Webb Corbett was first established in 1897 by Thomas and Herbert Webb and George Harry Corbett. Initially they were based at the White House Glass Cone in Wordsley and traded under the name ‘Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited’. Expansion of the company in the early 20th century saw Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited take over a glass house in Tutbury, Staffordshire.
A catalogue produced in 1911, shows that Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited produced a wide range of items including table services, flower vases, salad and rose bowls and claret and spirit decanters during its early years.
A fire which destroyed much of the factory, forced the company to move to new premises in Amblecote, known as the Coalburnhill Glass Works in 1913. In the period in the run up to World War 1, the company produced fine examples of rock crystal and intaglio engraved glass. Enamelled glass was also developed during this period, which had a very distinctive style, specific to Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited. The enamelled pieces featured fruit, flowers and foliage which had a stained glass appearance. Another distinctive style developed during the 1920’s was the ‘agate flambé’ which imitated semi precious stones and was the first of its kind in the Stourbridge area.
The 1929 and 1934 catalogues show that Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited made cut crystal glassware that had a traditional style in 1929 but by 1934 had developed a more modern feel, with its Art Deco style. Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited began using sandblasting as a new decorative technique during the 1940’s. It became so successful that by the 1950’s it was used for commercial use.
One of the company’s key designers was William Kny (1870-1942) who was the son of Thomas Webb’s famous designer Frederick Engelbert Kny. William designed many of Webb Corbett’s rock crystal glass pieces. In 1946, Irene Stevens joined Thomas Webb and Corbett, bringing with her new, more modern ideas and designs. Irene didn’t like traditional cuts but opted for bold, simple cuts which proved to be very popular. She left the company as a designer in 1957 to pursue a career at a local college, but remained as a glass consultant for the company until 1963.
Thomas Webb and Corbett Limited continued to trade under the same name until 1953 after which the name was changed to ‘Webb Corbett Limited’. Shortly after this, the Webb Corbett factory was acquired by the Royal Doulton Company in 1969. The company continued to produce fantastic crystal glassware, which became known as ‘Royal Doulton by Webb Corbett’ in 1980. Royal Doulton finally changed the company name to ‘Royal Doulton Crystal’ in 1986 and wanted to change the style of glass produced by the company, to make it look similar to the fine china they also produced.
One of the most successful designers to work for the company was David Queensbury who began in 1963. David developed several new designs known as ‘Queensbury Designs’ which featured four patterns – Random, Harlequin, Diadem and Mitre. In 1964 David won the Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for ‘Elegant Design’ for one of his pieces.
Other methods used by the company include cased and cameo glass which was produced in the 1970’s. Items made using these methods included vases, bowls, baskets and chalices in ruby, blue, turquoise and cobalt. They also produced paperweights and stemmed hock glasses around the same time.
Around 1997, the company stopped producing glass but the name Royal Doulton Crystal is still used today. The old site in Stourbridge is now used as the Ruskin Centre.