Towering achievement for local stained glass expert

Entertainment / Sun 31st Mar 2024 at 09:36am

By Helen Miller

WHEN you’re next in London crossing Tower Bridge in the direction of the South Bank you might just catch a glimpse of the work of local craftsman, Tom Vowden. Tom, who’s a stained glass and leaded lights expert based at Grandey’s Place Heritage & Craft Centre in Green Tye, has just completed some restoration work on the iconic landmark.

Tom was commissioned to work on lattice windows on one of the bridge’s two smaller gateway towers, known as abutments, which mark the entrance and exits to the north and south banks of the Thames.

Tower Bridge was opened to the public on June 30th 1894 but 130 years on, original windows closest to the Thames waterline in the southern abutment were in very bad shape with buckled leadwork and severe weather damage.

“It is one of the smaller jobs I’ve ever done,” says Tom “but at the same time, it was for one of the world’s most iconic buildings. It was very exciting to do, just for the view as much as anything!”

Tom, who has an MA in Stained Glass Conservation and is a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust Craft Scholar, is no stranger to celebrated landmarks, undertaking conservation work on some of the finest stained glass in the country including the Great East Window at York Minister, the Palace of Westminster and Trinity College, Oxford.

Tom says the diamond-shaped, hand-blown glass of the windows at Tower Bridge – complete with their open lattice ventilation grilles at the top – made restoration easier than on other more colourful projects. But there were nevertheless challenges to overcome.

“The windows were pretty tricky to take out and put back in as you usually can get access from both sides, but here one side was the Thames. We had to take extra measures to prevent them from falling into the river. I brought my swimming trunks just in case!” he jokes.

Tom is among a score of exceptionally talented artists and makers who work from studios and workshops at Grandey’s Place, which was set up in 2019 to help sustain the UK’s crafts and heritage crafts.

For more information on Tom’s work and to book one of his regular stained glass courses, visit www.coruscateglass.com.

To book a tour of Grandey’s Place visit www.grandseysplace.co.uk

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1 Comment for Towering achievement for local stained glass expert:

2024-03-31 11:22:18

Congratulations Tom, great to see a local master craftsman has a window in the history of such a structure that such an iconic landmark. It would be good if you were able to exhibit at the town Museum and Gibberd Gallery and recognised by Harlow Creates.

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