Sunderland's National Glass Centre is doomed after just 25 years - but it's a toddler compared to the 1,350-year-old St Peter's Church up the road
It’s been a few weeks now since the future of the National Glass Centre in Monkwearmouth was thrown into doubt. All that has been confirmed since is uncertainty.
It seems likely that Sunderland will still at least be home to the centre; a wonderful asset to the city. But where?
The venue also homes the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. The University of Sunderland, which owns the building, runs its glass and ceramics academic programmes there. There’s a restaurant too.
It has been mooted that everything there be relocated to the forthcoming Culture House at Keel Square. But that might be a bit of a squeeze and could upend plans for a ‘Pink Slices Through the Ages’ zone there.
Flippancy aside, this is a serious issue if only for the cost of whatever happens next. Expect an interesting bun fight in the council chamber.
It’s a shame that the (currently) existing building would appear doomed. I don’t recall anyone saying how much they hated it, which qualifies as universal praise. We all want to promote Sunderland’s glorious industrial heritage too.
However, what seems to be a distantly secondary issue here is how the National Glass Centre is in such apparently poor condition.
The Observer says an external report “identified long-term structural defects, including roof leaks, corrosion and broken glazing (oh the irony)” … “work (is) required to prevent further corrosion and ‘partial collapse’ of rusted steelwork”.
Even those who share my level of knowledge of construction, civil engineering and metallurgy – none whatsoever – may well wonder at this.
A toddler of a building, it only opened in 1998, is reportedly dropping to bits. How can this be?
The nearby Stadium of Light opened the year before. It’s a very different building but, apart from needing the equivalent of a wash, brush-up and manicure, the place is as pucker today as it was in 1997.
But never mind the Glass Centre’s contemporaries. The irony of it being a minute’s walk from St Peter’s Church, in use since 674 AD, has not been lost.
Still, what’s a 1,324 years difference between friends.