Work starts on 1950s Town, farm and Georgian coaching inn
Building work has started on the £18 million expansion of Beamish, The Living Museum of the North – the biggest project in its history.
The ground-breaking ceremony was held on Friday, September 22, for the Remaking Beamish project, which will see the addition of more than 30 new exhibits, including a 1950s Town, Farm and a Georgian coaching inn, where visitors can stay overnight.
Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the project has been awarded £10.9million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Director Richard Evans said: “After years of careful planning, we are really excited to be starting this major project, creating new ways for visitors to experience Beamish and learn more about everyday life in the North East of England through time.”
The project is expected to create nearly 100 new jobs, and training opportunities, including 50 apprenticeships. An extra 100,000 tourists are expected to visit the region. The museum, in County Durham, will remain open throughout the work.
Cinema on the move
The 1950s Town will feature a cinema – being moved from Ryhope, Sunderland – a community centre, homes, shops, cafe, bowling green and fish and chip shop.
Aged miners’ homes will provide a dedicated centre for older people, including those living with dementia.
Artist Norman Cornish’s former home will be recreated, including the studio he donated to the museum.
Spain’s Field Farm, from Weardale, will tell the story of rural life in the 1950s.
The expansion of the 1820s landscape will include a coaching inn and a recreation of murdered Joe the Quilter’s cottage.
A trolleybus system and restored buses will transport visitors, while a Northern General bus depot will support Beamish’s work to pass on heritage engineering skills.
Buildings from County Durham, Tyneside, Wearside, Teesside and Northumberland will be moved or replicated in the programme.
New jobs and training
Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) North East, said: “It’s fantastic to celebrate the beginning of the project’s building work, which will see National Lottery investment used to build the much-anticipated 1950s Town, establish a pioneering wellbeing centre, create jobs and training opportunities and secure a bright future for Beamish, its staff and the hundreds of thousands who visit each year.”
North East firm Seymour Civil Engineering has been contracted to carry out the civil and infrastructure work.
Find out more about the Remaking Beamish project at www.beamish.org.uk.