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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 09:57 GMT
First centre for children's literature
Centre for the Children's Book
The centre is based in a former Victorian mill in Newcastle
The country's first dedicated centre for children's literature is on course to open on Tyneside.

With 6m raised in as many years, the Centre for the Children's Book, in Newcastle, is on course for a 2005 opening.

Builders will shortly be appointed to transform a seven-storey Victorian mill into the country's first cultural centre for children's literature.

Now 750,000 has to be raised to fit and equip the Grade II listed building, plus a further 500,000 for maintaining a growing archive of manuscripts and illustrations and for a programme of events.

Existing funding includes 1.5m that was used to purchase and design the seven-storey building and adjacent warehouse in the Ouseburn Valley area of Newcastle and 4.5m which will be spent on its reconstruction and refurbishment.

Mary Briggs, the centre's chief executive, said: "The Centre for the Children's Book has reached a watershed.

'Literary culture'

"We've raised 6m in six years for a building, which will be the UK's first dedicated visitor attraction for children's literature and since 1998 we have reached over 75,000 children and families with our exhibitions and events.

"We are now looking forward to the next stage in our journey which will reach millions of children and create a permanent national resource placing children, young people and their books at the heart of our national literary culture."

Mark Robinson, director of arts and development for Arts Council England, North East, said: "The Centre for the Children's Book will enthuse children and adults alike with the magic of books and be an embodiment of the imagination of writers, illustrators and publishers.

"It is therefore a fitting place to launch this important strategy."

Victor Watson, chairman of the centre, added: "Children in the South-East will benefit from the centre in precisely the same way as children in the North-East who are interested in ballet benefit from the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden.

"Other aspects of our culture have their recognised centres, but there has never been a cultural base for children's literature."



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