In September of 2015, the Council of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers agreed to turn down an offer to purchase its building and to adopt a Development Strategy that could be a ‘last chance’ to retain the integrity of the original building and allow the Institute’s own programme and collection to remain there. It was able to do this because of a Transitional Funding Award from the Heritage Lottery Fund and additional support from the Reece Foundation.
As a starting point, NEIMME Council embraced a new Vision for the future and issued a challenge that it proceeded to address with energy.
The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers – founded to address the safe and effective exploitation of the natural resources of the North East – will create as a legacy a new Institute dedicated to exploring the future of that Region, its people and the distinctive contribution it could make to the global as well as regional consequences of the Industrial Revolution that began – and ended – here.
If a future for the building could be found that:
• Delivered a range of public benefits to the North East in line with the Vision
• Indicated – believably – that capital funds could be raised to restore and adapt the fabric of the building and conserve the collection
• Demonstrated that a sustainable business model could be found to operate the building and deliver the public benefits
• Guaranteed support for NEIMME’s own programme in perpetuity…
Then NEIMME was prepared – in principle – to transfer its assets of property, collection and staff to a new charitable entity charged with stewardship of those assets and the delivery of a programme of public benefits.
The strategy hinged and was dependent on the success of a sequence of further applications to be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide a newly renovated building, reorganised collection, new governance structure and a programme of activities. These would – in turn – deliver the substantial ‘benefit to heritage and to the people and communities of the North East’ needed to justify a very substantial award from the HLF, nationally.
Key to success would be the submission of a compelling case and high quality applications in what is acknowledged to be a highly competitive environment. Our Phase One Heritage Grant “Development” application was submitted on the 4th of August 2016 and news is available here.
Following the successful Phase One HLF application in October 2017, NEIMME held a Special General Meeting which unanimously approved a resolution to transfer the assets of building, collection and staff to the new entity (The Common Room) provided there is a suitable outcome to the HLF round 2 application and the terms laid down by NEIMME are met. The round 2 application has now been submitted and we are awaiting a decision in the summer.