National Centre for Children’s Books

Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books has a collection of original manuscripts and artwork from the 1930s to the present day. Its unique Collection represents the work of more than 200 authors and illustrators including Judith Kerr (creator of The Tiger who Came to Tea), Enid Blyton and Philip Pullman.

The centre is housed within a Grade II listed warehouse that we originally converted in 2005. A decade and 700,000 visitors later, we were invited back to refurbish the building to cater for growing visitor numbers.

The seven-storeyed Victorian warehouse was semi-derelict and in need of substantial renovation. Located alongside the river Ouseburn in an area of cultural regeneration, the conversion of the building brought new life to this impressive listed structure. We kept the mill’s heritage value intact by retaining all of the original features and volumes, and housing new accommodation including the reception area, main circulation and storage in a contemporary extension.

The entrance is bright and light, illuminated by flying books suspended from the ceiling, gobos and a friendly up-cycled reception desk that is fronted by artist Sarah Jane Coleman’s text design exploring the “seven stories”. The ground floor also houses the taster gallery, cafe and bookshop.

Signage is designed with a font to appeal to both adults and children. The main staircase, which from the street outside resembles a piece of torn paper formed into a cylinder, is a major part of the Seven Stories experience, encouraging visitors to explore the building. Orientation from the staircase to the galleries is helped by large illuminated numbers that announce the levels of each floor.

Flexible learning spaces overlook the Ouseburn River, and in the museum’s maker space “The Studio” aspiring young authors and illustrators can practice different techniques. The Word Lab is a flexible space which doubles up as an education area for school groups. Seven Stories’ two galleries have been designed to protect original artwork and manuscripts.

The popular Story Station is a dedicated area for the under-4s book play, while the Gillian Dickinson space on level six is an education, meeting and training facility, available for hire – increasing the financial resilience of the scheme.

In the Attic, performances and story times are made magical through theatrical lighting, a Gobo projector and colourful, soft, flexible seating.

The project has won multiple awards and in 2012, Seven Stories was formally granted National status by Arts Council England, in recognition of the national significance of its work.



Seven Stories


Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle




New Build