Sunderland Guide: National Glass Centre

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Location: Access Liberty Way from St. Peter’s Way from the North side of Monkwearmouth Bridge. It is also accessible from the Riverside.

For over 1000 years the River Wear has been home to the industry of glassmaking, a legacy stemming from access to plentiful sand around the coast. The Venerable Bede first brought French glassmakers to Monkwearmouth in order to create the stained glass windows of the nearby St. Peter’s Church. This established a precedent in Sunderland which from the 18th century onwards would blossom into a booming trade, establishing much sought after brands such as Sunderland Lusterware.

The National Glass Centre, opened in 1998, is a museum that stands as a legacy to the city’s glassmaking past and a pinnacle of the area’s regeneration. Established on the site of the former J.L. Thompson and Sons shipyard, the centre hosts a variety of artistic Glass making exhibitions, explores the history of glassmaking, and also provides a wide variety of activities and classes that allows you to participate in the beauty of glass related art yourself. It also sells a number of glass products.

Since 2018, the National Glass Centre is also home to what is known as the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art which was originally based in Fawcett Street. The Gallery hosts art from all over the world and is one of the largest exhibits in the North East of England.

Admission to the National Centre is free. We recommend it as a fun, educational and inspiring day out whilst walking along Sunderland’s Riverfront, visiting the Marina afterwards and then Roker Promenade.