22 October 2012

Red House Glass Cone Museum

Once at the heart of the glass-making industry, surrounded by numerous cousins, the Grade II* listed glass cone in Wordsley, Stourbridge, is the only complete survivor in the area, and one of only four left in the United Kingdom. Brick-built, 90 feet high, and 60 feet across at its base, the cone was erected in 1790 by Richard Bradley and his brother-in-law George Ensell. 

The cone was used by Stuart Crystal until 1936. It was built originally, though, for the manufacture of window glass. This history is reflected in a pair of kiln-formed float glass curtains, by Robyn Smith and Robert Foxall Colley. The glass has been sand-blasted to form the pattern of lace curtains.

15 October 2012

The Floozie in the Jacuzzi

Victoria Square, Birmingham, has to one side the Council House, designed by Yeoville Thomason and completed in 1879 (above); and adjoining this the Town Hall of 1834 (below), actually a concert venue famous for its pipe organ, and designed by Joseph Hansom - he of the cabs - and Edward Welch.

When the square was pedestrianised in 1993 sculptor Dhruva Mistry won the international design competition for a central water feature. Weighing in at almost two tons, a fountain called The River dominates the upper pool. This is known locally as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi and, as currently, occasionally sports various articles of clothing.

07 October 2012

Redline It

The Gilbert & Barker Manufacturing Co. began making petrol pumps around 1902, and started using the brand name of Gilbarco in 1935. This pump has a Gilbarco nameplate, but is to the skeleton designs of a decade earlier. It's closest to a T-81 of the 1920s, but isn't one. The pump has been media-blasted and powder-coated, the hose treated with tyre shine, and the brass work stripped and sprayed with clear lacquer.

Redline was a brand of the Union Petroleum Products Co. Ltd, incorporated in London in 1914. Union was clearly a nationalistic choice of name: the German company of British Petroleum Ltd had largely controlled motor spirit distribution until its assets were seized at the start of WWI (YMGW passim). By 1927 Union had changed its name to the Redline Motor Spirit Co. Ltd. The arrowhead symbol was adopted around 1930, making it perfect for a G&B pump of the period. After WWII Redline was taken over by the Anglo-American Oil Co., which also owned G&B.

Historical footnote: Gilbarco is still going, as Gilbarco-Veeder-Root, which in all likelihood made the petrol pump from which the reader regularly fills up.