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Deep in the bowels of the Hardman and Co stained glass factory in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Martin Mullaney discovers some amasing national and local history – not least the origins of the stained glass used by Houses of Parliament architect AW Pugin.

I was taken on a whistle stop trip of the Jewellery Quarter on Tuesday to potential tourist attractions. They were all great, but I was totally taken a back by a visit to Hardman and company, Frederick Street.

There's are moments when one asks oneself the question "why aren't we making more of this as a tourist attraction"? This was one of them.

Let me explain why Hardman and Co is a potential huge tourist attraction, with the following facts:

  • Hardman and Co designed and manufactured ALL the stained glass, woodwork and metal fittings for all of AW Pugin's buildings - this included the Palace of Westminster ( ie the House of Commons and the House of Lords).
  • AW Pugin was one of the greatest and most influential Victorian architects in Britain. His stained glass, metal work and wood carving is some of the finest you will see in any British building.
  • Hardman and Co. still exist and focus on repairing and manufacturing stain glass.
  • The Hardman and Co factory contains bits and pieces from various Pugin buildings, including their designs for the Palace of Westminster and bits and pieces of stain glass, metalwork and woodwork that was used either as moulds OR were simply not used.

When I was being shown around, the Hardman employee would point to something on the wall and say "you see that, that was the [insert name of item] that was used in the Palace of Westminster. We made too many, so they didn't need this one and here it is"

Hardman and Co is the one of the world's leading manufacturers of stained glass and ecclesiastical fittings. They are one of the few companies world wide that still paints and manufactures painted stain glass.

John Hardman senior, who founded the company, was considered by AW Pugin to be 'the brother Pugin never had'. They had a life long friendship. When AW Pugin died, Pugin's wife moved into a property across the road from the Hardman and Co factory. John Hardman senior's nephew married Pugin daughter.

For more info on Hardman and Co see here.

See also The University of St Andrews website here

2012 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of AW Pugin.



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