Grand Re-Opening of Seven Stories - National Centre for Children's Books


Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books welcomes visitors back.

Welcome back.  After being closed for three months our doors swing open on 19th July 2015 to reveal an astonishing array of exhibitions and activities in a fully refurbished visitor centre.  For the first time since we opened in 2005, we’ve curated and created three exhibitions simultaneously … with Painting with Rainbows – A Michael Foreman Exhibition, Rhyme Around the World - specially designed for younger visitors and A Bear Called Paddington …  plus a magical Harry Potter installation in the Attic … there is something to delight and inspire everyone.

Seven Stories has been open every day for 10 years, delighting over 700,000 visitors since our unique North East venue opened its doors in 2005. During the past three months Seven Stories has undergone an exciting refurbishment, with a £750k scheme investing in the fabric of the building to make it even more magical and enjoyable for visitors, improving how the building works for visitors and making it more energy efficient. The scheme was made possible by generous support from Arts Council England and a number of trusts and foundations. It is scheduled to coincide with Seven Stories’ 10th birthday celebrations, which culminate on the anniversary of our opening date on Wednesday 19 August.

Kate Edwards, Chief Executive says:  "We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the many people who have made our refurbishment possible. When we opened 10 years ago we didn't imagine the impact that we would have on children and families in the North East and beyond. We've been touched by the kind wishes of our visitors, the gifts, donations and grants from our supporters, and the expertise of the professionals we've worked with to make it happen.  The investment we've been able to make will help us continue to be the UK's leading museum for children's literature, celebrating this wonderful art that we all can own, and making sure that our young people have the best start in life by enjoying books and stories."

The revamped seven storey building will continue to celebrate how books are made, where ideas come from and how we can enjoy and share them.  Seven Stories is a great day out for the whole family.

Painting with Rainbows– A Michael Foreman Exhibition (Level 4)

Michael Foreman is one of Britain’s best-known and internationally acclaimed creators of books for children.  A multi award winning author, he has been illustrating for children for over 50 years. With original artwork on show alongside playful props and costumes, Seven Stories’ exhibition explores Michael’s storytelling, and imagines a world without conflict, that cares for our environment and celebrates the importance of friendship.

Families are invited to add to the ‘Tree of Hope’ with messages for the future, explore stories of war and peace through War Boy, War Game, The General and Ali Pasha. A multi-sensory environment inspired by Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish and One World encourages building and play, Michael’s creative process is revealed in his artist’s studio and by his own personal artefacts.

Supported by Andersen Press, Templar Publishing and Pavilion Books. With thanks to the Allan & Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust and the Ernest Cook Trust. Exhibition designed by Sheridan Design.

Rhyme Around the World – A Nursery Rhyme Exhibition (Level 5)

This multi-sensory exhibition is lively and colourful and specially designed for younger visitors and their grown-ups. Families will step straight into their favourite nursery rhymes, discovering new ones from around the world and learning how stories, song and rhyme play a vital part in early childhood language development.  With sensory opportunities and beautiful and varied work by international illustrators, there’s something here for all the family.

This is a chance to see original art work commissioned by Seven Stories for Over the Hills and Far Away -  A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes From Around the World collected by Elizabeth Hammill, initiator and co-founder of Seven Stories,  (Published in 2014 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) and the rare opportunity to view Harold Jones’ art from the classic Lavender’s Blue published in 1954.

Supported by Frances Lincoln Children’s Book, part of the Quarto Publishing Group UK and the Siobhan Dowd Trust. Exhibition designed by 24 Design.


A Bear Called Paddington (Level 6)

Grab your duffle coat and your marmalade sandwiches and discover how Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear has been brought to life by illustrators and animators over the decades. Packed with original manuscripts and illustrations, including rare work by Peggy Fortnum, this exhibition explores the adventures of everyone’s favourite friendly bear from Darkest Peru

This exhibition has been curated in partnership with the House of Illustration.

Illustration © R.W.Alley


Visitors can also enjoy new areas of discovery at Seven Stories:

The Studio and Word lab on Level 1

The Studio is the perfect place for children and grownups of all ages to discover draw, paint, write, make, doodle and build. Inspired by the work of children’s authors and illustrators, everyone has the chance to make a masterpiece they can take home.

This summer the Studio opens with The Pirate Cruncher and Seven Stories are delighted that Jonny Duddle will launch the new artist residency programme, by paying a special visit on Wednesday  19 August to add to the 10th Birthday celebrations.

Land Ahoy Sketch © Jonny Duddle 2009 ‘The Pirate Cruncher’

Story Station Level 4

Under 4s can enjoy creative, sensory play in the Story Station. Step inside and be whisked away to a world of stories together. Explore seven of your favourite books, with the help of sensory boxes full of texture, sound and colour. Curl up and share a story together in our Snug or experience a new book through multi-sensory play.

This is the perfect area to enjoy play with your little one and you will want to return again and again.

The Attic on Level 7

Last but not least, the Attic is a place where stories come to life.  Step into the shoes of your favourite character and meet the authors and illustrators who make the books we love.

For the grand re-opening Seven Stories has a world exclusive. To celebrate Jim Kay’s stunning full-colour illustrations for J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first in the series to be published in September 2015, by Bloomsbury, the attic will be transformed into the streets of Diagon Alley.

Supported by Bloomsbury.

Illustration © Jim Kay

“We hope that our visitors will be amazed by Seven Stories’ new look” Kate adds, “and that there will be so much to see that they will come back again and again”.



For images and enquiries please contact:

Nicky Potter, E:

T: 02088899735 M: 07715587948

Kathryn Row, Programming and Marketing Manager, Seven Stories


T: 0845 271 0777 ext 217  M: 07786936884


Notes to Editors 


Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Seven Stories is The National Centre for Children’s Books – the only place in Britain dedicated to saving, celebrating and sharing our rich literary heritage for children.

Seven Stories’ home is a carefully converted listed warehouse in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. The centre opened in 2005 and visitors can explore seven floors of galleries, creative spaces, a specialist children’s bookshop and a café. Everything Seven Stories does uses children’s books to inspire children and grown-ups to be curious, imaginative and creative.  It strives to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy a lifetime of reading for pleasure through inventive and immersive exhibitions and lively events and learning programmes.

  • Seven Stories has built a comprehensive children’s literature archive from the 1930s to the present day.  It collects all that goes into the making of a book – first scribbles, dummy books, roughs, final artwork, letters and correspondence, drafts and finished manuscript. The work of over 200 British authors and illustrators, including Judith Kerr, Enid Blyton, Philip Pullman and David Almond is cared for in our Collection – and it is still growing.
  • Over 80,000 people visit us every year, including 12,000 visits from school children.  In addition, Seven Stories works with children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds through outreach and participation work. In 2013/14 over 18,000 children and carers took part in activities to build book and story sharing confidence and enjoyment. Since 2005 over 650,000 people have visited Seven Stories.
  • Seven Stories is becoming known across the UK through its ambitious touring exhibition programme. More than 1.3 million people have enjoyed a Seven Stories exhibition on tour.
  • Seven Stories is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio and is an accredited museum with National status, recognising the national and international significance of its collections and the quality of the work in sharing these treasures through its exhibitions and its public and learning programmes.

Seven Stories has been recognised for its abilities and achievements -

  • Won the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award in 2010 in recognition of its outstanding contribution to children’s literature
  • National status was awarded by Arts Council England in 2012 in recognition of the significance of the Collection and the excellent way Seven Stories engages with its audiences.
  • Won a National Lottery Award in September 2013 after being voted the UK’s favourite education project.

Seven Stories is a charity, all the money earned and raised is used to safeguard the magic of children’s books for future generations to enjoy.

Refurbishment Partners

Seven Stories was awarded £499,000 by Arts Council England alongside a further £250k raised, thanks to the generous support of the Foyle Foundation, Gillian Dickinson Charitable Trust, Idlewild Trust, Hadrian Trust, Ballinger Charitable Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, The Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, the Bernard Sunley Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Equitable Charitable Trust and the James Patterson Independent Bookshop Awards, alongside many individual friends and supporters. Seven Stories 10th Birthday Appeal continues to raise funds to support the refurbishment.

Six companies worked with Seven Stories to refurbish the Grade II listed building: ADP was the architect, Turner and Townsend provided project management and costing services, Northern Bear was the main contractor, Michael Grubb Lighting designed the lighting and Kyoob was responsible for mechanical and engineering management. Ben John supplied the furniture and West End joinery made the bespoke carpentry items.

We have worked with talented artists to bring the building to life. Sarah J Coleman has created striking designs in the Café and reception area. Ali Rind has created vibrant new cushions and chair for reception. Textlies by Gnomes has created all new costumes for the exhibitions and a specially commissioned  armchair for the Picture Book are on Level 3.


ADP was founded in 1965 and has grown to become one of the most respected and stable practices in the United Kingdom.  The practice is currently ranked 18th in the Architect’s Journal AJ100 Annual Survey of UK practices, and is certified to both ISO14001 environmental, and ISO9001 quality, standards. We have also held Investors in People accreditation since 2000.

 From our original office in Henley, servicing clients in the Thames Valley area, ADP has grown to international standing and now has studios in Birmingham, Delhi NCR, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Oxford and Sherborne.  Their combined resources of over 100 staff operating from 8 regional studios, 7 in the UK and 1 in India (ADP Building Consultancy Pvt Ltd.) gives an international perspective and a proven capacity to handle a wide-ranging and diverse project portfolio.  This is combined with the flexibility to serve clients from friendly, local studios.

Turner and Townsend

Turner & Townsend is an independent professional services company specialising in programme management, project management, cost management and consulting across the property, infrastructure and natural resources sectors.

With 87 offices in 36 countries, they draw on extensive global and industry experience to manage risk while maximising value and performance during the construction and operation of their clients’ assets.

Northern Bear

“Improving standards in construction by working with people who care.”

Northern Bear’s vision is to achieve excellence through specialist support services by performing to the highest level of professionalism for all of their customers.

Northern Bear continue to commit to raising standards of service and safety in order to achieve maximum value by working in partnership with all of their clients and suppliers whilst avoiding waste and damage to the environment.

They aim to continue to provide market leading specialist building and support services across the North of England and beyond.

Michael Grub Lighting

Michael Grubb Studio is an award winning independent practice that takes architectural lighting design in a new direction defined by engagement with the client, the space and the brand. The practice offers consultancy, strategy, design and creative services in all areas of lighting design including; Masterplanning, Public Realm, Retail & Leisure, Exterior, Interior, Exhibition, Heritage, Light-Art and Events.


Based in North Tyneside but operating throughout the region, kyoob provides comprehensive building engineering consultancy services, assisting you from the earliest stages of a project through to its completion and handover.

Ben Johnson Ltd

Ben Johnson Ltd supplies workplace solution throughout Yorkshire and the North East.


Capital funders:                                                                                    

The John S Cohen Foundation                                 Gillian Dickinson Charitable Trust

The Equitable Charitable Trust                                Foyle Foundation                                                        

Hadrian Trust                                                           Idlewild Trust                                                

Sir James Knott Trust                                              James Patterson Bookshop Awards     

Trusthouse Charitable Foundation                          Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation

Garfield Weston Foundation                                   Walker Books