May I point out that there is little comparaison between The National Glass Centre in Sunderland , and the Dudley possibilities?
1.The Sunderland Centre is a purpose built modern glass and steel centre, without any
industrial heritage buildings connected with glass making! Just legend!
2. It took on Hartley Wood glass, based in Sunderland, about 20 people, of which about
14 actually made glass, the other six were administrators, of which there were three
directors all given BMW cars!
3. It is the perfect example of how NOT to design a glass factory. have too many chiefs
and not enough Indian braves, do no research into the potential market, start by
charging £5 a head to view the set up and when visitor numbers fail, allow viewing for
4. Do not attract talented young studio glass makers in, and give them subsidized units in
return for free viewing and a ready made visitor shop outlet.
5.Do no research into the market and potential for the stained glass you are making.
6. Buy in glass from your competitors to stock out the shop ( Caithness, Dartington,
Royal Brierley gifts, etc), thus reducing sales of made on the premises items.
7. Do no research into what people want to buy and provide for the market.
8. Do not encourage a team work ( all pull together) between curators and glass makers.
9. Do not establish a brand with a talented designer allowing you to sell to other retail
10. Sell the ruins of the glass set up to an asset stripper, who has no plans of keeping it
alive, rather than wait for the right buyer to come along.
11. Does Sunderland have one of the finest glass Museums and artifacts in the world?
If so I've never seen them!
12. Finally, open the Centre at the height of one the worst recessions in a highly
depressed area ( which attracted the EU and local Government grants, of course!).
So now, who is surprised it has virtually failed to achieve its aims ?
Having said that the idea was laudable, and it does play an important educational role and encourage school children to join the industry.....OOOPS
the local industry has now closed, with Pyrex/ Corning and Arc moving out!
Could Sunderland ever be another Ironbridge? Ship building was the main industry there surely!
But Dudley with its under used canals for sustainable transport and leisure tours could,
if it learns the lessons of Sunderland!
( How do I know so much about it? I was talking this week over lunch with the furnace
builder who now owns what is left of Hartley Wood, who opened my eyes!)