And these guys make a variety of decorative glassware, all of which can be bought in the shop. It's really lovely stuff, and it adds a certain je-ne-sais-qoui to have seen it being made. Bring your amex card though!!
In the Centre there are static displays and a number of hands-on things (mainly for kids) demonstrating the uses glass is put to, how it is made, the history of glass in Sunderland and so on. There are also live glass making demonstrations every hour on the hour. This guy has made a sheet of stained glass - it's made by blowing a long cylinder then slicing it open and unrolling it.
Glass making was also an important part of Sunderlands past. The first stained glass to be made in England was made at Sunderland in the 700's. The industry had fluctuating fortunes but on the whole prospered until fairly recently.
Most glass factories have now closed but the stained glass for Anglian Windows double glazing is still produced in Sunderland, and the Dow Corning factory still remains, making Pyrex glassware. In fact, ALL Pyrex ever produced in the UK comes from Sunderland.
The National Glass Centre has a roof made from glass and you are encouraged to walk on it. You can see down into the building, and those below can see up your skirt, ladies!!
There is something of an "Art Park" along the riverside walk. This is one of the sculptures and it shows a tree growing from the jib of an old shipyard crane, representing new growth from the old dead industry. Touching, and very nice, too.
Just down river of the Monkwearmouth Bridge, on the Northern side of the river, is Saint Peters Riverside.
The Monkwearmouth Bridge was at the time it was built (late 1700's) the largest single span cast iron bridge in the world.
This area was once occupied by docks and ship repair yards. Now it is reclaimed for recreation, and includes the National Glass Centre.
Taken from the edge of the Football Stadium's car park, this view down to the river shows how little remains of the traditional industry. The Liebherr Offshore Cranes yard is the only thing of any size that remains on this stretch of the river. To the left of this, and out of the picture, stands the Vaux Brewery, now also closed. The brewery was regarded as being surplus to requirements by the Vaux company, who decided to concentrate on owning hotels instead. Although I never really liked their beer, it was sad to see the brewery go, as it was a part of the City's heritage.
Marseden Rocks are a formation of rock stacks a few yards offshore from the cliffs. As well as their scenic beauty they also provide an important breeding ground for Cormorants, having the largest breeding colony in the North East. The cliffs are also an important breeding site for Kittewakes.
This archway of rock collapsed in the 90's and a famous North East landmark was gone (see next tip).
The most famous of the rock formations of Marsden is this one. It used to for an arch, but the second stack (which stood to its right as you look and obviously helped to support "the roof" of the arch) was in danger of collapsing, so the authorities blew it up. To make the job complete, they also took away the resulting rocks, so you can no longer tell what it used to be like.
More or less opposite the Souter Lighthouse is the remains of a group of lime kilns. Used to burn limestone to produce lime for use mainly as a fertilister and soil improver, these date from the late 1800's. The coal for the kilns came from any number of local collieries, all now gone.
Travelling North from Whitburn towards Marsden, you come to Souter Lighthouse. Now owned and maintained by the National Trust, this is an example of a traditional manned lighthouse. You can look around the lighthouse and the cottages surrounding it to see what life was like for a lighthouse keeper many years ago.
You can walk from here to Marsden, about 1/2 mile (3/4km) away, along a lovely cliff top walk. Don't wander too near the edge, though, and follow the signs.
Whitburn, a bit of a "Posh" area. Technically this part of town is in South Tyneside and is therefore not in Sunderland. No amusements, bigger houses and a lovely old village centre make Whitburn a very pleasant place.
Standing on the banks of the River Wear across from the City Centre, the football stadium of Sunderland AFC occupies a site that was, until very recently, a colliery.
It always looked bizzare, seeing the colliery winding gear and ventilation shafts in such close proximity to the City. Not only that, it's proximity to both the river and the sea leaves me in no doubt that I am glad I was not a miner!
Roker gives way to Seaburn, which has more of the usual seaside trappings - funfair (albeit small), amusements, hotels and guest houses, as well as beach and deckchairs. These sun worshippers lap up the sun on the slipway down to the beach.
Surprsingly many people do not realise that Sunderland is on the coast. A lot of river ports are not, they are often a few miles up river (Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Hull and London, for example), but Sunderland is bang on the coast. The city centre is a mile or so up river, but the city itself extends along the coast both to the North and South.
Heading North, you first come to the part of town known as Roker, which borders onto the harbour entrance. There is a lighthouse on the cliff top here which originally stood on the southern pier of the harbour entrance. It was dismantled and moved here in the 1980's when it was no longer needed.
In line with many new developments in the region where shipbuilding and docking has all but vanished (Newcastle and Hartlepool for example), new development has taken the form of housing and ameneties in the form of a "Marina".
There is a genuine Marina, with berthing for yachts and cruisers, and a variety of housing including 3 storey Town Houses, which are rather splendid.
There is also a watersports centre and a very good Italian Restaurant here, as well as the Sunderland inshore and offshore lifeboats.