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SCENE: The National Glass Centre by Victoria Baker of Little Wren Pottery


Prince Charles officially opened the National Glass Centre in 1998 as the first national lottery funded building. Since then, the centre has been home to the history of traditional glassmaking and contemporary artists, thanks to its links with Sunderland University. If you’re visiting Sunderland it can be found on the north side of the River Wear next to the Monkwearmouth Church.


Glassmaking in the North East was introduced from France in AD674 to the monastery at St Peter’s, making Sunderland one of the earliest glassmaking centres in the UK. By the 19th Century the cities glassmakers were each producing 4000 items a week to fulfil international demand. James I banned the use of wood in glass production to protect the


116 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2011


nations dwindling forests, so success was partly fuelled by the abundance of coal in the area used to heat the huge furnaces needed to melt sand into liquid.


In 1921 Ernest Jobling bought the


patent rights to produce Pyrex glass and, until the closure of the factory in 2007, every piece of Pyrex domestic ware in the UK was produced at the Corning’s Glass Factory in Sunderland. The Corning factory was the end of commercial


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