859-1860.²
The origins of the sign of the Glasscutters' Arms extends back to around 1840 when it was opened as a beer house by Christopher Young. However, it would appear that this first incarnation of the sign was in a different location. I must acknowledge the work of the census enumerator of 1841. It is unusual for beer houses to be named in this early census but John Hughes took his time on June 10th, 1841 and, writing carefully, recorded many of the significant buildings on his route. Between Workhouse Yard and Church Row he recorded the Glasscutters' Arms where Christopher Young was head of the household.³ His occupation was listed as a glass cutter and engraver. The inn sign he chose for the house not only showed that he was working in the glass industry, it also recognised the large number of glass workers clustered around this area. This not only helped to foster a local identity but encouraged customer loyalty from the local residents - a sound economic decision for many a publican.
The census of 1841 indicates that Christopher Young was a widower with three young children. Also living in the household was the elderly widow Sarah Rider. Her surname, often recorded as Rider, was actually Ryder. Records show the wife of the publican and glasscutter, Sarah Young, had died a few months earlier, aged 35, in March 1841. The elderly Sarah Ryder was probably her mother as her baptism shows that her parents were Joseph and Sarah Ryder. The Ryder clan were dotted around Wordsley, many of whom were engaged in the glass industry. Stourbridge historian, H. Jack Haden, stated that Ryder Street was named after the councillor Benjamin Ryder.⁴
Thought to be the oldest property in the locality, Rose Cottage in Barnett Lane was home to members of the Ryder family for a couple of centuries. It is widely claimed that it was once a tavern known by the Sign Of The Finger, though I have not substantiated this. It is a fact, however, that the land around the building was known as Finger Piece. The Ryder family's connection with the cottage came to and end in the late 20th century when the spinster Ruth Ryder died. She had operated a small shop during the Second World War. Her brother, Cecil, was himself a glasscutter.⁵
© Extract from Staffordshire Advertiser : March 20th, 1847 Page 2.
The above newspaper extract recorded the hearing of Christopher Young, an insolvent debtor, at Stafford in March 1847. The notice shows that during his time at the Glasscutters' Arms he was also recorded as a licensed brewer. It is therefore most likely that Christopher Young was producing ales in an outbuilding to the rear of the beer house. Despite multi-tasking, the publican found himself in the financial mire, culminating in this hearing at Stafford. By this time he was lodging in the High Street at Stourbridge. His son, Christopher, continued his career as a glasscutter. Moving to Collis Street at Amblecote, he possibly worked at the Dennis Glassworks. His younger brother, John, was also employed as a glasscutter.
The building housing the earlier Glasscutters' Arms was held on copyhold, though I suspect that the Ryder family were connected with the property. The aforementioned Rose Cottage on Barnett Lane was occupied by the glassmaker William Ryder in the 1840s. Daughter of a William Ryder, Mary Ann, married William Newman at Kinver parish church on Christmas Day 1840. In the census of 1851 the couple were living at Pear Tree Lane at Dudley from where William Newman worked as a wheelwright. Ten years later they were living in what would become Barnett Street. The census enumerator, Benjamin Round, listed them between Queen Street and Barnett Lane, the following entry being the Ryder family at Rose Cottage.
© Extract from County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire : September 19th, 1857 Page 1.
The Newman household was one of only two properties recorded in Eight Lands in 1861, the other being the home of glassmaker Henry Hammond and his family.⁶ The above notice, advising the public that the Wordsley Freehold Land Society were acquiring two fields named Eight Lands and Finger Piece, brings us closer to the history of the 'new' Glasscutters' Arms. Following the Reform Act of 1832, a number of freehold land societies were formed in the UK, a principal aim being to provide the vote and home ownership for working men. Note that the announcement was signed by Philip Pargeter, a glass engraver who would later own the Red House Glass Works.⁷ As a form of building society, the body at Wordsley was rather late in the day but did make provision for the industrious proletariat of the area. It would seem that William Newman, perhaps with help from the Ryder family, seized his opportunity to become a freeholder.
Lye-born William Newman, was recorded as a carpenter in the census of 1861.⁶ However, he strived to open a hostelry and revive the sign of the Glasscutters' Arms. He paid the requisite three guineas to the excise and established a beer house for the property erected on the plot acquired via the Wordsley Freehold Land Society.
© Photo taken by author on August 23rd, 2023. DO NOT COPY
Although a carpenter by trade, William Newman, who had a son working as a glasscutter, wisely revived the sign of the Glasscutters' Arms. It was a no-brainer really, for on the adjacent plot of land, John Northwood, a former carpenter-turned-glass engraver had, along with his business partners, established a glass decorating business. Interpreting the symbol adjoining the premises on the ordnance survey map of 1883 [see above] as a small kiln, I did write that the hot conditions under which the thirsty glass workers toiled would have created an instant customer base. However, James Measall, Honorary Research Fellow at Birmingham University and a trustee of the Stourbridge Glass Museum, informed me that the "Northwood glass enterprise was a glass decorating concern [especially etching], so there would not be the intense heat of a glass manufacturing plant. Nonetheless, J&J employees surely looked forward to refreshments at the Glasscutters' Arms."
© Image courtesy of James Measall. DO NOT COPY
Image reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.
The new glass works was operated by brothers John and Joseph Northwood. It was just over the garden wall of the Glasscutters' Arms that one of the most famous works of cameo glass was created. As a 12 year-old, John Northwood was apprenticed to W. H., B. & J. Richardson where, in the decorating section, he honed skills in painting, gilding and enamelling.⁸ When the factory closed down, he went to work in carpentry for his older brother William, a local builder. However, when Benjamin Richardson re-opened the factory in 1852, John Northwood returned to his true vocation.⁹ It was in 1859 that he entered into a partnership with Henry Gething Richardson and Thomas Guest, establishing their works on the adjacent plot acquired by the Wordsley Freehold Land Society. John Northwood brought his brother Joseph into the business and when the partnership was dissolved in 1860, they carried on the business as J. & J. Northwood.¹⁰
© Image courtesy of James Measall. DO NOT COPY
Legend has it that John Northwood and his cousin Philip Pargeter had often seen and envied the Portland vase in the British Museum. The pair were also admirers of the reproduction in pottery at Josiah Wedgwood's factory in The Potteries. Indeed, they became a tadge obsessed with the Portland vase, perhaps as a result of a competition to duplicate it in glass, with factory-owner Benjamin Richardson offering a £1,000 prize to anyone who could create such a piece. Philip Pargeter, it is said, remarked to John Northwood that he could make the vase if he could decorate it. John Northwood, working with etching tools that he invented himself, was confident that he could pull it off. It took some three years to complete the highly-skilled work and the vase was completed in 1876. It is regarded as one of the most important works in glass and is housed in the Corning Museum of Glass in New York State.¹¹
© Image courtesy of James Measall. DO NOT COPY
Kindly sent to me by James Measall, this is the only known photograph of the interior of the works of at J. & J. Northwood. The firm evidently employed women to operate the etching machinery.
John Northwood's magnus opus must have been a topic of conversation in the neighbouring Glasscutters' Arms. His employees no doubt witnessed the slow progress of the vase as John Northwood applied his skills to the piece. They would probably report on progress whilst sipping their drinks in the Glasscutters' Arms. It was only beer or cider that they could drink in those days as the pub did not have a full licence. At the Stewponey Licensing Meeting of August 1866 William Newman, supported by Mr. Maltby, was one of fourteen applicants for a full licence. He was unsuccessful. Indeed, only four publicans were granted their full licence at these Sessions. William Newman applied again at the Sessions of 1868 but was again unsuccessful.
© Image courtesy of Rakow Research Library and published under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.
During the latter part of the 20th century and in the 21st century the inn sign hanging outside the building displayed what I initially thought was a young John Northwood. However, the above photograph, from the Leonard and Juliette Rakow Collection, is almost certainly the inspiration for the inn sign. Compare the inn sign with the glass artist in the foreground. The photograph was contained in an album owned by Alice Woodall, the daughter of George Woodall, the man seated on the right clutching a carving point. He is posing with a vase but the photograph was set up to show what was known as "The Woodall Team" with The Great Tazza. William Hill is seated to the left, the men standing are L-R : Tom Farmer, Harry Davies, J. T. Fereday and Tom Woodall.
George and Thomas Woodall were apprentices to John Northwood. Thomas was educated at the Wordsley National School and Stourbridge School of Art. He is thought to have worked on the preparatory stages of the Portland Vase. He and his brother, who also came through the School of Art, joined Thomas Webb and Sons in the mid-1870s.¹² James Measall informed me that the above photograph would have been taken at the Webb factory. Both George and Thomas Woodall created some of the finest cameo pieces and their works command fantastic sums when sold at auction. George Woodall is regarded as the best glass cameo cutter to emerge during the Victorian period, though others claim that his brother was the most brilliant of the cameo sculptors.
© Extract from County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire : December 14th, 1878 Page 1.
I have not seen any evidence that William Newman was brewing ales behind the pub. However, this notice for an auction sale of the Cliff House, at nearby Buckpool, suggests that William Newman was involved with the production of ales within a property adjoining. When not engaged with the running of the Glasscutters' Arms, William Newman continued to work as a foundry carpenter and wheelwright. His sons, John and Samuel, followed in his footsteps as carpenters. Other children would fly the nest and follow different career paths. However, the couple's daughter, Jane, remained at the house and worked in the Glasscutters' Arms.
Mary Ann Newman died in October 1887 and four years later William Newman passed away. Ownership of the Glasscutters' Arms passed to daughter, Jane Newman, the licence of the house being transferred to her on October 10th, 1892.¹³ In the following October she married the widower Alfred Ryder, a glasscutter of Barnett Lane. He had two young children, Benjamin and Violet, from his previous marriage to Phoebe Ann Bratt. The licence of the Glasscutters' Arms passed to him on January 15th, 1894. Ownership of the property however remained with Jane. She was a widow within a short period as Alfred Ryder died in June 1896. In the following petty sessions held on August 10th, 1896, the licence of the Glasscutters' Arms was returned to Jane Ryder.
The above extract from the licence register shows that the Glasscutters' Arms was still only retailing beer and cider in the late Victorian era. The house would not be fully licensed until the post-war years.
Image on display inside the Glasscutters' Arms
In the spring of 1900 Jane Ryder re-married to widower Arthur Lashford, a native of Wollaston. The above image can be found in a frame on the wall of the Glasscutters' Arms. It appears to be a photocopy so is rather sketchy - but, hey, better than no image at all. I believe the photograph was captured around 1902 as a young baby is featured sitting on the lap of Arthur Lashford. He was younger than his wife Jane who is probably the woman stood outside the front door of the Glasscutters' Arms. The baby is almost certainly Ivy Lashford, a girl born in January 1901. She married Horace Sutton in 1923 and lived at No.7 Rectory Street. This was the house that her parents had bought when they gave up the Glasscutters' Arms in 1905. Arthur Lashford died at a relatively early age in June 1910. Jane Lashford, widow and former landlady of the Glasscutters' Arms, lived comfortably in retirement in Rectory Street until her death on May 13th, 1930.
Following the long association of the Newman/Ryder families with the Glasscutters' Arms, the pub was taken over by Frederick Warren in the mid-Edwardian period. The beer house was one of nine public-houses that were operated by his brewery behind the Plough Inn at Church Street in Brierley Hill. Both the Plough Inn and brewery were owned by George Elwell of the Delph Brewery. In his will dated 1908 he left the Plough Inn, brewery and cash, to his daughter Agnes, wife of Frederick Warren. It was Albert Elwell, a member of the extended family, who was initially installed as manager of the Glasscutters' Arms.
In 1909 Frederick Loach took over as licensee and remained at the Glasscutters' Arms for three decades. I suspect he was the same Frederick Loach that had previously kept the Bottle and Glass Inn at Brockmoor, the pub rebuilt in the Black Country Museum. Born in 1870 at Moor Lane in Brockmoor, he was the son of the grocers and fruiterers John and Emily Loach. His second marriage, he tied the knot with Matilda Skidmore in October 1903. Frederick Loach seemed to have been helping with the family grocery business when he suffered an accident in October 1913. He was loading flour into a cart at Messrs. Webb's flour mills when, in stepping from a platform on to one of the spokes of the wheel, he slipped, owing to the horse starting, and broke his leg. He was removed to the Glasscutters' Arms and attended by Dr. Taylor.¹⁴
One of the key annual events hosted by Frederick and Matilda Loach was the dinner held by the Dividend Club, an important local collective that acted as a safety net for those in need during sickness. Although a serious meeting during which the club's finances were disclosed, along with the announcement of any dividend, these were social occasions in which the members enjoyed a supper in the Glasscutters' Arms, following which the evening was spent in musical fashion.¹⁵
The Loach family managed the Glasscutters' Arms during its transition from being a house selling local beers to an outlet of one of Birmingham's brewing concerns. Following the death of brewer and publican Frederick Warren in 1924, the small estate of tied-houses was sold. An auction sale was held by Alfred Dando & Co. at the Dudley Arms Hotel in March 1926. The Glasscutters' Arms was described as: "Under management, a pleasantly situated substantially-erected double-fronted property occupying a large area of land. The accommodation includes: Entrance passage from front to back, front smoke-room, front tap-room. Back bar and living kitchen combined. Side entrance to a scullery. Three bedrooms and a club room. In a large yard with double gateway approach at the side, the whole forming a most compact and desirable property and capable of doing a good trade." The property realised £1,775 and was knocked down to agents acting on behalf of Frederick Smith Limited. A freehold villa residence immediately adjoining the Glasscutters' Arms, known as Hillsboro, and let to Mrs. Brindley, was also sold at this time. I suspect that this property stood on what is now the pub car park.
There was a tragic incident at the Glasscutters' Arms one Saturday in the summer of 1933. A grandson of Frederick and Matilda Loach, 11 year-old Alfred Frederick Loach, of Campbell Street in Brockmoor, was playing at the rear of the pub when he slipped from the roof of a brick-built dog kennel. In his fall the poor lad came into contact with a wire clothes' line. His grandmother, Matilda, attended to him and the boy appeared little worse for the fall. However, the next morning he was ill so his parents called in Dr. Butterworth, of Pensnett. After examining the boy, he ordered his removal to Corbett Hospital, where he died on the Monday. His injuries included a fractured skull.¹⁶
The Glasscutters' Arms was granted a full licence in February 1952. Three years later Frederick Smith Limited was acquired by William Butler's Springfield Brewery of Wolverhampton. The beer selection at the Glasscutters' Arms would have changed and no longer would the locals enjoy the highly-regarded Aston beers. William and Alice Mason kept the house for Butler's in the 1950s. During the Second World War he worked as a stock-keeper at a glass works. As a widow, Alice continued as landlady until 1968.
I am very grateful to Marilyn Guest who has kindly allowed me to reproduce this photograph. Marilyn is not sure when the photograph was taken but it belonged to her uncle, Tommy Pulley of Church Road and shows a group of bowlers at the Glasscutters' Arms. I would think it is c.1960 as the licensee William Mason is featured in the photograph. Wearing a waistcoat, he is in the centre of the group in the back row. With help from members of the Wordsley Born An Bred & Friends.. FB group, many of the people have been identified. Back row L to R : Gerald Banks, Tommy Smith, Joe Jones, ?, William Mason, Hugh Weeks, Tommy Pulley, Trevor Cadman, Ronnie Hale. Front row L to R : Ernest Cadman, Ronnie Thompson, Betty Banks [Sutton], ?, ?.
In the 1980s the Glasscutters' Arms was operated by Shrewsbury & Wem Brewery Co. Ltd., a brewery that enjoyed a great deal of autonomy despite being taken over by Greenall Whitley & Co. Ltd. in 1951. It was Shrewsbury & Wem that applied to extend the existing bowling green to the rear of the pub. The old bowling green had been in existence since the inter-war years. The brewery applied to extend the playing surface across part of the old beer garden.
© Photo taken by author on September 8th, 1999. DO NOT COPY
I visited this pub in the late 1990s and, although I found it to be quite agreeable, it only sold Bass. Accordingly, my visits were limited to a couple of occasions. The pub was then being run by David and Ann Whitehouse, a couple that seemed to run a tight ship. They had actually met in the pub some years previously so the Glasscutters' Arms formed an important part of their lives.
© Photo taken by author on September 8th, 1999. DO NOT COPY
I took a couple of photographs inside the Glasscutters' Arms during 1999. Taken with an early digital camera with limited resolution, they are not great photographs but at least they afford a glimpse of the pub run by David and Ann Whitehouse. The interior had been altered but the combined bar and lounge was still quite cosy. The room was once a bar, snug, outdoor and private accommodation but was being served by a horseshoe-shaped servery.
© Photo taken by author on September 8th, 1999. DO NOT COPY
The Glasscutters' Arms had a very comfortable decor, lending a congenial atmosphere. The room was carpeted throughout and had deep blue upholstery. The fake beams were decorated with a collection of brasses. The walls also featured many some interesting pictures, largely depicting local history and community events. In addition, there were prints of the pub's clientele enjoying some collective fun. For example, there was a montage of photographs taken on a trip to Blackpool complete with an ode written by a local teacher.
The interior walls of the Glasscutters' Arms in 1999 also had photographs of the Glasscutters' Bowling Club and some of Wordsley Wasps F.C., a team that based their headquarters here. Also to be found in the pub was a collection of steam trains which were much appreciated by local enthusiasts, in particular Geoffrey Aimes, who kept the pub with his partner in the early 1970s. A retired railwayman, he also ran the pub's dominoes team. Another theme throughout the pub was a collection of blue plates. The former snug had two large maps on display. One represented Wolverhampton, Walsall and adjacent Districts and the other Dudley, Smethwick and Stourbridge and adjacent Districts. Both dated back some 50 years and the former originated from the old Cradley Heath bus depot.
In July 2023, the Glasscutters' Arms, operated by Punch Pubs & Co., was acquired by the Red Pub Company, a firm based at Bloomfield Road in Tipton.
1. Haden, H. Jack  "Street Names Of Stourbridge And Its Vicinity" Kingswinford : The Dulston Press; p.30.
2. Ellis, Jason  "Glassmakers Of Stourbridge And Dudley 1612-2002" Harrogate : Jason Ellis; p.334.
3. 1841 England Census HO 107/996/3 : Staffordshire > Kingswinford > District 2, Page 16.
4. Haden, H. Jack  "Street Names Of Stourbridge And Its Vicinity" Kingswinford : The Dulston Press; p.289.
5. 1939 England and Wales Register : Staffordshire > Brierley Hill Urband District > ORGA > Registration District 372-2.
6. 1861 England Census RG 9/2069 : Staffordshire > Kingswinford > District 4, Page 22.
7. Ellis, Jason  "Glassmakers Of Stourbridge And Dudley 1612-2002" Harrogate : Jason Ellis; p.336.
8. "Death Of Mr. John Northwood" : County Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire; February 15th, 1902. p.5.
9. Ellis, Jason  "Glassmakers Of Stourbridge And Dudley 1612-2002" Harrogate : Jason Ellis; p.333.
10. Northwood II, John  "John Northwood, his Contribution to the Stourbridge Glass Industry" Stourbridge : Mark and Moody Limited; p.8.
11. "Replica of the Portland Vase" within Corning Museum of Glass [Glass Collection] <https://glasscollection.cmog.org>, Accessed January 3rd, 2024.
12. Ellis, Jason  "Glassmakers Of Stourbridge And Dudley 1612-2002" Harrogate : Jason Ellis; pp.460-1.
13. Kingswinford Licening Register 1894-98 Entry 104 October 10th, 1892.
14. "Wordsley" : County Express; October 18th, 1913, p.5.
15. "Annual Supper" : County Express; January 1st, 1910, p.6.
16. "Brockmoor Boy's Fatal Fall" : Dudley Chronicle; August 10th, 1933, p.5.
"The annual meeting of Wordsley Cricket Club was held at the house of Mr W. Newman, Glasscutters' Arms Inn, on Saturday last,
when the members and friends sat down to an excellent supper. Afterwards, Mr. J. Aston was called to the chair, and read the accounts of the season, which showed the
club to be in a prosperous condition. Thirteen matches had been played, ten being won and three drawn. Songs and recitations were given by members of the club, and a
convivial evening was spent."
"Wordsley Cricket Club"
County Express : November 6th 1880 Page 8
"The annual supper of the Dividend Club was held recently, when a large company enjoyed the excellent catering of the host and hostess,
Mr. and Mrs. Loach. Subsequently Mr. J. Southall was voted to the chair. The secretary presented the report, which was considered good, after a very heavy year of
sickness, each member receiving a dividend of 19s. 6d. The remainder of the evening was spent in harmony. Songs were rendered by Messrs. E. Southall, J. Southall,
G. Southall, and H. Newman, and gramophone selections by Mr. D. Morgan. Mr. J. Goodman acted as accompanist. Votes of thanks to the chairman and the host and hostess
concluded a most enjoyable evening."
County Express : January 1st 1910 Page 6
"A fancy dress outing as a cow has won a Stourbridge man an exotic holiday. Mr. Tim Gall, of Barnett Street, Wordsley, and his
girlfriend's father turned up at their local pub dressed up as the pantomime cow. Now Tim has won a holiday for two at Hong Kong in a contest for the most
unusual New Year's Eve fancy dress who visited a Wem or Davenport's pub. Their local is the Glasscutters' Arms, Wordsley."
"Tim's Over The Moo-n!"
Sandwell Evening Mail : February 15th 1988 Page 5
"A Wordsley pub with a well-maintained bowling green has been put up for sale. The Glasscutters' Arms, in Barnett Street, is
being marketed by Matthew Phillips Surveyors Limited in Sutton Coldfield, with offers in excess of £265,000 invited. News of the sale has come as a bit of a
shock to landlord Dave Robins who has run the pub for the last year-and-a-half. He said: "I've put a lot of effort in, it's a shame.
I'm going to be jobless and homeless unless I find something else." Dave, aged 53, who has been in the pub trade for more than a decade, said the pub has
grown a thriving crown green bowls club which now boasts five teams, and it also has a darts team. The pub, which is owned by Punch Pubs & Co., comes with a
paved beer patio with smoking area to the rear, a 13-space car park and bowling green, viewing area and clubroom, plus two-bedroom living accommodation.
Stephen Radford, head of estates at Punch Pubs & Co., said: "As part of our ongoing business strategy, we do from time to time identify a site that
may no longer have a long-term future in our estate. After careful consideration, the decision has been made to sell the freehold of the Glasscutters'
Arms, Wordsley, with the transaction now progressing."
"The Glasscutters' Arms Put Up For Sale"
by Bev Holder in Stourbridge News : April 6th 2023