Oldswinford & Stourbridge
Cradley Heath, Cradley
Wollescote & Kinver
At Brierley Hill Church are two windows on either side of the West doors and
these were painted by one of Samuel Evans artists. He was Thomas Smith – a
deaf mute and known to all as ‘Dummy Smith’. Not being able to speak or hear
he was able to exert deep concentration upon his work.
Those were the days when enamel painted glass panels used to abound in the
halls and vestibules of Victorian homes and in the painting of these, Dummy
Smith was the pre-eminent master, as this picture of Dovedale shows. It was
related to me that this picture was painted upon an odd piece of roofing
glass and shows remarkable technique and skill. You must remember that when
the enamel paint is laid on the glass it is very dark – almost black – until
fired in the kiln when it appears in all rich and glowing colours. See the
fine detail in the fisherman’s net.
The actual size of this figure would not be much larger than a postage
In the main entrance to the offices of Samuel Evans works were some very
fine painted panels by this same great master and prior to the demolition of
the works I paid a visit to renew my acquaintance with the centre picture
which I had not seen for over fifty years. They were still there in all
their glory and the same panel ought to have been removed to the Birmingham
Art Gallery as the finest example ever of this particular branch of art. I
can only hope that it has been carefully removed by someone who will care
for the treasure that it is.
The other windows at Brierley Hill are painted with the warm brown tones and
shadows much loved by Victorian glass painters and very much in vogue in
The first war window was the work of Thomas Stokes before I knew him and
from whom I subsequently acquired a considerable knowledge of the art.
The church (of St Luke) in Wellington Road was demolished this year, having
suffered like many others from the decline in church-going. It had a very
fine East window and a long West window. It was a very tall building and the
East window over the alter was high up near to the roof, nearly forty feet,
with the subjects of the Nativity, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.
One day the Rev. Ron Crisp of Dudley Wood church invited me to meet him
there to look at this window. He asked me ‘How about taking it out and
making it to fit the West window at my church, because they will give it to
me if I want it’. It seemed quite a formidable task to me owing to its great
height and size but I saw it as a challenge and eventually I removed it,
altered it and installed it in St John’s at Dudley Wood, entirely single
handed. This nearly ninety years old glass would probably have suffered the
same fate as thousands of others under the demolition men’s hammers if the
Rev. Ron Crisp had not first begged the window and then begged me to do the
work for him.
||In the old and now demolished Methodist Church of Bank Street, Brierley
Hill, every window was filled with stained glass. It must have caused some
heartache to families who had given them, often at great expense, to know
that they could not be used in the new church which was to be built. As the
parson said, ‘What is the point of putting up a new building and then
putting back all the stained glass in it. It would look just the same as the
old one’. One can understand people’s feelings and this must have happened
to many thousands of windows in the Midlands where redundant churches have
been demolished. Most of their windows have now gone forever.
Windows at Bank Street prior to demolition. (Chancel and end – Wesley - Pot
Boiler – Saviour in the Temple – The Risen Lord).