North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers is often abbreviated to “the Mining Institute”.

The Mining Institute owns one of the finest buildings in Newcastle, Neville Hall, a Victorian building built at the time when high-Gothic architecture was coming into fashion. The outside of the building is known to hundreds of thousands of people, it is next to the Central Station, but few people realise what is inside. Neville Hall houses the memorial to the Institute's first President, Nicholas Wood, an outstanding Victorian Library resplendent filled with superb stonework, redolent with exquisite carved stone, wood and paintings with a beautifully decorated ceiling, a vast glass roof and filled with furniture designed for the library in 1872. Below the Library is the Edwardian Lecture Theatre, modeled on the Royal Institution in London and constructed in deep red Cuban Mahogany.

What lies within the walls is centuries of history relating to the Great North Coalfield, full of tales of engineering excellence, man's efforts to wreak resources from the earth's crust and the perils that brought. The Library is of importance globally, the finest and largest coal mining library in the world and perhaps the best place to study the early Industrial Revolution which began with the use of coal as a fuel in the Great Northern Coalfield over 600 years ago.


Both the building and its collections are open to you, the public. Not only can you use the Library for study, but you can hire rooms here, see free events, enjoy entertainment and you can even get married here!

We welcome individuals and groups and can provide free group tours and talks on a variety of subjects. We welcome school visits and can tailor visits to meet the needs of the curriculum and provide learning resources.

The Mining Institute is an organisation dedicated to the professions of mining engineering, mechanical engineering, mining electrical engineering and related professions. It is the world’s oldest professional mining organisation and was dedicated to training engineers to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding coal mining industry at home in the UK and abroad. The Institute has always aimed at making mining a safer occupation and in its early years it undertook many experiments and its Members investigated accidents aimed at understanding the causes of mining disasters and ensuring measures were put in hand to prevent further disasters. This scientific analysis of accidents is common today, but was ground breaking at the time. The Institute pushed for legislation to improve mine safety and a great deal of work was done to bring in competent laws and regulations with men trained to meet the demands of safer mining practices.

The Institute amassed a vast collection of notebooks, letters, maps, plans, drawings and later books and reports over 150 years related to every conceivable aspect of mining and the movement of coal to market. Its Members fanned out across the world to develop new coalfields and other types of ore and developed railways to carry the bulky products to market. As a consequence, the Institute has a vast collection that covers iron ore, gold and silver mines, indeed almost every type of metaliferous mining, in places all around the world. It also has a large collection about early and later railway developments which has been grown by adding collections from partner organisations. The early mining engineers were also great geologists, indeed, mining engineers and surveyors founded the science of geology and contributed to its understanding and development. The Institute has a vast collection of geology related maps books and reports.

The Institute's resources and collections cover maps, plans, photographs as well as books, reports, notebooks, letterbooks and so on.

Most importantly, its early members and their predecessors collected information from the rest of the industrialising areas of Europe, this includes detailed records of costs and the processes and methods used in mining. As well as a fascinating records of mining life and technology, the accounting practises were adopted to enable forecasts of competitiveness and efficiency. The collections now comprise perhaps the finest archive in the world in which to study the early industrial revolution. Together with its own collection of tracts and transactions, in which the reports of its members were published, the Mining Institute became a globally important organisation with members spread across the world and its publications sent around the globe.

The Institute was given its marvellous library and lecture theatre to commemorate the contribution made by Nicholas Wood. It provides an outstanding setting for its public events and private study. The rooms it occupies are amongst Newcastle’s finest architectural treasures. The Institute has a growing reputation as a friendly and welcoming place to study. We encourage visits from everyone to learn about the history of mining and we accommodate school visits, students, academic researchers and the general public wishing to learn more or carry out genealogical research.

The Institute still encourages the study of mining and involves both practising mining engineers and laymen amongst its members. Many of our members are experts in their field and we encourage people to work together and learn from each other. As an increasingly active Institute it is once again growing with more members joining every year.

Over three quarters of a million people make use of the Institute’s collections which are available to the visiting public and via the world-wide web.

It hosts talks on mining related subjects which are free for the public. Many other organisations also meet here with many talks and lectures free to attend. Dozens of events are held in the spectacular rooms and many private organisations also meet here in comfort.