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Manufacturer brings historic industry back to Wearside

An age-old North East industry which originated in Sunderland in AD 624 has returned to Wearside with the launch of a new manufacturing

Centuries after Sunderland first made a global name for itself as a world leader in industrial glassware manufacturing, a new business has brought the sector back to the region.

Crystal and glassware specialist Dunelm Glass, which derives the bulk of its revenues from supplying awards to some of the world’s biggest brands, has launched Dunelm Scientific.

The new entity, based at Dunelm’s Houghton-le-Spring HQ, will manufacture specialist ICP glassware products with a range of applications including in torches and spray chambers, as well producing laboratory equipment.

Its products, which will be sold into several major global industries, include those made from Quartz and Borosilicate glass.

Quartz has special thermal qualities and can be found in components of high tech products such as medical devices and space exploration equipment.

The launch of Dunelm Scientific takes the business full circle, with the group having started out in 1980 as a manufacturer of glass equipment.

Amid the rise of cheaper manufacturing bases in India and China, it later diversified away from manufacturing and instead focused largely on producing awards on behalf of the likes of McDonalds, Barclays, Facebook and the BBC.

It has received a number of major accolades in the awards-producing sector including being recently named Supplier of the Year by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA).

But with economic conditions continually improving and having discovered this niche in the market, the group believes now is the right time to return to manufacturing and its new enterprise will become the only firm of its kind in the UK.

Ritchie Wilson, whose father founded Dunelm before handing over the reins to his son due to ill health eight years ago, said: “We’re delighted to be stepping up our manufacturing capabilities once more through the launch of the new venture and we believe there is a real opportunity to grow the business on the back of our very specialist skillset and world-leading expertise.”

Alongside managing director Ritchie Wilson, Dunelm Scientific is led by sales director Chris Smith and technical director Neil Davison.

The firm, which has already added several new clients including Northumbrian Water and Derwentside Environmental Testing Services (DETS), is now in the process of a recruitment drive.

Having welcomed former Dunelm apprentice Neil Davison back to the company after a seven year stint working in the industry in Canada, it has also added three new staff including a glassblower to its team. It is also seeking to recruit an apprentice glassblower and is working with the North East Chambers of Commerce to do so.

Ritchie Wilson added: “What we do is particularly high-end and niche and so we have an extremely experienced team of technical glassblowers in our ranks. Glassblowing is a skill in short supply and so we are looking to help bridge the skills gap through an apprenticeship and help put Sunderland back on the map in the glass making sector, which dates back to AD674 in this part of the world.”


For more information on Dunelm Scientific visit: www.dunelmscientific.com.

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