Neville Hall - Atlas Obscura

Neville Hall

This building played host to some of the most influential minds of the Industrial Revolution and now serves as a reminder of the influence of Northern coalfields. 

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Built in 1872, this high Gothic building was constructed as the headquarters for the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMME). It served as a learned society for the most influential mining engineers of the period and as a meeting place to share ideas and innovations as well as discuss policy. In true Victorian grandeur, the interior is clad with rare natural stonework adorned with exquisite carvings, beautifully decorated ceilings, and stained-glass windows.

The NEIMME, which received a royal charter from Queen Victoria, was founded in 1852 by Nicholas Wood, largely in response to a series of devastating mining disasters in the area such as the Felling Colliery disaster (1812), the Herrington Colliery disaster (also 1812), the Wallsend Colliery disaster (1821) and the St. Hilda Colliery disaster (1839).

The goals set by the institute were to improve safety, working conditions, and welfare for mine workers. Miners would use oil lamps as a source of light which due to the presence of coal dust and gases would cause explosions. This led Wood (alongside fellow industrialist George Stephenson) to design a mining safety lamp known as the “Geordie Lamp.” For his influence and as the founder of the NEIMME, Wood would be immortalized with a statue in the main room of Neville Hall, in what is now known as the Wood Memorial Hall.

Today, Neville Hall holds one of the largest collections of mining literature in the world with over 35,000 volumes dating from 1556. It also boasts a number of paintings and sculptures, mainly depicting Northern industrialists with a connection to the institute. As well as the library Neville Hall also has an Edwardian Lecture Theatre, modeled on the Royal Institution in London and constructed in deep red Cuban Mahogany.

In 2019 Neville Hall underwent a two-year refurbishment. Now known as the Common Rooms, the building is available for wedding and event hire as well as hosting education events and engagements. It is not currently open to the general public.

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November 8, 2023

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