A Lingering look through glass factory windows

Looking out of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland

Looking out from the National Glass Centre, in Sunderland

In my Monday post A promenade to Roker we took a walk through Sunderland’s ship building past.  Though ships are no longer built here, a thriving cargo trade has developed on the River Wear today.  The National Glass Centre occupies the former site of J. L. Thompson and Sons shipyard, on the north bank of the river, and is witness to most of the comings and goings.

Glass making was introduced to Britain from France in 674, specifically for the windows of the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory, which stood not far from here. The industry thrived on cheap local coal in the 18th century, and Sunderland gradually established a name for glass.  The Pyrex factory was based here until its closure in 2007.

The construction of the National Glass Centre in 1998 was a bold move, part of a regeneration scheme in a declining area.  Today the centre is free to visit, with daily guided tours.

Keep an eye on the boats while you admire the glassware

You can keep an eye on the boats while you admire the glassware

I know someone who loves owls!

I know someone who loves owls!

Part of the fascination is watching the glass workers ply their trade.

Behind glass, of course!

Behind glass, of course!

There's bound to be an element of danger

There’s bound to be an element of danger, isn’t there?

The building itself is quite interesting, and there’s a restaurant looking out onto the riverside.

Just a few more reflections

And in the vestibule, possibly my favourite thing- this suspended glass sculpture.

Let's raise a glass!

Let’s raise a glass!

The National Glass Centre website gives full details of opening times, events and free tours.

I really enjoyed putting this post together for Dawn’s weekly Lingering Look at Windows challenge.  Hope you like it too.


  1. Wow, your photos are fantastic …. love that you have let the harbor and boat be a background. Amazing pieces … did you buy any. Now I know where I will take you when you come to Sweden – the kingdom of crystal … http://www.glasriket.se/en – English link. You will love it. Thanks for taking me along … I really enjoyed the visit.

    1. Oh, that would be so nice! I’ve always had a soft spot for glass. Mam used to keep glass bells and a lot of exotic bits in her china cabinet. No, I didn’t buy- did you see those price tags! No wonder they don’t charge admission, but it was such a fun post to do. Thanks for keeping me company, Vivi 🙂 Laundry done? I’m just back from t’ai chi.

  2. Now that is a place for me to go to. If not, you made a really outstanding tour for it. Loving all the displays. When I was in Japan, there are certain places where people can pay to make their own drinking glass and keep it.

    1. I’m sure I saw a link to somewhere in California where you can do the same thing, Rommel. Not necessarily a glass, though I admit, I’d find that very useful 🙂 I really love glass, especially the coloured variety.

  3. Very beautiful images where processed glass. I think it is a large job to create a glass, but to be craftsmanship, skill, patience and lots of love.
    Thank you for sharing these images so beautiful in art glassware!
    Have a wonderful day, restlessjo! 🙂

    1. I can’t remember too much but they are black and white filaments of some sort which turn as they catch the sunlight, Sue. See Robin’s comment (it’s the first). He was obviously a good boy scout. The glass sculpture is brilliant! I have some more shots from different angles but didn’t want to overload this post more. If you follow the glass centre link within the post you might get a better answer.

  4. Such a fantastic place Jo ! I really enjoyed this post .. I do hope people really make the most of the free entrance and support local talented artists . Who isn’t amazed at a piece of molten glass being ‘blown …

  5. ancora una interessante ed affascinante passeggiata fra le tue vele, i vetri ci stanno proprio bene là in mezzo!
    passa una buona sera!

    still an interesting and fascinating walk through your sails, the glasses are really good there in the Middle!
    passes a good evening!

  6. Thanks for the visit Jo, at least coming along with you saved me a few hundred quid 🙂
    Those ships are a bit of a distraction though I suppose if you’d tried to photograph the displays from outside you’d have got all sorts of other reflections in the glass. And I never knew where pyrex came from. I still have a couple of bowls that belonged to my mother!!

    1. I liked the backdrop of the ships, Jude, in a contrary way, but you’re right- not so easy to get good shots from outside. I played silly beggars for ages while the walkers were inside having lunch 🙂

  7. Lovely glass sculptures. I too love the owls and the suspended sculpture. I saw a beautiful chandelier made of wine glasses in a fancy winery just a couple of weeks ago when we went to Margaret River, one of Perth’s favourite getaway towns

  8. This place is incredible but I am completely in love with those owls! They would certainly complete (or add to) my collection!
    Hope your well, Jo. I hope you don’t mind, I saved the owls and will attempt to crop for my wallpaper. LOVE THEM!

  9. Pyrex closed? Their products were all over the world. We used to Spanishize (?) it to PEE-rex 🙂
    The restaurant looks like a great place for lunch (unless it’s raining, and it being England, chances of rain are good! )

    1. No, never rains in England, Ana! (not for the past week, anyway 🙂 ) ‘Peerex’ and a company called Corning were highly successful globally. Funny how times change.

  10. I love glass artists, and this looks like an amazing place, Jo. I would love wandering around here. I love the suspended glass sculpture and the quirky eyes. And what a setting, right along the quay. Looks like another good day for Jo! 🙂 xxx

    1. I combined this with the riverside walk, Cathy, and it makes a great day out. I suspect you would have loved the food in the restaurant, but, of course, I didn’t indulge! (too busy taking photos 🙂 Just as well because I know you hate food photos!

      1. Haha, yes, I really do hate food photos! They make my mouth water too much. 🙂 It looks like a lovely day and I would have enjoyed accompanying you on your photo walk, Jo. Looks like you’re out and about quite frequently these days. 🙂

    2. Can’t stay in when the weather’s nice, Cathy, and it’s been a lovely week so my legs are worn out! Freezing today though 😦 Went to Newcastle to meet a friend but the sky was too grey and uninviting for many photos.

      1. I know what you mean, Jo. I always want to get outdoors when the weather is nice, which seems to be rare these days. I do plan to venture out in the snow today though.

        Sometimes it seems these gray skies make for dreary photos. As the storyteller photographers say, “weather is your friend.” So I guess we have to try to make the best of even the bad weather. We went out yesterday to Great Falls and it was so dreary out. I wish the sun had been shining so I could have had better pictures. 🙂

      2. This morning was grey and I haven’t checked the shots yet. If it is I try to focus more on specific or colourful things and close ups rather than panoramic. 🙂

  11. Love this post for the challenge. I must admit, I’m also fascinated watching glass workers ply their trade. It almost feels like watching a lost art.

  12. The Glass Centre looks really interesting, I fancy a trip. Trouble is, my Geordie wife won’t go near Sunderland 😦 I used to have one of those ‘light bulbs’ as a kid – they turn as a result of the sun falling on the alternate black and white surfaces of the blades. Thanks Jo – happy memories again.

    1. Dare I suggest you ‘go without her?’ 🙂
      The light bulbs are brilliant and I took lots of shots of the glass sculpture in the vestibule, which is entirely made up of them. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Robin.
      Go on! Go South! The natives are almost friendly.

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