Saturday 1st July 2017
Today, I visited the North England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering (NEIMME). This museum was an inconspicuous building located in Newcastle. Not obvious to the eye. We were greeted outside by Simon Brookes, who led us through and into the Wood Hall Memorial room. This room was very beautiful. When stepping through, I noted the stunning stained-glass window which was mirrored on the front and back of the room. On the left and right were, what appeared to be, cupboards, which opened to reveal bookshelves which held information on mining and mechanics. Built up to another floor was curved stairs, which led to even more bookshelves.
My initial thoughts of this room were that it was beautifully made, clearly taking care and good craftsmen ship to carve the beautiful patterns into the wood. However, the stained-glass window was what caught my eye, as it was decorated with imagery which added character and colour to the room.
The Buildings Heritage
I feel it important that we begin in this report with what we ended with in the meeting with Simon Brookes. The history of the building of which we stood in. This will make it clear just why this building is so important to the heritage of mining.
The reason the building was built was due to an accident which happened in 1852, in which a young boy named Charles Holiday was unfortunately killed. Deaths were common within mining, due to the dangers of the work, yet this incident caused uproar. You may ask why this was such an outrageous event, as in those days, it was common for boys to be in the mine. The young boy, Charles, had claimed to be 10 years old, as this was the legal requirement during the time. However, examining his birth certificate showed his age to be 6 years old. At such a young age, it caused 40 mining engineers (which was not a common occurrence) to have a meeting to discuss what was to be done regarding the safety procedures of the mines. These engineers included men such as Nicholas Wood, John Buddle and other famous faces. After a private meeting, they decide to create a society dedicated to the improvements of mines.
In 1865, Nicholas Wood unfortunately died and the NEIMME was built as a memorial to his name, which offered what Nicholas stood for. Education. From this, the Wood Hall Memorial was built, containing shelves upon shelves of books on mining.
The designs which were seen on the walls included a wolf with 3 golden circles which represents the coat of arms of Nicholas Wood. And the three gold coins on a coat of arms represents wisdom and generosity. This could be seen on his statue, on the door into the mining archives and on the stained-glass windows which lined both the front and back of the hall. On these windows were other images which represented different qualities of the society. There was a red pane which sat next to Nicholas Woods coat of arms, branding his initials NW. Next, which mirrored each other on either side was presumably a parrot, which was known to be within the Coat of Arms of the Earl of London, however this isn’t confirmed to be the purpose of the design. The last panes held miner’s lamps which was the common symbol of the organisation and could be seen on the glass windows of the front doors.
The actual building was fascinating to learn about, however, I feel like the information which was provided by Simon Brookes was either irrelevant or information which had already been provided from another visit. Due to this, I found myself disengaged with the information he was providing, noting down repetitious facts that I was already made aware of.
Furthermore, the information didn’t feel like it connected with younger people. It was provided in a very generic and quiet voice, and those who may find it difficult to engage in their heritage would not have been drawn to this presentation of the information. I feel like this is a shame as there is a lot recorded within the NEIMME, however it clearly isn’t being provided proactively with the public.
Overall, I didn’t feel overly inspired by the museum, and I hope that the engagement of younger people becomes a higher focus.