By Graeme Whitfield
July 9, 2018 - One of Newcastle, England's finest but least known buildings has been given the go-ahead for a major restoration project after winning a £4.1m lottery grant.
The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, close to Central Station, was a key meeting place in the 19th century as scientists and engineers on Tyneside helped drive the Industrial Revolution.
How the Mining Institute's Neville Hall would look after restoration
Image by Clouston Group and EYELEVEL Creative
The site houses an extensive archive and is currently hosting a number of displays linked to the Great Exhibition of the North.
It will now be turned into a public space known as the Common Room of the North which aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As well as repairs to the building and upgrades to make it more accessible, the grant will help digitise the Mining Institute’s unique mining archive.
Liz Mayes, chief executive of The Common Room project, said: “We are over the moon to have secured funding to revitalize the Mining Institute.
“This enables us to create an accessible, inspiring, high quality space, with a mission to use our unique heritage to inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers.
Photo by Newcastle Chronicle
The Institute was founded in 1852, partly funded by a bequest from railway pioneer Robert Stephenson. It was the first professional mining institute in the world, aiming to “advance the science and art of mining” and to bring down the death toll and accidents in the industry.
In recent years, however, the building was at risk of being sold, and the collection dispersed but the restoration project will now build on support from the Reece Foundation, Caterpillar and Nissan to return it to its original function as a hub for education and training.
The project is one of four industrial heritage schemes to be backed with lottery cash. Two schemes in Nottinghamshire and one in Wales have also won funding.
Sir Peter Luff, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “British industry, manufacturing and engineering changed the world. Places like the Mining Institute, and communities such as those in Nottinghamshire and Blaenavon, were pivotal in this important moment in our history.
“That’s why we’re investing £8.6m to help local communities reconnect with their heritage and to explore and celebrate our industrial past.
“We believe that Britain’s powerful industrial heritage has a role to play in encouraging future generations to pick STEM careers. These four projects will not only inspire new talent, but also provide much-needed training and educational opportunities.”
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