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Historic Newcastle hall opens its rooms to public for the first time

Newcastle Mining Institute throws open historic chambers Neville Hall in Wetsgate Road in Newcastle to public view for the Late Shows

Vladimir the clown will perform at The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers
Vladimir the clown will perform at The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

Rooms where coal barons and Freemansons met, North East railway policy was laid down and deals were brokered with unions are to open for the first time to the public - and will even host circus skills.

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers has occupied part of Neville Hall in Wetsgate Road in Newcastle since it opened in 1872.

The hall has been shared with a range of other bodies but now the institute has taken over the whole of the grade II-star listed building.

And people will now be able to view previously private chambers as part of the Late Shows event next weekend on Friday and Saturday, May 16-17, from 7pm-11pm.

During the Saturday Late Shows event, performers from Newcastle-based Circus Central will be going through their paces in the library and the lecture theatre.

'Bare foot businessmen' Paul Dewhurst and Dan Brown from Circus Central, who are to perform at institute
'Bare foot businessmen' Paul Dewhurst and Dan Brown from Circus Central, who are to perform at institute

Over the years Neville Hall has housed the Mining Institute and offices of the Coal Trades of Northumberland and Durham, representing colliery owners on the first floor.

The second floor was occupied by the professors of the College of Physical Science, which paved the way for higher education in Newcastle.

Open for view on the Saturday will be the ground floor suite which was the board room for the North Eastern Railway Company.

It has also housed the Newcastle Stock Exchange, the National Coal Board and latterly the offices of the Freemasons Provincial Grand Lodge of Northumberland.

Also on view will be the chequered ceiling and dome of the Arbitration and Conciliation Room, where unions and coal owners met to thrash out pay deals and compensation claims.

Visitors can also see the institute’s spectacular Wood Memorial Library, which reflects the importance and power of the mining industry to the North East.

Centre stage is taken by a statue of Nicholas Wood, the institute’s first president.

“ It reflects Wood’s enormous contribution to mining science and engineering. He was a great friend of George and Robert Stephenson and played a key role in developing the railways in Britain behind the scenes,” said institute secretary Simon Brooks.

The institute’s map room will also be open as will its 1895 lecture theatre, lined with the images of past presidents.

“The building is now in one ownership for the first time and this is a unique opportunity to see rooms which have not been altered for a hundred years,” said Mr Brooks.

The institute has the biggest coal mining library in the world and one of the best archives and collections.

It will now be possible to improve the storage, expansion and access to the collections and provide access to all parts of the hall while there are also plans to restore the building.

Part of the property will be used to generate new streams of revenue to provide a sustainable future for the institute which is recognised as having collections of world importance to the story of the Industrial Revolution in which the North East played a key part.

A total of 56 venues have signed up to be a part of The Late Shows 2014, a free annual event co-ordinated by Tyne Wear Archives and Museums which sees museums, galleries, artists’ studios and heritage sites staying open into the evening and offering a huge variety of free events for visitors.

Last year the Late Shows venues had 32,960 visits.

A free bus service will be provided to help people move between venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. The full programme is at thelateshows.org.uk

In Gateshead, venues will open from 6pm – an hour earlier than Newcastle venues – so people have more time to visit different locations.

Bill Griffiths, project manager for The Late Shows, said: “This is the eighth year that The Late Shows has taken place and we’re really excited about the line-up.

“We’re welcoming some new venues like the Tyne Bridge North Tower where artist Ed Carter has worked with the Northern Institute of Cancer Research to make a really exciting artwork using light and sound, inside this amazing hidden space.”

The Late Shows line-up includes:

Friday May 16 and Saturday May 17, 7-11pm

*The artists’ collective 36 Lime Street in the Ouseburn in Newcastle will open the doors of their listed building of five floors of artist and maker studios.

* The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, hosts its first pop-up portrait studio inspired by figurative artist Peter Hallam.

* St Dominic’s Priory: Angelic Light: an evening of music, art and performance around the theme of light and angels.

* Toffee Factory: Take to the floor on the hour every hour with the hottest tunes from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s. Vintage stalls and cocktails.

* Gateshead Old Town Hall, Saturday, 6-11pm. An open mic night with any musicians who want to take the stage welcome, while East Street Arts will open their studios.

*Shipley Art Gallery: Saturday only, 6-11pm. For the first time, ¡VAMOS! will be at The Late Shows with music and street food Latin American style.

* St Mary’s Heritage Centre, Gateshead: Watch silent film from Gateshead Libraries local history archive animated by local folk music played by Johnny Handle.

The Black Gate, Newcastle, Saturday, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm. The Black Gate will be opening as Newcastle’s newest visitor attraction in the summer but visitors will be able to have a preview of the newly refurbished interior and find out about the story of the castle.

* Castle Keep. Take in the night time views of the city from the rooftop. The Cherry Pickers band will also feature.

* Discovery Museum: Games Central with plenty of ball games. Inspired by the Toon Times exhibition.

* Side Gallery: Opening of its new exhibition, Legacy, featuring work by Polish, Ukranian, Russian, Canadian and British documentary photographers.

The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas; Explore the cathedral by candlelight and find out about the siege of Newcastle 350 years ago with tours of the cathedral tower.

*Tyne & Wear Archives, Blandford House.

View hundreds of free film and TV clips from over the years, from local rivalries in the Tyne-Wear derby to swimming galas in Tynemouth Harbour.

Laing Art Gallery. Canadian artist Kelly Richardson has created Mariner 9, a giant panoramic vision of the planet Mars set 200 years in the future.


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