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Thomas Webb and Sons Ltd

On the 25th of December 1829, an agreement was signed between brothers Benjamin Richardson and William Haden Richardson, and Thomas Webb (I), creating the firm ‘Webb and Richardsons’ at the Wordsley Flint Glassworks.

Thomas Webb’s father was a partner in ‘Shepherd and Webb’ trading from The White House Glassworks, also in Wordsley, and when he died in 1835, he left his share of the business to Thomas. John Shepherd retired in 1836 and sold his share of the business to Thomas. Thomas Webb now had stakes in the Wordsley Flint Glassworks and The White House Glassworks. He then concentrated his efforts on the latter, and by mutual agreement, he separated from the Richardson brothers.

In 1836, Thomas Webb decided to build a new glassworks at ‘The Platts’ in Amblecote. By 1851 he relocated from The Platts to Dennis Hall, in Dennis Park, Amblecote. This site had been used intermittently for glassmaking since 1691 and by 1855 Thomas Webb was in occupation of Dennis Hall and had built a new glassworks at the rear.

Thomas Webb (I) retired in 1863 and business continued under his sons Charles and Thomas Wilkes Webb (II). When Thomas Webb (I) died in 1869 they brought in a third brother, Walter Wilkes Webb, as partner.

Thomas Wilkes Webb (II) can be credited with making the firm internationally famous. Over the years they won numerous awards celebrating their innovation and high-quality products. They were awarded the Grand Prix for glass at the 1878 Paris International Exhibition, where the French government also gave Thomas Wilkes Webb the Legion of Honor.

In November 1886 the firm became a public company, with the brothers all sitting as Managing Directors. Also on the Board was Clement F. Wedgwood, great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood. Thomas Wilkes Webb (II) died in 1891.

On 25th June 1920, the firm became incorporated as a limited company under the name of ‘Thos. Webb and Sons Limited’. It then became part of a new company called ‘Webb’s Crystal Glass Co. Limited’, which also housed the Edinburgh and Leith Flint Glass Co., which in 1955 became the Edinburgh Crystal Glass Co.

In the early 1930s, the well-established firm of Henry G. Richardson & Sons was acquired by Webb’s, who continued to produce Richardson patterns at the Dennis Hall Glassworks under the Richardson name.

The glass industry suffered in the 1930s as it was hard to compete with imported glass; workers on the continent were cheaper but their production output was higher. After the appointment of Carl Gottwald Sven Harald Fogelberg in 1932 as the General Manager of Webb’s Crystal Glass Co. Ltd, both companies underwent a period of modernisation. Fogelberg had been the Managing Director of the Kosta Glassworks in Sweden, succeeding his father who had held the post from 1905 until 1926.

Crown House Limited acquired Webb’s Glass Co. Limited in 1964. Part of their group was Dema Glass, which needed to expand its operations and benefitted from the association with fine-quality products. On the other side of this, the Thomas Webb and Edinburgh Crystal factories gained further investment and were able to continue trading.

In 1971, Webb’s Crystal Glass Co. Limited was merged with Dema Glass Limited.

In 1978, Thos. Webb and Co. Limited gained a Supreme Award at the International Spring Fair for a Bristol Blue ships decanter by David Hammond, Dema’s Chief Designer.

Unfortunately, Dema was taken over by the Coloroll Group in 1987, which subsequently collapsed in 1989. As a result, Thos. Webb and Sons Limited was forced to close in 1990 as it was determined to be more profitable to save Edinburgh Crystal as it was a recognised brand in North America.

Thomas Webb and Sons was the second longest-running British glass factory, with a history spanning around 150 years.

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