Rexy’s Reviews the Dino Den is to open on the revamped site of what was the old Queen Vic pub on Victoria Road.
Once a popular music venue, the building now looks set to reverberate to the fearsome sounds of T Rex the dinosaur rather than tribute renditions of Get it On from its iconic namesake band from the 1970s.
Decorated in dinosaur movie memorabilia and lifelike models of the giant creatures which last roamed the planet around 65 million years ago, the venue will trade, buy and sell a wide range of dinosaur related products including models, art pieces, games, posters, puppets and books.
Visitors wanting to get interactive can take part in gaming sessions stretching back to retro-action on Sega and Nintendo consoles from the 1990s up to the most contemporary dinosaur games of today.
There will also be dinosaur fossils on display as well as activities and investigation packs from companies such as the National Geographic to provide an educational aspect for children and adults alike.
The Den was the dream of Andrew Garthwaite, 37, who was born and raised in Durham.
He said: “I don’t know of anywhere like this in the North East. As far as I’m aware it’s the first dedicated dinosaur themed shop and activity centre in the region. Dinosaurs have been a passion of mine since I was seven-years-old and to be ready to open this venue is a dream come true.
"Hopefully the Den will inspire other children. Other things may come and go but dinosaurs will always capture people’s imaginations – children and adults.
"I’ve always wanted to share my passion for dinosaurs and this Den gives me the chance to do so.”
Arriving at the Den in a replica jeep from the set of Jurassic Park, adorned with special edition Jurassic Park trainers and with memorabilia and props on display from the iconic movies, it’s easy to see what sparked Andrew’s initial inspiration.
He said: “There was the Land Before Time in 1988, but the original Jurassic Park just took things to a different level. I remember watching it as a boy and was mesmerised. It’s something which stayed with me ever since.”
As well as featuring displays from Andrew’s own collection, the Den will also sell and trade packaged and opened figurines and toys from both the original Land Before Time and Jurassic Park movies which are now around 30 years old.
Andrew said: “There are items here for every budget but some of the original packaged items are real collectors pieces worth hundreds of pounds. They’ve been sourced online and a number have been imported from abroad.”
The Den still houses the very distinctive bar counter which rather than used for pulling pints is now decorated in a range of raptors.
Andrew said: “The next step is to make use of the kitchen to set up a dino cafe to serve dinosaur themed food.”
The Dino Den will officially open on Saturday March 5 and will welcome a range of dinosaur vehicles and models for people to enjoy.
Andrew added: “If there’s anything dinosaur related then we will sell it.”