This magnificent seven-storey warehouse dates from the 1870s and is one of the finest examples of industrial architecture in the lower Ouseburn. The warehouse was used to store grain and flour from the adjoining flour mill. The owners Messers Proctor & Sons, had converted an empty flax mill, originally designed by John Dobson and built in 1847-48. The two buildings together make a major contribution to the historic environment of the Ouseburn. both buildings face onto the river, with their rear elevation on Lime Street. because of the steep bank, the entrance on Lime Street is higher than the level sitting on the quay wall.
The original architect’s drawings show a number of features that still characterise the building today. These include cast iron columns on each floor, and the distinctive frontage to Lime Street.
Looking at the warehouse, you can see how it has been designed to fin the bend in the river so that sacks of grain could be raised from loaded wherries to any level of the building. This cargo was replaced with sacks of finished flour that were taken on the turn of the tide. It is still possible to see the location of the winch that once raided and lowered these heavy sacks.
The renovation of the historic building was completed in 2005 when all seven floors were brought back into use as a home for Seven Stories, the Center for Children’s Books. Seven Stories is where our rich heritage of children’s books is collected, explored and celebrated. It is the only place in the UK that actively collects material by British Children’s writers and illustrators. Visitors to Seven Stories enjoy exhibitions, performances, events and activities that reveal the working lives of authors and illustrators and the wonderful stories they tell,
Sea Song Sang is the Seven Stories boat. It was built by artist and boat builder Andy Comley. Andy and children from nine schools in North East England imagined a magical story boat and the journeys it might take. It is built from recycled materials and is solar powered.