The Stourbridge Canal has a unique association with the glassmaking industry. There were once more than 20 glassworks in this area, which was world-famous for cameo glass and cut crystal.
Today the Red House Glass Cone, is one of four remaining glass-making cones in the UK. You can see glass-making demonstrations, explore the underground tunnels and discover the industrial history of the area.
The cone stands beside the pretty Stourbridge 16 lock flight, set in leafy surroundings, with an iron split bridge, an attractive lock cottage and a timber warehouse beside the canal basin.
The towpath of the Stourbridge Canal has been resurfaced and it is easy to walk the entire five-mile length.
In 1662 an Act was passed for making the River Stour navigable from Stourport to Stourbridge, with a view to exploiting the vast mineral resources in the latter area. By 1667 the engineer Andrew Yarranton had carried out the work, only for it to be destroyed by floods three years later. It was almost a century more before the Company of Proprietors of the Stourbridge Navigation was formed with the intention of cutting a canal from the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to the town of Stourbridge for much the same purpose.
The proposal was later to include a link to the Dudley Canal. The resulting Stourbridge Canal, from Stourton Junction to the Dudley No. 1 Canal, provided an essential line of access from the south-west and the Severn to the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It was completed in 1779 and brought coal and other supplies to a glass industry that had thrived around the Stourbridge area since the arrival of the Huguenots. A glass-making cone, one of only a handful now left in the world, lies alongside the flight of 16 locks leading to Brierley Hill. The upper section of the canal wends its way around what was once a burgeoning industrial area, which brought great prosperity to the waterway.
After falling into dereliction in the 1960s, the Stourbridge Canal and its Town Arm have been restored. The terminus of the Stourbridge Arm is now home to moorings and the Bonded Warehouse, a listed structure saved from imminent demolition in the 1980s. It has since become the recipient of various civic awards in its new role as a community facility.