"Smethwick, a large and populous manufacturing hamlet, forms the northern division of Harborne parish, and is distant from three to four miles W by N of Birmingham, near the Dudley road, the Birmingham Canal, and the Stour Valley Railway which has a station here.
It includes the southern part of Spon Lane, many extensive iron works, and two large glass works. The Summit Bridge, on the canal, near Galton Hall (the residence of John Freeth, Esq) is a neat iron structure of one arch. The Birmingham Plate Glass Works, on the south side of the canal, employs 350 workpeople. Chance Brothers & Co's extensive Glass Works, in Spon Lane, are the largest crown and sheet glass works in England, and employ about 1200 hands. Here was made nearly all the glass for the Crystal Palace, erected in London in 1851. Messrs Fox, Henderson & Co, were the contractors for building this immense structure, and nearly all the ironwork used in its construction was manufactured at their extensive Iron Works at Smethwick & Woodside, where they employ from 1000 to 2000 hands.
Here are about a dozen other foundries and iron works, for the manufacture of bar, rod, and sheet iron; steel, cast and wrought iron articles, machinery, etc, and here is the large foundry which forms part of James Watt & Co's celebrated steam engine manufactory.
Most of the iron works here have been established during the last 20 years. They give employment to many of the inhabitants of the surrounding parishes. Many new streets are now in course of formation, and the bustle created by the iron and glass works, and the extensive traffic on the canal, give Smethwick the air of an important town."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]