A Mystery Uncovered

Do you believe in ghosts? many people do and occasionally information is discovered which sheds a light on hitherto unexplained phenomena. This is one such tale.

It is the story of an accident which happened in 1835, causing the death of Thomas Hammonds, an apprentice at The White House Glass Works in Wordsley; Thomas was just 16 years old. The tragedy was forgotten until, in April 2001, a glass memorial tablet, engraved with the story of Thomas’ death, was unearthed at the site of the Congregational Chapel in Stourbridge.

Following this discovery, a phenomena or ghost, of a young lad, who appeared to be out of his time, loitering by the gates of the factory and seen by many workers at Stuart Crystal, ….was never seen again!

A glass memorial tablet had been unearthed in April 2001 by the Necropolis Company of Kingston Surrey, while they were clearing the site of the Congregational Chapel in Stourbridge, prior to development for housing

The tablet was given to Jack Hayden, a founder member of the Stourbridge Historical Society, he also helped to establish The Stourbridge Glass Collection, the basis of the Stourbridge Glass Museum we know today.

Glass memorial Tablet 20 x 10 x 1cm

Jack attended the Historical Society AGM at the Bonded Warehouse in September when he presented the memorial tablet to the museum. The tablet measures 20cm by 10cm by 1cm thick, and is inscribed on both sides and on the two ends.

It records the death in 1835, of Thomas Hammonds, an apprentice at the White House Glass works in Wordsley and the full text is transcribed here.

“In memory of Thomas the son of John and Sarah Hammonds who departed this life the 14th day of July 1835, in the 16th year of his age. Melancholy to say he met his death by a potsherd being thrown, not at the deceased but another boy, by James Wood an apprentice to glass cutting at the White House Glass works Wordsley, in the parish of Kingswinford in Stafford, and occupied by Shepard and Webb to whom the deceased and Wood were apprentices, Thomas to the warehouse department. He was a steady and well behaved lad. Life how short, eternity how long, prepare thyself for death is sure.

He will be interred at the independent Chapel, Stourbridge, in the County of Worcester on Saturday July 18th. The only son of John and Sarah and brother to Caroline and Mary, and all lived in the greatest harmony with each other, a tender father, affectionate mother and loving sisters.

This piece of glass will be placed with his remains and if ever found it will certify on what account I know ‘O Lord thy judgments are right and now of very faithfulness has caused me to be troubled’”

John Shepherd a native of Millburn County, in Somerset was the maker and writer of the memorial tablet.

Jack Haden

On June the 23rd 2005, a report was printed in the County Express as a eulogy to Jack Haden, it read: Jack Haden Chief Reporter who spent over 50 years at the County Express Jack Haden who died in hospital a few days before his 89th birthday typified an old-fashioned journalist, who cycled everywhere and was never without his trademark beret.

He spent a lifetime working for the County Express in Stourbridge, starting as a junior in 1933, and rising to be chief reporter. During more than 50 years on the paper he turned down an offer of the Editors chair as he preferred not to be deskbound. Jack was an acknowledged expert on the history of Stourbridge and its glass making district, he wrote several books and founded Stourbridge Historical and Archaeological Society. On his demob from Army Service in 1946 he also helped to establish the Stourbridge glass collection.

His war service in the Royal Army Medical Corps was not without humour, he volunteered to have experimental flu injections, and to be a host for body lice. Whenever invited out he took mischievous pleasure in asking his hosts if they would like to see them! It was not as bad as it sounds because the eggs were in a small box, strapped to his arm for them to hatch.

He also took part in two army educational films, one showing the working of a mobile bath unit and the other anti-malaria precautions; but he also had to endure horrific sights as a stretcher bearer during the allies advance in Europe.

Jack who reported on the town soccer and cricket teams was described by Chief Librarian David Hickman, as a walking encyclopedia of Stourbridge.

Published by Kate Round

My name is Dr Kate Round; I am an outreach presenter and tour guide for Dudley Museum Service In my previous life, I was a research chemist so understand the chemistry of glass having worked on the synthesis of ‘zeolites’ (silica based materials) with my work published in International Journals. I have always lived in the Black Country and have a strong industrial family heritage.

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