North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMME) is a British institution[clarification needed] dedicated to the research and preservation of knowledge relating to mining and mechanical engineering. Founded in 1852, the Institute possesses the largest library of its kind[ambiguous] in the world,[1] named the Nicholas Wood Memorial Library after its founding member, housing over twenty thousand volumes – primarily technical literature[2] in the fields of mining, geology, mechanical engineering, government blue books, mineralogy, mineral chemistry, mining statistics, mining law, seismology and other related topics.



The heritage of the Institute first stems from William Turner, a Reverend of the Hanover Square Chapel, situated just behind the present position of Newcastle's Central Station. Here, he began Newcastle's first Sunday School, 'a focus of light and yearning' for the town.[3] One of his more famous students was John Buddle, upon whom contributed immensely to placing the Institute in its current position. John Buddle was an active and wealthy member of the land owning class of Newcastle-upon- Tyne, and became a prominent member within local societies such as the Literary and Philosophical Society and the Natural History Society, the former of which provided a vital role in founding the Institute. Within time, John Buddle would prove to contribute a resounding influence with the Durham and Northumberland Coalfield, even earning himself the title of 'John Buddle, King of the Coal Trade'. In 1816, Budlde devised a system of diverting an underground ventilating current which is still in use today, however, he did not live to see the full impact of his legacy, as he died in 1843, nine years before the founding of the North of England Institution.[4] His papers and 'place books' were later deposited at the Institute, and they still remain there today.

Following an explosion at Felling in 1812, the Sunderland Society was set up with the purpose of increasing the safety of gas usage within mines.[5] This committee secured the services of Sir Humphry Davy, the inventor of the safety Lamp, in 1815,[6] however, despite these changes, explosions continued to occur, culminating in a devastating explosion at St Hilda Colliery, in which 52 persons were killed. The South Shields Committee recommended the introduction of Government inspections of mines, and the thorough education of mechanical engineers, leading to the first Government Inspection Act of 1850.[7] In just a few years, however, a Coroners court was held at the Mill Inn, Seaham, in 1852, where it was suggested that it would be of great advantage to form a society to consider the prevention of accidents in coalmines.

At a meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society on 3 July 1852, it was proposed to form a society to meet at fixed periods and discuss the ventilation of coalmines, the prevention of accidents and purposes connected with the general working of the coalmines. They proposed the society be called "The North of England Society for the Prevention of Accidents and for other purposes connected with mining.", and that Nicholas Wood would be the chairman.[8] It was agreed that a committee be appointed to draw up rules for the regulation of the society, which were accepted, and the inaugural meeting was held on 3 September 1852, at which Mr Nicholas Wood delivered the inaugural address at the lecture theatre of the Literary and Philosophical Society. It was determined the Object of the Institution was "to endeavour if possible, to devise measures which may alert or alleviate those dreadful calamities, which have so frequently produced such destruction of life and property" and, secondly, "to establish a literary institution, more particularly applicable to the theory, art and practise of Mining".[9]

Nicholas Wood held the office of President from the inauguration of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in 1852 until his death on 19 December 1865, at the age of 70, however, in 1858 he suggested he should not be automatically re-elected. Earlier in his life, Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson, a contemporary of Nicholas Wood, became a pupil of his, and went on to provide numerous railway contributions.[10] Robert died in October 1859 and a sum of £2000 was left to the Mining Institute, which formed the basis of a fund for the building of a permanent home for the Institution.[11]


The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers was built amongst the richest buildings of the era, within Grainger's new town, having been built on the site of the medical school on land traditionally held by the Dukes of Westmoreland,the Nevilles. The library hall was commissioned and built in 1872 to the design of Archibald M Dunn, whose Father had been present at the inaugural meeting of the Institute. The library was built at the height of the English Gothic Revival, and has come to represent the era with high windows and a sky lit barrel vaulted ceiling, showing a mixture of gothic and Tyneside Classical themes. Within the building, there is a monumental statue of Nicholas Wood presiding over the library, mounted on the top of a throne in the setting of an iconstasis. There are other works of art within the room, such as marble busts of John Buddle and Thomas Foster, the Institute's second President.[12]

Notable Members


  1. ^ p.2
  2. ^ The Mining Institute Renaissance- Anniversary Celebrations 1852–2002. Authors: R.Blance, H. Burn, J. Ceiriog- Hughes, A.Doyle, N.Jackson, D.J Mallett, J.S. Porthouse, R. Sanderson, and G.W. Taylor
  3. ^ The Mining Engineer- Journal of The Institution of Mining Engineers- Vol.146, P. 252, 'A History of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers'
  4. ^ John Buddle (1773–1843): agent and entrepreneur on the North-East coal trade
  5. ^ The first report of a society for preventing accidents in coal mines comprising a letter to Sir Ralph Milbanke, Bart. Author: Buddle, John Milbanke, Ralph (Sir) Society for Preventing accidents in Coal Mines. (Sunderland) Newcastle upon Tyne : Printed by Edward Walker, 1814. NEIMME In: Tracts, vol. 35, p. 15-62; vol. 53, p. 93-140; vol.60, p.1-48; vol. 94 p. 61-108; Bell collection, vol. 4, p. 71-107. With list of members.
  6. ^ Our Coal and Our Coal-Pits; the people in them and the scenes around them. Author: Leifchild, J. R. A traveller underground. Notes: Reprint of 1856 second edition
  7. ^ Government inspection of mines: report of the proceedings at a public meeting in South Shields, called by the magistrates, 7 June 1850. Author: North and South Shields Gazette. P. 94-118. In: NEIMME Tracts, vol. 45, p. 95-118. Extracts from the North and South Shields Gazette
  8. ^ Transactions of the Institute- Meeting of Colliery Owners, Viewers. Author: WM. Anderson, Chairman. P. 1- 2.Located at the NEIMME
  9. ^ Transactions of the Institute- Inaugural Address. Author: Nicholas Wood. P. 11-32. Located at the NEIMME
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Mining Engineer- Journal of The Institution of Mining Engineers- Vol.146 P. 253, 'A History of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers'
  12. ^ The Mining Institute Renaissance- Anniversary Celebrations 1852–2002. Authors: R.Blance, H. Burn, J. Ceiriog- Hughes, A.Doyle, N.Jackson, D.J Mallett, J.S. Porthouse, R. Sanderson, and G.W. Taylor

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