Made In Smethwick: The Chance Lighthouse Map

Made In Smethwick: The Chance Lighthouse Map

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Over 2,500 lighthouses around the world were ‘Made in Smethwick’. Join our mission to map the locations that light up our world.

About this event

In the 1800s, Chance Brothers & Co glassworks in Smethwick began making the hi-tech lenses that lighthouses use to warn ships of dangerous locations. By 1951, the majority of lighthouses around the world were fitted with a Chance lens.

From the Cape Race lighthouse that received the SOS call from the Titanic, to the Longstone lighthouse from where Grace Darling and her father William launched one of Britain’s most courageous rescues, they certainly ended up in some interesting places.

Love lighthouses? Curious about history? Enjoy making new discoveries and exploring the world from your device?

Join our mission to create an explorable online map, enriched with photos, history, and technical details, and discover global history through a new lens.

What we’ll do

Starting with an essential online tutorial, you'll learn how to use your sleuthing skills to find the current and historical locations of lighthouses around the world, pin them to our map, and enrich them with the details that bring each one to life.

Who commissioned them? Why in those particular locations? Which model of lens did they have? What was their unique 'light character' or signal? Are they still in use? Can you visit them today? And what condition are they in?

Throughout the mission, you can add as many Chance lighthouses to the map as you like.

You'll also be able to enjoy an optional 'Lighthouse Lesson' each week, where you can learn more about some of the most iconic lighthouses on the map, and share your discoveries with others.

In the process, we'll explore their history, their technology, and the far-reaching consequences they had on the world; as well as saving countless lives, they were a 'tool of empire' which facilitated the growth of trade, the expansion of European colonial interests, and transformed the trade maps of countries and empires.

In the process, you’ll learn about:

• The history of lighthouses - from the earlieast beacons to the latest technology, and their place in the world

• How to to find (and map) current and historical lighthouse locations

• How to uncover important historic and technical details using online resources

• How to enrich the lighthouse map with photos and other information, to create an explorable, open-access resource, with a world-wide community

• How to assess condition and identify lighthouse locations that are at risk from climate change

How it works

This project will progress in two stages. You can take part in Stage 1, Stage 2, or both.

Each stage begins with an essential online tutorial. Once you've completed it, you can add as many lighthouses to the map as you like each week.

You'll also have access to a chat/help forum, support from experienced tutors, plus the option to enjoy a short, weekly 'Lighthouse Lesson', where you can learn more about our favourite 'lighthouse of the week'.

Using the power of our combined sleuthing skills, we'll create an explorable map that spotlights the incredible history of lighthouses, and their place in the world.

Stage 1 / Adding lighthouses to the map / Thu 16 June – Sun 10 July 2022

This stage will be entirely online so anyone, anywhere can contribute!

You'll start with an essential online tutorial, introducing you to the fascinating world of lighthouses; their history, their technology, and their place in the world – from trade to control of empire.

You'll also learn to locate Chance lighthouses, and hunt down their key information. After your first tutorial, you’ll be able to start adding lighthouses to the map.

You'll have access to a help forum, and an optional 45 minute ‘Lighthouse Lesson’ – a weekly tutorial where you can learn more about lighthouses, catch up on the latest progress, discover our ‘lighthouse of the week’, share your highlights, and ask questions.

You'll also be invited to our final event on Thu 18 August.

Stage 2 / Enriching the lighthouse map / Thu 21 July – Sun 07 August 2022

Now that every Chance lighthouse has been pinned to the map, it's time to enrich it with photos, soundscapes, and more.

You'll learn how to enrich the map with photographs, soundscapes, and an assessment of their current condition – including risks from climate change.

We’ll start with some basic training and, once again, you’ll have access to a help forum, and an optional 45 minute ‘Lighthouse Lesson’.

Again, anyone, anywhere, can contribute - and if you live close to a lighthouse (or can travel to one) you'll also have the option to head off on an independent field visit to capture new information!

You'll also be invited to our final event on Thu 18 August.





Anyone! If you’re curious, want to learn, contribute to something fun, and have access to internet, you can take part. It’s designed for adults, but young adults and parent-child pairs are welcome too.



You'll need to watch the essential training tutorial before starting. After that, it’s up to you.

We estimate that each lighthouse will take 20-60 minutes – depending on how tricky it is to track down.

You can pin just one lighthouse to our map each week, or as many as you like.



All training and tutorials are provided via Zoom and can be attended live, or via a recording afterwards.

Throughout the project, you’ll also have access to our mapping tool, a help/chat forum, lots of interesting resources, and a community of like-minded people to share your findings with.

Remember, all tutorials and 'Lightouse Lessons' will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.

Stage 1 – Creating the Map

Thu 16 June / 18:00-19:30 (BST) / Essential Training Tutorial – Welcome and Training for Stage 1

Thu 23 June / 18:00-18:45 (BST) / Lighthouse Lesson 1 - Weekly tutorial and support for Stage 1

Tue 28 June / 18:00-18:30 (BST) / Optional Leader Training - Additional training for anyone who wants to advance their skills and become a ‘Lighthouse Leader’ and support others

Thu 30 June / 18:00-18:45 (BST) / Lighthouse Lesson 2 - Weekly tutorial and support for Stage 1

Thu 07 July / 18:00-18:45 (BST) / Lighthouse Lesson 3 - Weekly tutorial and support for Stage 1

Sun 10 July / 23:59 (BST) / End of Stage 1 - Final additions to the map

Stage 2 – Enriching the Map

Thu 21 July / 18:00-19:30 (BST) / Essential Training Tutorial – Welcome and Training for Stage 2

Thu 28 July 18:00-18:45 (BST) / Lighthouse Lesson 4 – Weekly tutorial and support for Stage 2

Thu 04 August July 18:00-18:45 (BST) / Lighthouse Lesson 5 – Weekly tutorial and support for Stage 2

Sun 07 August / 23:58 (BST) / End of Stage 2 – Final additions to the map

Stage 1 and 2 Final Reunion Event

Thu 18 August / 18:00-19:00 (BST) / Lighthouse Reunion – Explore the completed map, discover our highlights, and celebrate your contributions!

Remember, all sessions will be recorded and available to watch afterwards.



Stage 1 aims to locate all the lighthouses that have, or had, a lens made in the Chance Brothers Glassworks in Smethwick. This stage will be entirely desk based and will focus on gathering pre-existing information on the lighthouses.

Stage 2 aims to enrich this information with photos, soundscapes, and condition or environmental-risk surveys. generated for the project. We are encouraging people (where safe to do so) to visit the lighthouses and lens and collect photos and soundscapes to add to the map.

Anyone who joins either stage is welcome to join our final reunion event on 18 August.



No, you don’t have to take part in both stages. You can sign up for Stage 1, Stage 2, or both stages.

And if you only sign up for Stage 1 to start with, you'll still be able to join Stage 2 later on.



No, you don’t need to bring anything! You only need a computer, an internet connection, and a pinch of curiosity.



We know from experience that some people love helping others, and want to advance their skills and confidence even further.

Becoming a ‘Leader’ is an option for anyone who is enjoying the project and wants to take things to the next level, by helping to review and verify new lighthouse pins, and providing help, support, and encouragement to others.

No prior skills or knowledge are needed to become a Leader, just time to invest and an eagerness to learn!

We will hold a separate tutorial in Week 2 to teach you everything you will need to know.

If you are interested in becoming a Lighthouse Leader please note this when registering. This is not a commitment, you can change your mind after starting the project. You do not have to become a Leader to participate in the mission.



The former Chance Brothers & Co glassworks in Smethwick, UK, was one of the world’s leading glass manufacturers and a pioneer of British glass-making technology, which opened in 1824.

In that time, the factory produced glass used in places like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben’s clockface, and the Crystal Palace in London. It also developed specialist glass for telescopes and lenses.

In 1848, they began working on lenses which were eventually used in around 2,500 lighthouses around the world.



This project is part of Made in Smethwick - an exciting season of events and activities taking place in and around Smethwick, highlighting how local lives are part of global history.

Focusing on stories relating to former industrial sites – like Chance Brothers & Co – the events are a chance for people to explore the town’s industrial heritage, discover history, and share their own ideas about what it’s like to live, work, and grow up in the area.



This isn’t the only Made in Smethwick event! Check out the full programme here.



This project has been funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.



Chance Heritage Trust is on a mission to raise the cultural profile of Smethwick’s industrial heritage, and bring former industrial buildings – like the iconic Chance Glassworks – back into use within the community.

Now, with help from the Community Renewal Fund, Chance Heritage Trust is starting to develop plans for the Chance Glassworks site.

This survey is part of a wider programme of community consultation, which will help to shape these plans.

How would you like to see these buildings used? And, apart from living and working spaces, what kind of opportunities and facilities should they contain for community use?

Fill out this short survey to have your say.

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