The National Glass Centre – Sunderland

National Glass Centre

The National Glass Centre located in Sunderland is a popular culture venue and visitor attraction, owned by the University of Sunderland…

Unveiled by Prince Charles over a quarter of a century ago, the £17m Glass Centre in Sunderland is an iconic landmark standing proudly opposite the busy Corporation Quay on the north banks within the heart of the city and a stones throw away from St. Peter’s Church.

World Class Cultural Asset

The imperious glass and steel structure was given a healthy cash injection of £6.9m, raised from the National Lottery and was hailed as a ‘world class cultural asset’ by the white collar brigade.

National Glass Centre

The ambitious venture was also funded by the Arts Council in conjunction with the University of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear Development Corporation, European Regional Development Fund and Sunderland City Council.

Troubled Waters

Fast forward some 25 years and the silky smooth spiral entrance that welcomed many a Mackem through its friendly entrance, has become neglected and firmly jammed closed…

National Glass Centre

Don’t let the north facing entrance put you off; this wonderfully charismatic and warm space still has lots to offer every single day of the week, albeit you’ll need to enter either side of the tired revolving door, or even better via the riverside, soaking in the incredible views while eating and drinking whatever you fancy in the excellent Glass Yard cafe.

Unfortunately, the building has inherited some long-term structural defects which, among others, include its state of the art 3,250sq m glass roof that we the public could and, in my case, have ventured out onto. The roof is in effect a ‘viewing area’ looking straight down into the second tier of the building.

National Glass Centre

The Future Looks Hazy

Sunderland University has recently announced it will be investing £250 million over the next decade in a bid to transform the facilities at its campuses in the Sunderland and London locations, yet considers the repair costs to the National Glass Centre too ‘high’ to warrant any further works to begin.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “This investment reflects the standing and confidence of the University as it seeks to fulfil its life-changing purpose. It reflects too the transformational change that is taking place in the city of Sunderland, making it a great place to study, live and work. Alongside that, a new campus building in London will support the outstanding work we do in the capital, building on more than a decade of growth there.

“Students and staff will benefit from state-of-the art facilities in both Sunderland and London, enhancing our strong reputation for high-quality learning and teaching, and our society-shaping research and knowledge exchange activity.”

National Glass Centre

The National Glass Centre welcomes around 250,000 a year and continues to operate fully with glass blowing exhibitions demonstrated by skilled craftsmen given four times a day.

For those interested in making sure the 1350 year old tradition of glass making remains on Wearside can add their signature to over 30,000 others via this link.