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A History of Broadfield House

Black and white image c.1960 of the entrance at Broadfield House

 

The museum represented the latest chapter for a building that has hosted many contrasting occupants. The original structure was a modest two-storey farmhouse built in the mid or late 18th century and faced Barnett Lane.

The threshing barn (now the Hot Glass Studio) dates from the same period and serves as a reminder that two hundred years ago this area was open country and farmland.

In the early 1800s the house was transformed into a much grander residence when a fine three-storey Regency block with sash windows and portico was built onto the back of the original building. This now formed the main entrance, reversing the orientation of the original house. 

The landscape surrounding Broadfield House in the 1880's
Broadfield House inthe 1880's

 

The Dudley Family

Between c.1830 and c.1940, Broadfield House was the home of the Dudley family, who held farming and industrial interests. In the 1841 census Robert Dudley was described as a Nail Merchant. The household consisted of Robert, his wife Elizabeth, and his grown up sons, Robert and George. They also had 3 male and 3 female servants living in.

In the 1891 census the household comprised Louisa Dudley, her sons George and Robert, the former described as a Nail Manufacturer, a cook, housemaid and under-maid. Florence Kate Dudley, George’s wife, was the last member of the Dudley family to live at Broadfield House. The Dudleys were keen gardeners and the grounds were beautifully kept. 

An example of the alterations made to Broadfield House when it served as a local governemnt institution
A post-war partition built onto the regency staircase

 

Old People’s Home

Following local government reorganisation in 1966 ownership was transferred to the enlarged County Borough of Dudley.

In 1969 Broadfield House became an Old People’s Home – not a very suitable use considering there are 44 stairs and no lift! Following the creation of Dudley MBC in 1974, the Council closed the home and began looking at alternative uses for the building.

Inevitably the Mothercraft Hostel and Old People's Home left their mark on the building, as can be seen in the pictures above. Other features remain that are suggestive of an institutional use.

Laundry hanging at the rear of Broadfield House during its period as a Mothercraft home
Broadfield House as a Mothercraft Hostel

 

Private House to Mothercraft Hostel

In 1943 the house with 16 acres was purchased by Kenneth George MacMaster, an engineering contactor and property developer.

The following year MacMaster sold the house to Dennis Smith from Tividale. Smith was the last private owner of Broadfield House and lived here with his family until 1949.

In 1949 the house was acquired by Staffordshire County Council for use as a Mothercraft Hostel. It is difficult to comprehend such a place, but at the time, a home for unmarried mothers and their babies was felt to be socially appropriate and so they were not unusual.  

Converting this room into the Cameo Gallery
Constructing the museum

 

Accidental Museum

In 1976 the idea emerged of using the building as a new home for the Council’s Brierley Hill and Stourbridge Glass Collections. This met with considerable opposition as the people of Brierley Hill and Stourbridge were very protective of their collections and did not want them moved from their respective towns. At the final Council meeting, the decision to go ahead won by only one vote! Conversion work began in 1979 and Broadfield House Glass Museum was officially opened by Princess Michael of Kent on 2nd April 1980. 

At 4pm on Wednesday the 30th September 2015, Broadfield House Glass Museum closed its doors for the final time.