The National Glass Centre on Liberty Way, Sunderland, SR6 0GL is set to re-open this weekend following its six month closure for a £2.2 million refurbishment. From this weekend visitors can see new exhibitions, special events and family friendly activities including hands-on arts and crafts activities, themed tours and treasure hunts and free glass-blowing demonstrations. A new permanent exhibition “Stories of Glass in Sunderland” will also be unveiled tracing the history of glass-making in Sunderland from the 7th century. The new gallery spaces will also host a wide range of international exhibitions, presenting the work of leading contemporary artists in glass and ceramics.
The National Glass Centre in Sunderland’s re-launch on Saturday 29th June is part of the Festival of the North East and the film below courtesy of North East Film Archive (NEFA) features craftsman glass blowers at the Wear Flint Glass Works in Sunderland in the 1960s.
Sunderland’s glass making tradition dates back to 674 when French and Italian glaziers were invited over by the Anglo-Saxon abbot Benedict Biscop and made the windows for the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory. The Wear Flint Glass Works shown in the video above was launched in 1858 by Angus and Greener, with ownership passing to James Augustus Jobling in 1885. Jobling and Co. enjoyed great success from 1921 when Jobling Purser purchased the right to manufacture and market the PYREX brand heat resistant glassware from the American firm Corning Inc. Few people outside the north east realise that each item of desirable and durable PYREX domestic glass ware, with designs such as Gaeity, Snowflake, Matchmaker, Fiesta and Tally-Ho hunting for Ringtons, found in every British kitchen after World War II, originated in Sunderland with Joblings. Corning Glass took control of the Pyrex factory in 1973. The business was again sold to Newell Ltd in 1994 and then to Arc International. But in 2007 production moved to France, and commercial glass manufacture ended in Sunderland after hundreds of years. The region’s few remaining glass craftsmen now practice their art in the workshops of the National Glass Centre, close to the site of the original Monkwearmouth priory.
A video of current glass blowing at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland can be seen in the video below.
If you’re looking for hotel accommodation near The National Glass Centre on Liberty Way in Sunderland SR6 0GL our bed and breakfast availability is here: online booking. We are approximately 15 minutes drive from the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.