Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin

This seven-storey converted Victorian granary in Newcastle's regenerated Ouseburn area spotlights storytelling, the only place in Britain dedicated to the celebration of children's writers and illustrators. At its core is a unique collection of manuscripts and artwork stretching back 70 years. It includes work by Philip Pullman, Edward Ardizzone, Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake. This light-filled space has an eye-catching modern frontage and staircase tower and features exhibitions, interactive activities, performances and books galore. Write your own book, create your own character, see how JK Rowling drafted a chapter.

Something for children

Pretty much everything. Sound, interactive games, words on walls, texts and pictures. In the "Incredible Journeys" exhibition, they can dress up as a character, explore the meaning of words and learn how writers get their inspiration. On each of the seven levels, there's an activity table with a "challenge". The basement Engine Room has paper, pens, props and clothes so that children can create characters and stories. Story-telling, poetry-reading, performances or "meet-the-author" sessions are held at weekends in the wooden-beamed Artist's Attic.

Something for adults

See artwork from your favourite books - Ruth Gervis's sketches for Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes, Pauline Baynes's rich work for CS Lewis's Narnia books or Diana Stanley's for The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Original manuscripts give a fascinating glimpse into the writers' creative processes. Philip Pullman's neatly written scripts have few corrections while JK Rowling's are a mass of crossings out and margin doodles. When complete, the Story Lab will allow you to use the computers to browse the digitised collection. There's also a Reading Den with big windows and colourful cushions.


The Cool Cat Café is light and bright with a simple but healthy menu. Soup, freshly made rolls, toasted ciabattas, quiche and salads also come in children's portions and there's a children's platter, with cakes and scones to finish. Service can be slow.


The centre has one of the UK's largest children's bookshops with every specialism from pop-ups to teenage fiction. There is a small selection of toys plus pencil, rubber and fridge magnet pocket-money buys.

Admission and access

Open daily from 10am (11am on Sundays) to 5pm (6pm on Thursdays). Admission is £5 for adults, £4 for children or £15 for a family (two adults plus two children or one adult plus 3 children). It's fully accessible for wheelchair users, with disabled toilets and limited disabled parking plus a drop-off point. Some access to hearing loop and Braille facilities.

How to get there

Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2PQ (0845 271 0777; By car: From Newcastle central motorway, A167(M), take New Bridge Street, A193, towards Byker, turn right down Crawhall Road, left down Stepney Bank into Lime Street. There's free parking in Lime Street or in the Stepney Bank car park. By public transport: Virgin and GNER trains serve Newcastle station (08457 484950; then catch the Metro (0870 608 2608; to Manors on New Bridge Street from where the centre is a 10-minute walk. Buses run from the station to New Bridge Street.