Tyne and Wear
Glass, Art, Regeneration
Sunderland has a link back to the beginning of glassmaking in Britain.
In 674 AD, Benedict Biscop, the founder of Monkwearmouth monastery, imported glassmakers from Gaul. In the 17th century, the availability of coal, salt and sand gave rise to glass manufacture and by the middle of the 19th century the town was producing vast quantities of glass including at least a third of the plate glass used in Britain. James Hartley of Hartley’s Glassworks invented a heavy duty roofing glass which was first used at Monkwearmouth Station in 1848.
The National Glass Centre, opened in 1998, celebrates this industrial heritage and it too has a reinforced-glass roof upon which intrepid visitors can walk. Inside, among a range of exhibitions about the history of glass, visitors can watch demonstrations of glass blowing and other historic processes, while glass artists have studio space to maintain the city’s ancient link with glass.