some pictures from my collection.and a little Chance history.

The House Magazine, "Chance Comments", was published bi-monthly from March 1948.

This cover picture from the first issue demonstrates the importance of the Lighthouse Works; bearing in mind that Chance Brothers was principally a Glassworks.

Jack Batten (Snr) is pictured alongside the recently completed lens unit for Pulau Angsa light, Malaya.



An aerial view looking approx SE ( towards Birmingham )


This is almost an opposite to the aerial view in the article published in the Black Country Bugle. The buildings which contained the Lighthouse Works are adjacent to the Recreation Ground and generally at right angles to the boundary hedge. The two principal Lighthouse Workshops can be identified by the four in-line skylights set into their `Belfast roofs`, features which can be recognised in some of the following internal views.

James Brindley`s 1769 canal meandering near the left edge of the view was improved upon by John Smeaton (of Eddystone fame) in 1790 and then again by Thomas Telford in 1829 with his more direct "cut". Spon Lane crosses Telford`s canal at the top bridge. By improving the transport of coal from the Black Country pits these canals contributed greatly to the growing industries of Smethwick and Birmingham.

From this view of the middle gangway in the machine shop you can get an impression of the full length of the building; this was above 100 yards and was shared with the fitting shop in the distance.

Left is a view from ground level of the fitting shop at the end of the tallest building showing the cathedral like proportions. The photograph below right, of the same fitting shop area, was taken in 1920 from the top of a tower under construction (for Sheikh Shuatt)


In the background of both pictures you can see the "stage" on which completed optics were mounted for testing.

To complete the scene this view (from the opposite direction) shows optics on the "stage" in position for testing. Note the large windows.

During the assembly operations before reaching "the stage" each lens and prism had been set in place by skilled fitters using lamps, mirrors, sighting devices, etc. - and much specialised experience. Few optics were alike - each operation required individual attention.

On the "stage" the optic was tested as a complete unit. Through the large windows the team of testers had two way viewing to and from another stage mounted on the side of a building across the "yard" (car park) . On the wall behind this second stage was mounted a large blackboard and a "test lamp" the beam from which was directed at the optic on test. In service the optic collects light from the "light source" and condenses it into a beam which it then projects, not horizontal, but slightly below it, so that it falls onto the horizon. ( A horizontal beam would shoot off tangentially into space.). The horizon might be 10, 15, 20 miles away dependent on the height of the lighthouse and ,during installation, the efficacy of the light would be checked at these distances. In the factory testing had to be compressed into the space available i.e. the approx 100 yards between the two stages. Light rays from the test lamp passing `backwards` through the prisms should fall onto a datum pointer mounted at the focal centre of the optic. The lens elements would have only been wedged or softly puttied in so that errant ones could be tweaked. Only when every element had been checked as acceptable would they be finally white or red leaded into position. Final approval would be certified by a Trinity House engineer.

I aim to be keep adding to this page. Thanks to help and contributions from old Chance colleagues I have a sizeable collection of pictures to select from. For the pictures used above I have to record my gratitude to Ken Sutton-Jones, Ron Seddon (son of Len), Peter Barlow, and Norman Smith.

Please contact me if you have any questions, comments, or contributions you can make.