The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers
The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers was founded in 1852 to improve the science and art of mining and to train professional mining engineers. In 1872 a purpose built library was completed in high Gothic style as a memorial to first President Nicholas Wood, as part of Neville Hall which housed offices of the Institute and the Coal Trades of Northumberland and Durham. Housing the College of Physical Science from 1871-1893, Neville Hall is the home of further education in Newcastle; the college is now called Newcastle University! The Institute rebuilt the College’s lecture theatre in 1902-6 for its own purposes. A 1/8th scale model of the Royal Institution Lecture Theatre provides 100 seats in tiers in an intimate lecture theatre with superb acoustics and excellent views. The room is panelled and furnished in Cuban Mahogany in boardroom style and designed around the speaker and the magic lantern – the latter replaced these days with a digital projector. Photographic portraits of past Presidents adorn the walls of the room adding to its presence and dignity. Neville Hall also houses the Arbitration Room used by the Coal Trades Associations and the mining unions of Durham and Northumberland where working terms and conditions and compensation deals were debated and agreed upon forming the basis of modern employment law. How many important debates have taken place within these walls we’ll never know, but you will be seated in rooms in which the future of the world was debated, then designed and built by engineers who led the world in innovation and on which foundation much of the 20th century was built and which remains relevant in the 21st century too.