One of the North East’s oldest institutions is looking for volunteers to help capture the region’s engineering heritage.

The Common Room, which has taken over the Mining Institute in Newcastle, is leading a £7.1 million transformation of Neville Hall, a building which will celebrate the region’s engineering heritage and which will provide a range of public spaces for events, workshops, lectures and training.

The team behind the redevelopment is now recruiting volunteers to support the travelling exhibition which is appearing at venues across the region, telling the story of how engineers and innovators from the North East changed the world.

Liz Mayes, Chief Executive of The Common Room, explained: “While the building is closed for redevelopment, we’re running a series of events including this pop-up exhibition. We want to share the stories of great ideas that came from the North East, from improvements to mine safety that saved countless lives, through to world firsts like the passenger railway and the Tees Transporter Bridge – the longest working transporter bridge in the world.

“We’re now looking for volunteers to be the face of the exhibition and to help capture people’s stories of innovation and industry in the North East.”

The Graft and Glory exhibition will be appearing at venues which have links to the North East’s industrial heritage including Tanfield Railway Museum in Durham and Redhills Durham Miners’ Association, as well as locations which have a role to play in the current and future industry of the North East. These include the Reece Group – a group of engineering businesses located in the Armstrong Works site on Scotswood Road – and the Materials Processing Institute, Middlesbrough, which works with the global steel and materials industries to carry out research and innovation in advanced materials, low carbon energy and the circular economy.

Liz Mayes said: “As well as recruiting volunteers to talk to members of the public about the exhibition, we’d also like to equip a team of volunteers with the skills to record people’s stories and memories about life during periods of industrial change – people who have worked as engineers and innovators, and people whose communities have been affected by the mining industry.”

“Anyone with a passion for the North East and its vital place in world history should get in touch to find out more about the volunteer roles available.”

In November 2018 The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £600,000 to The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers to undertake an extensive development phase. In July 2018, The Common Room of the Great North was awarded £4.1m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to revitalise the Grade II listed Mining Institute, transforming it into The Common Room.

To find out more about volunteering opportunities email emily.tench@northeastcommonroom.org.uk.