Saturday, 5 December 2015

Chance Brothers - Lighting the World

During a visit to the UK in July I recorded an interview with broadcaster Graham Fisher, who lives in Birmingham and specialises in the history and heritage of the West Midlands. The interview was arranged by Mike Gibbs, publisher of History West Midlands Magazine, who has done so much to revive interest in what became known as the Black Country, the heart of Britain's industrial revolution.

In the interview I relate some of the factors leading to Chance Brothers becoming a major industrial enterprise from its founding in 1824 by my great great great uncle Robert Lucas Chance to the final closing of its doors in 1981. You can listen to the interview here.

Much of the interview focused on arguably the firm's best known product - lighthouse lenses and associated equipment - which can still be found lighting sealanes and harbours around the world. This is the subject of my book Lighthouses: The race to illuminate the world, published in 2008. For more info on the book you can visit my website here.

Listen also to this interview with Ray Drury, the last Chief Engineer at the Chance Brothers factory in Spon Lane, Smethwick. He reminisces about his experiences from being an apprentice draftsman in 1949 to his tearful locking of the gates of the flat glass plant for the last time in 1976.

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