The Common Room - A Fun, Free Day Out in Newcastle

AD - This post has been published by our writer Bethanie who visited The Common Room in July 2022. Any shares / edits beyond this date have not been asked or paid for. 

Last week we headed into Newcastle for a fun filled morning at The Common Room, Newcastle. Never heard of The Common Room before? No, neither had we. But now we have been I will be recommending a visit here to anyone planning a day out in the city centre with kids. 

The Common Room - A Fun, Free Day Out in Newcastle

The Common Room is a gorgeous, unique building situated right next to Newcastle central station. It is a heritage venue and celebrates the regions engineering history through education and engaging events to inspire the next generation. 

We went to the Game Changers exhibition and events during the summer holidays, which is what I want to share with you in this blog post.

Throughout the school holidays, there are FREE workshops running for children aged 5+. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Fund UK, The Common Room have been able to run fun and engaging workshops during the school holidays. 

Extra dates have now also been added so make sure you book your place quickly to avoid disappointment. If you aren't able to make it this time, look out for another round of free events over October Half Term. 

(Even though the events are free, you still need to book your place. If you are unable to attend, it is kindly requested you let the venue know so they can offer the tickets to someone else.)  

Game Changers Exhibition 

The Game Changers exhibition shines light on some of the region’s most influential innovators. Spend some time looking around the exhibition (it isn’t very big however it is fascinating the role the North East has played in engineering as well as our mining history.)

There are also colouring activities for children to take part in. 

Running from 16th July through until 17th September (selected dates - check website for opening times) the exhibition celebrates the 170-year lifespan of the Mining Institute as well as looking to the future of innovation in the North East. 

For more information and to see available dates, head to The Common Room website:

As part of the exhibition, there are FREE STEM workshops running every Tuesday throughout the summer holidays as well as dates on Saturday 13th and 20th August and Saturday 3rd September. 

School of Rocks workshop 

After having a look around the building, the exhibition as well as the amazing Lego “Brick by Brick” model made from 30,000 pieces of Lego, we headed along to the School of Rocks workshop. 

This was split into three activities and we moved around in small groups from one activity to the other. We pretended to be Geologists and had a go at identifying different rocks and minerals.

My children (aged 5 and 9) particularly enjoyed weighing and measuring the different rocks to try and identify which ones they were. This activity was something a little different for them - we haven't done anything like this before and I do think it's unique to the North East. 

With the current 'crystals/gems' trend amongst children at the moment, these workshops are a brilliant way for kids to learn more about different rocks and minerals and they really capture their interest. 

These workshops are secretly educational too but the kids are having too much fun to realise that. They were a brilliant opportunity to develop skills & try new equipment. Who knows, they may just have sparked an interest in geology as a future career choice. 

At the end of the workshop, which lasted approximately 45 minutes, each child was awarded a certificate for geology skills – my two were very proud of theirs. 

These free workshops run at two different times on a Tuesday throughout the summer but do need to be pre-booked:

  • Morning workshop: 11:00am – 12:00pm
  • Afternoon workshop: 2:15pm – 3:15pm
At time of publishing, there are still limited free tickets available on 16 August. Do check their website for any cancellations though or if you're in the area, pop in and ask about returns. Find out more and book here. 

Do it the Safety Way Science and History show.

In the afternoon we attended the live “Do it the Safety Way” science and history show. This Live Science and History show explores the deadly dangers of the dark underground.

Delivered in an engaging and fun way, we learnt how to keep ourselves unpoisoned, unsuffocated and unexploded from the perils of the pit! There is a little audience participation and we all learned something too. I'd definitely recommend popping along. 

I was a bit worried my daughter would be too young, but she was on the edge of her seat and laughed along with everyone else.

Mining has a strong history in the North East and I really appreciated the opportunity of being able to keep the stories alive with events like this. 

The idea behind the workshops is that they are accessible for all, so while it is aimed at age 5+, younger siblings are welcome to also attend. 

At time of publishing, there are still free tickets available on 9, 16, 23 & 30 August plus 3 September. Find out more and book here. 

Visit the 5|Quarter Café and bar for a kid’s meal deal:

There is a café here also which offers a menu of hot and cold food. If you are booked into one of the workshops, they are offering a meal deal this summer where you can purchase a hot kids meal for just £3 with every adult meal.

The kids menu offers pizza, fish fingers or chicken goujons with chips and either peas or baked beans.
 Everything was yummy. 

A hot meal in between the workshops is a great way to make a day out of your visit to The Common Room. The setting is lovely and some of the tables even have special objects inside them which is an added point of interest / talking point.  

You can visit 5|Quarter Cafe and bar without attending a workshop too - ideal if you are looking for a good value meal or drinks with kids next to the train station. 

Five things we loved about The Common Room:

  • Its location is perfect as it is easily accessible by train, Metro or bus. Start your day out in Newcastle here, followed by lunch in the café before heading along to the Quayside or visiting other museums in the area such as Centre of Life and the Discovery Museum. 
  • The building is stunning. There is an impressive stain glass window which was recently renovated in 2020 thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage fund.   
  • It is free to visit with an onsite café. 
  • We received a warm welcome and the staff were engaging with the children and full of knowledge.
  • It was great fun sitting in the lecture theatre for the science and history show. An amazing space as well as an engaging show – the man delivering it was great with the kids and provided entertainment as well as being educational. 

Will you be adding The Common Room to your itinerary next time you are in Newcastle? 

Remember to visit the website to check availability on the workshops:

Looking to make a day of it? Why not combine a trip to The Common Room with Discovery Museum (also free), Life Science Centre, Newcastle Castle or take a Toon Tour Bus Tour. They're all within walking distance. Don't forget that kids aged 11 and under travel free by Metro when accompanying a fare paying adult too (alight at Central Station and turn left as you leave the main building for The Common Room). 


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