Beamish to rock back to ‘50s after winning £10million lottery grant

Beamish Museum Director, Richard Evans celebrates with Babycham at a street party set in the 1950s being held at Beamish Museum, County Durham.
Beamish Museum Director, Richard Evans celebrates with Babycham at a street party set in the 1950s being held at Beamish Museum, County Durham.
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Beamish will be rocking back the clock to the 1950s after securing a £10.9million grant to create a major new attraction at the County Durham museum.

Staff and volunteers are celebrating after being granted the bumper amount from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Director of Beamish Museum, Richard Evans, looks around the former Grand Electric Cinema in St.Paul's Terrace, Ryhope.

The Director of Beamish Museum, Richard Evans, looks around the former Grand Electric Cinema in St.Paul's Terrace, Ryhope.

It will be ploughed into the £18million Remaking Beamish scheme, the largest single investment ever seen at the site.

After securing the grant, work will now begin this winter to build a 1950s town, a 1950s upland farm, an 1820s landscape and 1950s trolleybus system.

The new town will be build on land between Pockerley Old Hall and the 1900s Town and will include:

•Moving the former Grand Electric Cinema, brick by brick, from Ryhope, Sunderland, to the 1950s town.

John Parisella in his cafe at Front Street Wingate

John Parisella in his cafe at Front Street Wingate

•Replicating a semi-detached house from Red House, Sunderland.

•Replicating a block of aged miners’ homes from Marsden Road, South Shields, to create a pioneering centre for older people, including those living with dementia.

•A recreation of John’ Cafe from Front Street, Wingate, which was run by John Parisella and his family from the early 1950s and was a popular hang-out for local teenagers.

Highlights will also include a shop from Blackhall Rocks and the chance for visitors to stay overnight in a Georgian coaching inn from Great North Road near Scotch Corner on the A1 in the new 1820s landscape. Self-catering accommodation for families in 1950s pre-fabricated homes is also planned.

Aged Miners Homes in South Shields

Aged Miners Homes in South Shields

Hailed as a major milestone in Beamish’s history, the project will take around four years to complete - with the museum remaining open to visitors throughout.

Richard Evans, Beamish’s director, said: “This is just incredible news - and I am so proud of everyone at Beamish who has worked so hard to achieve this amazing success.

“We’d like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund and all of the National Lottery players who have made this possible.

“The project is the result of years of careful planning – with staff and volunteers working alongside people from across the North East so we can tell their story. We couldn’t do this without the help and support of local people – and are so grateful for the donations we have received of buildings, objects and stories.

“I hope people from all across the country will enjoy seeing the new exhibits being created in the museum over the next four years. These are exciting times for everyone who cares for Beamish – our visitors, supporters, staff and volunteers. This is the most ambitious project we’ve ever undertaken – building on our successful growth in recent years – so we can all achieve even more in the future.”

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this vital next step for Beamish, allowing one of our region’s most popular attractions to continue to build on its success and open the door to another decade of North East life.

“From the creation of jobs and training for the next generation, to establishing a pioneering wellbeing centre within an historic setting, today’s investment truly puts people at the heart of their heritage. Congratulations to all involved and here’s to a bright and secure future for Beamish, its staff and the thousands who visit each year.”

Over the past four years, buildings and thousands of objects have been added to the collections to prepare for the project to begin this year which will include 30 new exhibits across the museum site.

Staff have also been working with communities to share their heritage for the new attractions.

Nearly 100 new jobs will be created by Remaking Beamish, alongside more than a thousand training opportunities - including 50 apprenticeships.

Beamish already attracts nearly 700,000 visitors every year and by 2020 this number is expected to grow further, with 100,000 more tourists attracted to the region.

•Win a family day pass to Beamish, plus a meal for four at the nearby South Causey Inn here