A family of bookworms are we so a trip to Seven Stories was a Newcastle must. Part bookshop, part archive of children’s books and manuscripts with performances, exhibitions and story-telling sessions thrown in for good measure this sounded right up our street.
Love at first sight for me. The neighbourhood is urban, quirky and vibrant, definitely regeneration at its best. Seven Stories is in a gorgeous old Victorian (7 storey) warehouse. We arrived just as a story telling session was starting. Son was super keen on that idea – an avid reader he is still not averse to curling up on a cushion and being read to. The room was bright and colourful, full of huge cushions and great views over the Ouseburn River. The storyteller was fun and lively, we sat through the Gruffalo and several other old favourites before dragging Son away. Just goes to show you’re never too old for the best stories…
As well as being linked to the building, the name of the centre also refers to the received wisdom there are only seven basic stories in the world, all stories are a version of one of them. How fascinating is that! They have 30,000 books, artworks (including original illustrations from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Gruffalo) and go all out to involve children in books and words. We strolled through the exhibitions – so much to read and look at for adults and older kids with plenty to keep younger siblings involved. There were activity trails, lots of tables with book related tasks to complete and interactive stuff aplenty to keep children engrossed.
I loved the attic. There had been a performance there earlier in the day which we missed, but it didn’t matter, we spent a fair while in this wonderful room. Son emerged from the (extensive) dressing-up area as a wolf, then found a spot to sit and read (another) book.
There were craft activities going on in the basement, we skipped that and spent around an hour in the wonderful bookshop before reluctantly leaving at closing time. Seven Stories is great – it does just what it says on the tin.
On our way back we had a quick peek at Ouseburn Farm just next door. Apparently one of the UK’s first city farms it opened in 1976 but closed in 2002 when the soil was discovered to be contaminated with lead. The culprit was the paint factory which once stood here. After a clean-up the farm reopened in 2009. Check out the goats on their way in for the night! Not a sight you see too often in the middle of a major city.