John Smith – As Operations Manager for decades John looked after Broadfield House Glass Museum. The role was far more diverse than many people will ever understand. John was responsible for the upkeep of the building and he knew Broadfield House thoroughly from the depths of the cellar to the top of the roof. He knew the building like the back of his hand. Any problems would be spotted fairly swiftly and over the years John developed countless contacts to troubleshoot on many levels. John also took a keen interest over what went on within the scholarship studio in the barn attached to the glass museum. It’s fair to say that John assisted countless studio occupants as newcomers to the world of glass. Possessing pieces of paperwork stating that they were glass artists didn’t necessarily give them the knowledge of how to look after a glass studio! John was a valuable set of eyes in the background to assist and help nurture and support these new glass artists launch their careers. Helen Millard is one of the artists who John helped and supported and really got behind and pushed to pursue a higher level. She is eternally grateful for his help. Allister Malcolm appreciated countless informal discussions that took place of where John offered really sensible guidance. He became a bit of a careers advisor within the world of glass for many and a firm friend.
John possessed a huge knowledge of historical glass which was of huge benefit to those visiting the museum. He worked hard to help identify pieces for visitors to the museum and for those who enquired online. John worked tirelessly to help wade through the countless number of enquiries that came through trying to assist people in identifying – not only identifying the piece of glass but also to give a little bit of the social history behind those pieces. He was well respected within his field as somebody who knew an awful lot on the subject.
On his days off John could be found combing the local car boot sales and antique fairs searching for gems that may not have been accurately identified as significant historical pieces. He sourced the stock for the glass in the museum shop, supporting local artists and building an extensive collection of specialist books on the subject of glass.
Like most enthusiasts John’s job was never confined to a 9-to-5 position and he took a huge interest in what happened around the building. He was an avid nature lover particularly in the park tavern where a lot of the local wildlife would gather! – joking aside John would be often seen patrolling the museum in an evening with an air rifle! some mistakenly thinking that it was to protect the building from the local youth. John was quite interested in keeping the local magpie population down – no witnesses can verify how successful his aim was, but the good intent was there. In stark contrast he regularly fed the local foxes and badgers to ensure that their population was well maintained and was always on the lookout to ensure that the Hawk living at the top of Broadfield House was safe and sound and continued to live there breeding. John also ensured the grounds of the museum were well looked after – and took particular pride in his little garden just outside his flat. The focus of this was all about the support of local wildlife.
John’s job required him to troubleshoot on many levels. Sorting issues from high winds bringing down the chimney stacks crashing into the car park in the early hours of the morning through two alarms going off and floods. One of the more memorable incidents being a swarm of bees nesting in the loft space. When the honey production became so prolific the honey started leaking through the ceiling into John bath! When The appropriate people were called to sort the situation the bees were removed safely the area cleaned out and everything made right. a few weeks later Helen Millard decided to play a little bit of a prank on John buying a jar of honey then pouring it into his bath exclaiming “oh no John they’re back again”. His face apparently went white and the words that came from his lips are not really repeatable right now. On this latter note John was known for not suffering fools gladly and was known for speaking his mind even if the opinion wasn’t a popular view. He cared passionately about the glass collections and everything that surrounded them. His presence will be missed on many levels within the glass community.
His funeral was held on Thursday 23 January 2020.