Photo of girls constructing with lego technic

Family Events

Following on from the success of the Mining Institute's involvement with the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 (remember the Lego!), The Common Room is engaging families with hands-on events and activities, unleashing creativity and sparking innovation. This year sees the reopening of our newly refurbished Grade II* listed building in which we are delivering a programme of family activities throughout 2021. Find out more about our Opening Festival events by visiting our What's On Page.

Painting of gentleman wearing a brown suit, sitting in a wooden chair and holding a paper

Our Places

'Our Places' are courses which use The Common Room’s collection to explore the industrial heritage of the local area. Led by Dr Dorothy Hamilton, who runs local history courses for adults, each course culminates in creating a banner to showcase the group’s research.

We have run three courses so far: one exploring Darlington's engineering past, another at Sacriston, researching Colonel William Cuthbert Blackett and lastly one exploring Northumberland’s Coal Mining History – the miners and their families.

Public Lectures

The Common Room provides a platform for discussion, debate and influence. Speakers at our events represent a diverse cross-section of the community and industry, bringing a wealth of knowledge on a broad range of topics from waggonways to women in engineering and from social mobility to the fourth industrial revolution.

"Oral History is a crucial tool for understanding lived experiences of the North East. The interaction between events, historical change and individual memory is necessary for capturing the area’s past and promoting opportunities for its future."

Dr Andy Clark Research Associate in Oral History, Newcastle University

"Loved doing my oral history interview today. We talked about my passion for engineering and innovation and what my role means to me. I think it’s so important to understand our heritage and industry especially in times when we’re allowing young kids to step forward and be our voice. The North East will become that vocal point for industry and it’s vital we have amazing groups like the Common Room to give us a central hub to explore, create, design, innovate, lead and inspire."

Stevie McLaughlin, Tharsus and Common Room Youth Board Member

"The Common Room is extremely important to the Royal Institution - it's a fantastic venue for Masterclasses, combining the classroom and theatre facilities we need to run the workshops with the unique opportunity for students to experience this important heritage organisation, linked as it is to the history of engineering"

Rachel Dorris, Royal Institution

Our Voices

We want to capture the voices of the region, to hear stories of innovation, mining and engineering. These stories will be included in a permanent exhibition within The Common Room building in Autumn 2021.

Old map showing Western Coal Districts from 1861

Explore Online

Our ‘explore online’ programme offers a range of exciting activities for all the family.

Whether you’re interested in our industrial heritage and want to find out more about engineers of the past, or you want to explore what lies beneath our feet or do our weekly challenges, there is something for everyone to enjoy remotely.