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  Glasshouse College

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Glasshouse a short tour

The Glasshouse College first opened its doors September 2000 on the site of the old Royal Doulton crystal factory in Amblecote, the glass making district of Stourbridge. The town of Stourbridge was chosen because of its connection with the craft of glassmaking and the canal system that supported the industry. As you enter the car park from the Wollaston Road, the Stourbridge Canal stretches along the eastern border of the site.

As one of the first projects at Glasshouse College, students worked with a local boatyard to build a narrow boat for use as a floating classroom for numeracy and literacy. Students also learn navigation and maintenance skills and study the wildlife, history and geology of the canals. The narrowboat also offers opportunities for trips out during the holidays. The wharf provides access to the site from the canal and opportunities for boat maintenance.

On entering the complex, the Ruskin Glass Centre is on the right and houses a range of glass-related businesses and other small companies and craft workshops. They can be accessed through the entrance (see map) and welcome visitors to their showrooms and workshops.

Beyond the Ruskin Glass Centre, you enter the central courtyard of the College where the reception and administration offices are located. It also accesses the weavery, pottery, blacksmithing and jewellery workshops and the bicycle maintenance workshop. More craft workshops are located in the Ruskin Glass Centre including bronze casting, stone carving, felting, photography and the art room. The car maintenance workshop is located in the Garage.

The Glasshouse Coffee Shop provides refreshments and vegetarian meals for all staff and students located on site as well as being open to the general public. Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm. Students engage in all aspects of the Coffee Shop as well as selling dry goods in the Organic Shop.

The Literacy Room provides the main centre for Basic Skills where students engage in Numeracy and Literacy as well as expressing their creativity through the written word. Poetry, stories, crosswords, quizzes and accounts of experiences contribute to the monthly Glasshouse College Newsletter and the Run of the Mill Magazine published termly.
Basic skills are integrated into all areas of the College curriculum.

The main therapeutic rooms are based above the Coffee Shop. The therapeutic programme includes: Art Therapy, Eurythmy (balance and co-ordination), Kahuna Massage, Spatial Dynamics, Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.

Behind the coffee shop, the Mask studio and Performing Arts are located. Students learn to make their own masks as well as masks commercially for professional theatre companies. In 2002, the Mask studio invited members of the public to have masks made which resulted in the highly successful ‘Faces of Stourbridge’ exhibition. Also in 2002, the Glasshouse Studio Theatre opened offering music, concerts, lectures, theatre productions and workshop facilities to both visiting artists and student productions. Drama offers students a medium for self-expression, team work and overcoming inhibitions. The ‘Hero’s Journey’ uses a range of media to explore the journey from childhood, adolescence to adulthood.

Plans to redevelop the Glasshouse site are now under way and a partnership fundraising project (RECAST) was launched in January 2003 (see article in Run of the Mill). It aims to upgrade the educational facilities at Glasshouse College, create a Centre for Arts and Creativity and support the regeneration of the glass industry at the Ruskin Glass Centre.

The Acorns is situated on the outskirts of Stourbridge where students have converted a five acre paddock into a market garden in which they study and work with the rhythms and cycles of nature; planting, nurturing and harvesting vegetables and soft fruit. Crops are grown using bio-dynamic methods and harvested for use in the coffee shop, woodland kitchen and student households. Two placid horses give students the opportunity to study horse care and riding in ‘equestrian skills.

The Greenwich Woodland is situated on an estate eight miles from Stourbridge. The relationship with the land and craft is explored in ‘outdoor classrooms’ using the wisdom and skills of ancient and traditional technologies through woodland crafts, including forestry, charcoal making, green woodwork and iron age forge. Students prepare and serve lunches in the ‘woodland kitchen’.

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