Bill’s Lecture - Early Days






Bill's Lecture

Early Days
(Lagos, Oldbury,Langley)

Lye & Stambermill

Oldswinford & Stourbridge

Brierley Hill

Cradley Heath, Cradley & Dudley

Wollescote & Kinver


Additional Material


Other Works

Bill at Work



“It was some 54 years ago that I served a term of apprenticeship to a firm of stained glass makers at Smethwick, afterwards commencing a business of my own at Lye in 1925. I was very fortunate in the early years of my business life to have been associated with a well known Midland artist, who had studied stained glass at South Kensington and Paris, and was at one time a teacher at West Bromwich School of Art. From him I gained considerable knowledge of the art. Together we carried out several commissions in stained glass until his death in 1933, including the windows of the cathedral at Lagos, of which in 1926 the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone. Since those early times I have made many windows for churches around and will give one or two examples of these during my talk.

Among the windows in the churches around are several that have interested me over the years and I hope during the course of the evening to impart to you some of that interest. A talk on stained glass can be dealt with in 2 ways – either from the religious viewpoint or that of the person making the window, the latter being chosen as more suitable here, and I hope to introduce a little levity to the subject for which any of the clergy present may perhaps forgive me.

A Stained glass window can be compared to a painting, except that in a window each colour is a separate piece of coloured glass. This coloured glass is shaded and painted with a blackish pigment which when heated to red heat in a kiln fuses into the glass and becomes permanent. The bits of glass are then fastened and cemented together with strips of lead which build them up into a rigid solid panel which can be inserted into the window openings; it is as easy and simple as that.

In the year 1807 the first of the anti-slavery laws were passed although it was not until 1834 that slavery was finally abolished. In 1822 a Navy gunboat H.M.S. Myrmdion, on patrol on the high seas intercepted a slave ship bound for the Indies and liberated the slaves. Among those rescued was a small and violently trembling black boy - all alone and very frightened –who had been snatched from his West African mother and shipped with the slaves. After first being taken to Sierra Leone, he was brought back to this country and was placed in the care of the church who baptised him with a very English sounding name and taught him to read and write. He learned his lessons well, so well that when a young man he was ordained as a curate, later being sent with a team of missionaries to the country of his birth where to his astonishment and amid tearful rejoicing he found the mother, still living and from whom he had been parted twenty five years earlier. He did great work for the church and built a mission church at Lagos on the Gold Coast. His activities and his name soon became well known and it was a shock to him when, in 1864, he was suddenly recalled back to England. A greater shock was in store for him, for on arrival in this country he was almost immediately, and with great ceremony, created Bishop of the Niger Territories by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the first coloured person ever to be ordained a Bishop of the Church of England.

About twenty years after his death in 1896 Lagos rapidly developed into the capital city of Nigeria and a cathedral was planned near the site of the old mission church. My friend Tom Stokes was commissioned to create the great East window to the memory of the famous black bishop, Samuel Ajaiyi Crowther, together with several other windows, and these were made over a period of three to four years, at my workshops in Lye.



East Window Lagos Cathedral by Bill Pardoe & Tom Stokes


  In 1929, in conjunction with Tom Stokes, the window at Oldbury Grammar school was made as a memorial to the Old Boys of the school who died in the 1914 war. It consists of eight lights with the allegorical figures of Justice, Courage and Fortitude and with extracts from the story of the Peloponnesian War, specially selected by Mr Willis Bond, that great figure in Worcestershire education of those days.

Oldbury Grammar School (now Oldbury College of Sport)
Memorial window made by Bill Pardoe

Click here to see the text of a press report on the window.


  In the same year three small windows were placed by us in Langley Church and dedicated by the celebrated Dr Barnes whose appointment as Bishop of Birmingham caused such a stir in non-evolutionary circles. I well remember the ceremony with the very tall Dr Barnes who dedicated the windows by waving about his crook in the manner of a magician’s wand.

St Michael's Church, Causeway Green, Langley
Memorial window made by Bill Pardoe