Moving this vision from an ‘on the road’ exhibition and event programme, through the dark days of the first lockdown and the risk that we would never realise this dream, to now – 2021 – seeing us reopen to the public and inspire innovation, oppor- tunity and collaboration, has been an incredible challenge. We have wanted to deliver this for so long, all for The Common Good.

Our heritage is an important asset to the region and indeed the UK, but its real potential has yet to be unleashed.

This publication aims to raise awareness and support for our mission. We are immensely grateful to those who took time to contribute to this book. This wonderful group of individuals authentically represent The Common Room and all we stand for.

In the following pages you will meet individuals who have personal links to a heritage that is so significant to the story of our nation – the story of graft and glory. You’ll hear from those who have provided us with funding to deliver our mission and about the inspiration behind it.

We’re delighted to have contributions from outside the North East, advocates who have supported and informed our plans and efforts. People who have galvanised us to learn more about the role of women in our industrial heritage and how we can continue this legacy, as well as shone a light on the diverse communities whose incredible contributions are, as yet, for the most part untold.

We also focus on our assets – the Grade II* building we have proudly brought back to its former glory despite all the challenges of turning this into a fit for purpose modern venue. It’s a pleasure to share more about our library and collection, which is an untapped but vital resource becoming accessible to all.

We hope this book inspires you to become involved, because we need your commitment and enthusiasm to help us become sustainable and relevant to the communities we serve. The doors are open to you, your colleagues, your families and friends and we would love for you to join in.

We seek your support for the benefit of our heritage, but equally important we seek it to re-ignite the potential of communities and for the young people who have not been able to access cultural, science and economic opportu- nities and who stand to be the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need your support so we can use our unique heritage to inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers.

Our charitable mission will support the region to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic. Our continued commitment and focus on supporting young people to realise the opportunities available to them in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) industries is more important now than ever given the uncertainty facing our economy. At the same time, the importance of STEM in addressing the pandemic directly – the role of researching vaccines, manufacturing ventilators and PPE – has raised the profile and value of these industries to society.

We have a strong focus on diversity and inclusion within our programming to broaden the appeal of STEM subjects amongst under-represented groups. We want The Common Room to make a step change in how these groups understand and access opportunities in the sector.

Our plans have been informed in consultation with our main Board and our Youth Board, a dynamic group of people recruited to influence the strategic direction of our operations and drawn from sectors including business, heritage, engineering, arts and education. We can’t work in isolation and now we need your input.

Our project will support jobs and growth in line with the Government’s levelling up agenda. The Grade II* listed building itself has seen significant investment and our collection management and digitisation has seen an upgrade because of our work. We are beyond proud of what we’ve achieved so far and this is just the beginning.

But you don’t have to just take my word for it. Read on to discover the significant impact this project has already had on the region and beyond and about the furthur potential it holds. We would love you to be a part of this.

Your support will enable us to see our vision put into action to support the North East, for The Common Good.


Liz Mayes joined NEIMME as Development Director in September 2017, to lead the £7.1m National Lottery Heritage Fund bid for The Common Room project, and ultimately lead the restoration works. She moved over to become Chief Executive of The Common Room in March 2019 upon successful award of the bid and upon the transfer of assets of the building, Neville Hall and collection.

Prior to this Liz was North East Regional Director of national manufacturing trade body EEF (now Make UK) for 3 years and Acting North East Regional Director of business lobby group CBI where she worked from 2002-2014.

Liz is also a Trustee of The International Centre for Life.

Originally from Lincoln, Liz moved to the North East to study Economics at Durham University in 1997. She now lives in North Shields with her family.

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