Welcome to Stourbridge

Save the Old Stourbridge Foundry! Letters of support

www.stourbridge.com - our view:

The fact that the first locomotive to run in the United States was built here in Stourbridge is a source of great pride to local people, it is one of those fundamental things that define the town. But the fact that the foundry where the Lion was built still stands is nothing short of incredible, and for years only a handful of people were aware of this extraordinary legacy. The saddest thing of all would be to say to the young people of Stourbridge in years to come that we allowed it to be demolished. Save the old foundry - save the town's identity!
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The Old Foundry under threat - your views:

They're still coming in - Thank you! This really does show the strength of feeling for the preservation of this amazing building.
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Hello, I've just been on the Stourbridge website and seen the part about the old foundry where the Stourbridge Lion was made. In my opionion, to save the building, it wouldn't matter what use the building was put to. Whether it be an information centre for the area, used for educational purposes. Changed into a social enviroment with a nice restaurant and coffee/cocktail lounges. A new house for a state of the art library. Converted into residential property.
To save the building would be amazing, it has really value and history.
All the best. Ian (Rec'd 29 Apr 09)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I support the proposed preservation of this historic building, providing it will be used as an area which will benefit the whole community of Stourbridge through workshops, business or community arts/museum type projects. I do not support the idea of a huge medical centre or sports centre as these do not reflect the past heritage of the buildings on this site. I believe that the American Stourbridge Lion enthusiasts would support projects which pay tribute to the work of Foster Rastrick & co and that something along these lines I have described would bring in funding/visitors from the States. Stourbridge is in economic decline and needs projects like this one to regenerate the town. I do not see how the proposed surgery or sports centre would do this. I feel very strongly about this and would be happy to take partin any campaign. Helen Plaice (Rec'd 19th Sep 08)
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My name is James, I'm 18 and I live in Wollaston.
I came across the website about the old foundry in stourbridge and just wanted to say that I support you and think that we should try and save the building. History is very important and I would hate to see the building demolished. I hope my e-mail makes a difference as I am assuming that you wouldn't usually receive them from teens like myself. I have no real interest in trains or anything to do with the building, I'm just a regular teenager that is proud of where he is from. I want to make sure that this piece of my history isn't demolished.
Thanks for reading.
James Oakley
(Rec'd 21 Jan 08)
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I am shocked to hear that this most important piece of local history is under threat.
We have lost far too many sites already (later regretted) – let’s make sure this isn’t another one. Ian James BSc (Hons) MPWI. (Rec'd 12 Sep 07)

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I live in the same street as the old foundry and ive seen over the last 8 years how its gone down,it would be nice to see it back to how it used to be,at the moment its a rat infested eyesore such a shame our historical building are treated this way
N icola skelding (Rec'd 14 Sep 07)

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I believe that Stourbridge has not been given the opportunities to expand on its historical heritage. We lost the chance for an open air canal/railway centre when the Mill Race Lane industrial estate was built, I think that we must use this chance to put the town on the map with this complex of historical buildings, ideally located close to the Stour, the Stourbridge arm of the canal and our beautifully restored Bonded Warehouse, these can all be amalgamated into one site of local interest. Access to the site is already in position by way of Lowndes Road and the towpath, already used on occasions for canal rallies, Classic car shows etc. For goodness sake let us use the area for use by the community now and forever and not lose it to more flash in the pan money making schemes Would it even be possible to return Agenoria back home ? after all it spent its working life in the vicinity . We desparately need to sustain Stourbridge's history, we appear to be losing so much of it as buildings like the Old Library, the Bank Buildings etc are being sold off for goodness knows what, and now with the glass industry all but dead, we have lost the very character of the once proud town.
Yours optimisticaly, Colin J Payne (Rec'd 27th July 07)

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Hi you have my support 100% on preserving the foundry it seems to me to be fundamental for the history of the area surrounding Stourbridge. Tony Caulfield. (Rec'd 24th July 07)
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I whole heartedly support the restoration of the Foster, Rastrick Foundry. While it is important to have new and exciting developments, it is essential to maintain our link to the past, especially through buildings of such historic importance. I believe a good use for the main building
would be a hall for displays of local photography, art and crafts or even amateur dramatics and small scale concerts in a similar manner to the suite of rooms at Himley Hall or the upstairs gallery of the Dudley Museum. Stourbridge is a large town with a proud history and should have
an appropriate building to represent this for community use without having to travel to other venues. The Managers house would be ideal as a museum, so that the historic importance of the building is not lost to future generations. Surrounded by gardens and adequate parking the area could become a lovely arena for the people of Stourbridge to relax in and while away a few hours. If volunteers were needed to help I am sure I would not be the only person in Stourbridge who would be willing to put in some work to help see the foundry restored.

Dr Scott Porter, Ph.D. Msci, Stourbridge.
(Rec'd 19th Feb 07)
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I teach American history on invention and technology at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. I just wanted to say I hope you will save this building! The Stourbridge Lion was a great achievement in American technological history. The loss of such an important site would be very unfortunate. Has anyone contacted The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan? Perhaps they could help.
Sincerely, Ed Rice (Rec'd 11th Feb 07)
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I work directly opposite the foundry. My office window overlooks the derelict property and I see daily how scavengers and vandals are abusing the now very sad site, and no-one seems interested if it is stolen brick by brick.
A decision should be made by the local authority or the landowners as to what will be done with this building and the surrounding land before it disappears bits by bit and is beyond restoration. We have a photograph in the office by Vic Careless and would like to see more examples of his work if possible.
Regards, Valerie Phipps, Personal Assistant
Laser Claddings Limited, Lowndes Road, Stourbridge
(Rec'd 6th Feb 07)
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As a former professor of building conservation I am shocked that a building of such historical importance should be under threat. I have a slight tenuous connection with Foster's works (and possibly with the "Lion"), in that I inherited the diary of Francis Perks, tailor of Stourbridge for the years 1823-1832 in which Foster's works are mentioned quite often. Possibly in connection with the completion of the "Lion" Mr Foster ordered of Francis Perks a new top coat. The diary entry for 7th April 1829 reads "Men worked till 2 in morn to make Mr Foster a new top coat ordered at 5 at night." One would not get service like that today.
The diary entry for 31st October 1825 records "Mr W Foster began his new Forg(e)" and there is a small, crude illustration of it. Another entry describes how the diarist visited the James Foster's works while the beams were being cast for the new library in London. These were for the British Library. Some years ago the RIBA exhibition on structural ironwork started that the beams for the British Library had been cast by Rastrick. I wrote to tell them this was not so, and it was Foster. Shortly afterwards the British Library caught fire. A photograph of the wreckage clearly showed each beamn to be embossed with the word "Foster." The RIBA wrote back to say "you didn't have to burn the place down to prove your point"!
Hopefully an abridged form of Francis Perks' diaries will be ready for publication by Phillimore early in 2008. There is a lot about Foster's works in it. It would be a pity if the building wasn't there. Richard Hugh Perks
(Rec'd 4th Jan 07)
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As an inhabitant of Stourbridge and regular walker along the canal adjacent to the former iron works of John Bradley and the Foster Rastrick Foundry, it saddens me to see listed buildings in such a sorry state and still under threat of demolition, when they surely could be incorporated as the historic centre-piece of any new development. Saddest of all to me, since it has long been visible from the canal, is the current state old manager's house 'Riverside'. Until a couple of years ago, it was to all intents and purposes in a good state, fully roofed. I think there was an agreement with the local probation service whereby young offenders were employed regularly to tend the gardens, so benefitting themselves and the local area. However, since the closure of the last company on site, Riverside has been targeted by arsonists and vandals, and is now a roofless, sorry looking, graffiti adorned shell. The once well kept grounds are now an overgrown jungle. What a depressing advert for Stourbridge town and Dudley Council. If the council cannot seize the opportunity to restore these historic buildings as part of a wider canalside heritage scheme, then perhaps it is time to dismantle them brick by brick and ship them to the USA, where they will be much better appreciated and treated with the respect they deserve.
Carl Higgs (Dec 06)
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I used to work at this site when it was Sidney Smith Castings, i visited the site today to find most of the later buildings had been demolished. a sad site. i have a massive interest in this site and wish to see the whole site preserved and restored

please please contact me if i can be of any assistance in the restoration of the works, my work will be completely voluntary, and at my own expense. maybe i can help raise funds or volunteers to do this. Andy Dean
(Oct 06)
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This is a part of our local history and should be cared for properly. is there an opportunity to move it to a palce such as the black country museum? Paul Griffiths (Oct 06)
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Please allow me to add my voice in support of all you efforts to save the historic Foster, Rastrick & Co factory where the Stourbridge Lion was built. Too much of our industrial heritage is being lost to so called developers who only want to line their own pockets.How about a developer developing the old factory into a true heritage centre for Stourbridge and Dudley metropolitan borough. there should be ample prestige in such a venture to gladden the most cynical of developers.Please save our historic factory.
Best of Luck, Peter Smith, Kingswinford.
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I wholeheartedly support you wish to have this important industrial building restored.
Best Wishes George Richardson

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I now live in Cornwall and am an active member of the Trevithick Society, and I am asking our society to give your campaign it's support, particularly with the connection of Rastrick to Trevithick through Reynolds and Hazeldine. I was born in Wordsley hospital and lived for most of forty years within a few hundred yards of the line on which the Agenoria ran, and worked for some time next to the foundry (at Ashfords ice cream). I have long had an interest in industrial archaeology and feel that this foundry is of great importance particularly for the following reasons: birthplace of the Lion and the roof constuction of the "new foundry" building. I would like to keep up to date with any developments and would like to offer to help with the campaign as I do not wish the same fate to befall this building as the Nine Locks engine house in Brierley Hill which I watched being demolished ( but did manage to save one corner of the beam support casting!). All the best with the campaign. Rod Thompson
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I am horrified to learn from your website that this historic building is in danger of demolition. So little remains of the engineering works of this period of our country's history, when we led the world in innovation. If the local council allow this hallowed site to be lost they deserve to be haunted by the ghost of Fred Dibnah for eternity.
Peter Turvey
www.stanleysteamcar.co.uk
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I'm sorry to hear that a wonderful historic relic is, in this day and age, sadly so neglected that demolition was ever considered as an option.

I have just recently visited the site, with my 7 year old son, as I wanted to impress upon him that something of significance could be lost for ever, and he at least should have had the opportunity to have seen it. I hope that your efforts assist in retaining the building, and that it stands for at least another 176 years, correctly placed as a building of historic significance in Great Britain.
John Farmer, Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA.

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Dear Sirs - I would like to add my support to the move to save the New Foundry of Foster & Rastrick. This is the most important piece of architecture in the Dudley MBC. (Grade 2 Star) and yet there is no clear leadership on how it can be used for the benefit of the community. It is in an ideal situation for development, forming the center of a community space along the canal and River Stour. As a large flexible arena it could be used for sport or art events, with the adjoining 'Managers House' Riverside being the administrative/Museum centre In addition there is the garden to 'Riverside' which is flanked by the river on one side and the canal on the other, and contains the historically interesting dry dock, and from which there is a lovely aspect to the 1821 Foundry Building. I can think of no better place to spend a sunny summers afternoon. I have photos of the site before many of the peripheral buildings were demolished. I have also been researching the history of J U Rastrick and Foster, Rastricks for many years. It produced items of all scales, and apart from the locomotives provided iron beams for the British Museum, Somerset House, The General Post Office (demolished 1927) and many country houses of that era. Some of my information is available on two web sites. which can be accessed from www.84f.com Dudley MBC should be taking a clear initiative in this matter.

Tom Cockeram
Lecturer Stourbridge College
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Hi, Being the daughter of Sidney Smith who started the foundry many years ago from the winnings of a football coupon, I read with interest the lack of support you receive from the local council. My father and brothers tried to expand the foundry business but were continually "knocked back" by the council because of the "historical interest in the buildings". Yet when the foundries have gone and many generations have lost their living you can not find any funding to save the buildings. I find it very sad, as I have many memories of the site from early childhood and my father continually talked about the history of the foundry, but as a child it meant nothing. Is the old house still standing beside the canal with the stables? I hope you gain the support you require to retain the history. Anita Edwards
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Of course I agree and warmly support the preservation of the Old Foundry and the idea to reconvert it into a multifunctional heritage centre for Stourbridge. It would be a true asset and selling point for the historic town.
Thank you for your cooperation,
Regards, Matthias Benjamins (Netherlands)
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Dear Sirs - I like many other residents of Stourbridge are extremely concerned by the state of this most important building which after restoration could bring immense benefits to the town with many visitors worldwide coming to the town and its environs as they do at the Ironbridge gorge-which provides most of the employment in the area. I like many others would be prepared to give a donation to help save this building. The setting in the valley and the adjacent canals could be made into an extremely attractive leisure area and could be incorporated into a ticket scheme to see the Dudley Zoo, the Black Country Musuem and other attractions.
Please don't let the building deteriate any further and lose something which could really add pride back to the town and the area.
Yours concerned, Mr J.R.Wadhams
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Got home from work this evening and my wife mentioned the article on Midlands Today re the potential loss Stourbridge Lion foundry. Had it not been that only a couple of days ago I was scanning in some old photos, she would never have heard of the Lion...

I am Stourbridge born, although now live away from the town due to work commitments. We recently moved back to Stourbridge, only to move away again a few years later. A decade or more ago, I spent many weeks in the US, again through work. One weekend while staying in New York, I decided to take a trip to Honesdale (a few hunderd miles as I recall) to see "The Lion" - hence the photos.

The contrast between how we look after our heritage, and how the Americans do things, could not be greater. What little heritage they do have, they guard preciously. In the UK, like much of Europe, we are complacent about what we have around us. To go to the time and effort to build a full size replica engine, and to put the original in as place as grand as the Smithsonian, shows how important this engine is to US heritage.

Stourbridge today is not the town it once was - it's identity having been absorbed into WM connurbation, it's town centre constricted by the ring road and finally strangled by Merry Hill. It's heritage is therefore of even more importance to the generations to come, so they can appreciate the importance of the place to the industrial heritage of the most powerful nation on earth.

I am pleased to offer my support to help preserve the foundry building, and hope that it can provide an opportunity for future generations of Stourbridge children to become aware of the Lion and it's significance.

Dave Layland BSc ARCS Edingale Staffs
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I think the foundry should be saved, and turned into some kind of museum, its our history, our heritage !
regards, DJ Biggles
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The Listed buildings around the Stourbridge Arm Canal are all very important and closely associated with each other, none more so than the Old Foundry and all, as their status decrees, must be kept. The Bonded Warehouse was to be demolished in 1981 and was saved to become one of the most visited attractions in Stourbridge.
The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust would support any progress towards the foundry buildings being brought back into use.
Alan T Smith MBE, Chairman.

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Sir, On behalf the Delaware & Hudson Canal Heritage Corridor Alliance I wish to express our support for your efforts in trying to preserve the Stourbridge Foundry which produced the Stourbridge Lion. In these days of haste and waste it is most laudable, on your part, to protect, preserve and defend such a historical site. One suggestion, if all else fails, sometimes historic buildings can be saved by keeping intact the façade and having the interior segmented for multiple uses, one of which is for historic interpretation of the building and its former use.

An ocean may separate us in body but we are of the same mind and wish you well in this pursuit.
Sincerely yours,
Andrew Helgesen, Chairman, D&H Canal HCA (USA)
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Dr. Collins,
I heartily endorse saving the Old Foundry for the benefit of future generations.
Yours Sincerely, Steve Mitchell
Course Leader, Project Management, Yorkshire First
Leeds Met. University

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It would be a tragedy to lose the Foster, Rastrick Foundry where the Stourbridge Lion was born.The building might be in a poor state at present, but by itself that’s no reason to demolish. We don’t need to look very far to see examples of what can be done to give a new lease of life to redundant historic buildings – the Bonded Warehouse and Canal Company Offices both in Canal Street, and now the Harris & Pearson building in Brettell Lane, are all prime examples of abandoned buildings now returned to beneficial use. Here’s hoping the owners can give consideration to finding a viable future use for the foundry building – perhaps taking inspiration from a visit to the three neighbouring buildings that have been saved through sympathetic conservation projects.Regards - David Trevis-Smith
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I've just been looking at your excellent web pages and am horrified that such an important building as the foundry which produced the Stourbridge Lion should be on the brink of destruction. This must not be allowed to happen! Please add this message to the others you are collecting in support of your campaign to save it. Stourbridge has lost so much of its heritage over the last 30 years (and its "amalgamation" with Dudley) and it would be unforgivable to lose this place now that its importance has been recognised at last.
Very best wishes, and good luck for the future,
Alison Wright
(Born and brought up in Stourbridge, living in Devon since 1982)
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Hi Stourbridge.com,
I'd just like to add my support to the campaign to save the Lion's home! Thankyou, Sally Fallon
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The building where The Stourbridge Lion, the first steam locomotive to run in the USA was built is of great interest and should be saved and re-utilised. The building is of significance in itself ,due to its construction and its extreme longevity as a foundry building. I believe it is a very important monument to our area's world significance in the history of The Industrial Revolution. SIMON MILLS
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We at the Society are distressed to hear of the stated demolition of the Stourbridge Foundry. As you may be aware, this year marks the 175th anniversary of the running of the Lion for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’s gravity railroad. In August, the Wayne County Historical Society, Carbondale Historical Society, and Waymart Area Historical Society held a symposium to commemorate that momentous occasion.

We at the D&H Canal Historical Society feel that the Stourbridge Foundry is an important link in the historical events that surround the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Gravity Railroad. Indeed, the Lion entered the port of Kingston, New York and floated down the Canal to Honesdale, Pennsylvania-directly past the front door of our Museum. The purchase and subsequent use of the Stourbridge Lion mark a significant turning point in the advance of steam locomotion in the United States and are responsible for the D&H being considered an innovator in technology, engineering, and transportation in 19th Century America. The Lion contributed enormously to the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the D&H Transportation Heritage Council and on behalf of the D&H Canal Historical Society and the D&H Canal Heritage Corridor Alliance, I offer you our full support in protecting this important landmark and in creating an alliance between our two countries.

Regards,
Jeanne M. Bollendorf, Executive Director
Delaware & Hudson Canal Historical Society (USA)
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It has come to my attention that the foundry where the Stourbridge Lion was built is in severe disrepair and that this historic building is under threat of demolition. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Neversink Valley Area Museum I would strongly encourage the local Council to take all possible actions to save this unique piece of history.
The Neversink Valley Area Museum is located in Orange County, New York in an historic building in the County’s D&H Canal Park. Over 175 years ago the carpenter who lived in our present headquarters would have watched as a canal boat transporting the Stourbridge Lion to Pennsylvania passed over the Neversink River Aqueduct. We are very much aware of the importance of this historic event and know that losing the Stourbridge foundry would diminish our shared cultural legacy.

I am pleased that you are working diligently to preserve this important resource and want to offer any assistance we can provide from this side of the Atlantic in achieving our mutual goal.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen Skye, President, Board of Trustees

Neversink Valley Area Museum (USA)

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