Daniel Lockwood makes and repairs stained-glass windows in the garage next to the house where he grew up, doing the only job that he has ever known.
Memories gather in this place, and atoms of his past float around like motes of dust. Daniel points to a photograph on the wall of a Tetley dray horse, then roots about to pull out the plan his father drew years ago before turning that picture into a stained-glass window.
It’s not exactly tidy in here, with surfaces covered and repair jobs propped up, yet Daniel can lay his hands on whatever he needs, as if choreographed by time and habit. A stained-glass parrot made by his brother hangs nearby.
On the wall, there is an old tennis racquet Daniel filled with a stained-glass image of a player where the strings would normally be found. “That were boredom, that,” he says.
His father, Trevor Lockwood, set up Leaded Glass Studios in Bradford’s Bierley Lane in 1980. He had the idea for the business while working as an antique dealer, when he would send 40ft containers to America, often full of stained-glass windows. “But he thought, hang on, there’s a market for them here,” says Daniel.
Trevor had a national diploma in art and design, perhaps that helped, for he started making the windows himself and soon won a contract for Morrisons cafes. “And we used to do all the Tetley’s pubs,” says Daniel.
He wasn’t keen on joining the family business at first, but he didn’t like school and at the age of 15 his dad gave him an ultimatum – “Either go out to work and find a job or come into the garage and work.”
Daniel, now 45, chose the garage and that’s where he’s been ever since, through the ups and the downs of working with and without his family.
In this workshop, he makes new stained-glass windows and restores Victorian windows, working to the old ways, as taught by his father, all by hand and without a computer in sight, not that there would be room for one.
He brings old windows and doors back to life, and much of that work comes from London. “They want the original windows in modern frames,” he says, “and I am one of the quickest out there.”
Daniel calls this process encapsulation. He puts the original window inside a double-glazed unit so that his customers can have their old window in a new setting.
He is too busy nowadays to fill old tennis racquets with stained glass as he runs the business himself. It’s always been a family affair, and Daniel used to work with his father and his brother, Marcus, and his mother helped too. Then eight years ago his father died unexpectedly, beginning a flurry of bad family luck.
“The day after his funeral, my mum had a massive stroke,” says Daniel. “I looked after her for three years, did everything for my mum, then she passed away five years ago… Then my brother passed away two years ago.”
Marcus died of heart disease and to complete the run of misfortune, Daniel suffered a heart attack. “I had a lot of stress,” he says. “I had to have a stent fitted but I’m fine now.”
The family link continues as he is teaching the business to his 18-year-old stepson, Marshall. They work in the garage with the door open to the street and Daniel stops to talk to passers-by. “I know everyone around here,” he says.
This garage and the house next door are Daniel’s world, the only place he has ever lived and worked. “It’s bred in me, it’s all I’ve ever known,” he says, “I’ve got no qualification to my name.”
His designs are drawn from scratch. “I’ve never been to art college; I’ve just been brought up with it. Someone will send me a design and they’ll come in and choose colours. Everything is drawn by hand. Everything is old school. I’ll draw the design out for them, and every piece of glass is cut separately by hand.”
He picks up an oil-filled glass cutter to show how this is done, laying uncut pieces of glass over his drawing of a window design. He works quickly, all by eye, and with a scratch and squeak, the glass is cut exactly to the shape that he drew earlier. “Everything is like it was done a hundred years ago.”
That said, he harnesses modern tools, too, posting videos to display his skills on Facebook and Instagram. “I’ve got a lot of Americans wanting online classes,” he says. “I didn’t realise how quick I was at making stained-glass windows.
"I put posts on stained-glass sites and people were saying, ‘You can’t do it that quickly’, and I said, ‘I can’. I don’t think when I’m doing it. When I cut a window, I think about what I’m having for my tea. It’s second nature.”
When Daniel has finished cutting the glass, he assembles the window. He uses half-inch lead cane, first stretching it taut. “When you’ve done that, you cut your outside piece of lead to size, and you’ll start in the bottom corner and put your first piece of glass in. It’s basically like a jigsaw but with lead. Once all your windows are made, you put tallow where every joint meets.”
He uses tallow sticks made from mutton fat. “Where every piece of lead joins you put tallow on and then solder where you’ve put the tallow. Everything I do is what they would have done years ago. I use old horseshoe nails to hold the pieces of lead together. With them being flat, it won’t chip your glass.”
Daniel gives a demonstration, fitting the pieces of glass, adding the lead and the tallow, and applying the heat from a gas solder iron to hold the window together.
“Once you’ve soldered all your window, you use leaded light cement, it’s like a black putty, and you rub it all over the window and it waterproofs the window and makes it rigid and solid. Once you’ve done that, you can polish your window to a shine,” he says.
Daniel is sentimental about his tools and still uses the same pliers he had at 15. “To someone else, that’s just a pair of pliers,” he adds. “But I’d be devastated if I lost them.”
He points to the wall where various tools hang. “I’ve got a new pair in a packet up there, but I’ve never used them.” Next to that unopened packet hang the tools once used by his brother.
Daniel reckons his work should last as long as the stained-glass windows made by Victorian cutters of glass over a century ago. “What I am making now will outlive me easily and will be around for 100 years. I’m very proud of that. I see a lot of stuff I’ve done and think, I made that years ago.”
He thinks his father would be proud of him. “I’ve gone through a lot in my life. I lost all my family in five years, apart from my partner and children. But I’m privileged to have a gift like I’ve got.”
It’s all thanks to his father, and his own graft. “When I was working for my dad, he pushed me a lot, but I didn’t realise. When we were in the garage working, he was my boss, and when we were in the house, he was my dad…. it’s my dad who made me who I am.”
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