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Webb Corbett Crystal

‘Thomas Webb and Corbett Ltd’ was founded in 1897 by brothers (Charles Walter) Herbert and Thomas Webb (the third), and their distant cousin George Harry Corbett. Herbert and Thomas’ father, Thomas Wilkes Webb (Thomas Webb the second) was the second generation at the helm of the Stourbridge-based firm Thomas Webb and Sons Ltd.

Originally established at the White House Glass Works in Wordsley, they acquired the Tutbury Glass Works near Burton-on-Trent in 1906. After a devastating fire at the Wordsley factory, production was relocated to the Coalbournhill Glass Works in Amblecote, Stourbridge, in 1913.

The company initially went with existing trends, producing rock crystal under the guidance of William Kny, who was the manager of the decorating shop and was eventually promoted to a director’s role in 1910.

Just before the First World War, the company introduced a range of enamelled glass that set them apart from their contemporaries. In the early 1920s, they launched a range of coloured glass called ‘Agate Flambé’ which was marketed as ‘the New English Art Glass’. It is thought that inspiration for this line was drawn from pottery companies such as Royal Doulton and Ruskin, as well as the moss agate glass produced by Stevens and Williams at the turn of the century.

Albert Oakden, a former teacher at the Brierley Hill School of Art, joined the firm in the 1930s and together with Herbert Webb, the Chairman and Managing Director at the time, they designed numerous iconic pieces of Art Deco glass. By 1946 both men had died, and the role of designer was filled by the innovative Irene Stevens. Stevens believed that the cut designs should complement the shape and form of a piece, as well as accentuate the highly refined qualities and brilliance of English crystal.

In 1953, the company changed its name from Thomas Webb and Corbett Ltd to Webb Corbett Ltd, and in 1957 took over local firm Harbridge Crystal.

The Royal Doulton Company wanted to expand their already successful fine china business, so in 1969 they acquired Webb Corbett. The Webb Corbett name was still used until 1980 when the company began labelling products as ‘Royal Doulton Crystal by Webb Corbett’.

In 1986 the Webb Corbett name was dropped altogether, and products were marketed solely under the Royal Doulton brand.

Royal Doulton Crystal closed the Tutbury factory in 1980, and in 1999 the Stourbridge site was finally shut down. Fortunately, this site was sold to executives of the Ruskin Mill educational centre in Stroud, who established the Ruskin Glass Centre in 2000.

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