Beamish, the open-air museum of north-east life near Consett, has drawn up ambitious expansion plans – plans which have been made possible by the scooping of a £10.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The grant means work can now go ahead on the Remaking Beamish project. Due to start this winter, this scheme aims to add new features to the museum over the coming four years. It is estimated the project will cost £18 million in total.
The new attractions will include a 1950s town and a Weardale farm. A 1950s trolleybus service will be installed, along with a bus depot featuring restored buses from yesteryear. A model of the studio of the Spennymore artist Norman Cornish will be created. An entire cinema will also be moved brick by brick from Sunderland.
A Georgian coaching inn, based on one that once stood near Scotch Corner, will be built. The inn will even offer overnight accommodation to visitors. Family accommodation will also be provided in pre-fabricated 1950s houses. A block of Aged Miner’s Homes will be constructed to serve as a centre for older people, including those suffering from dementia.
In total, the Remaking Beamish project aims to create thirty new exhibits. The museum will remain open to the public throughout the expansion process.
It is hoped that through this project Beamish Museum will create 100 jobs and provide 50 apprenticeships. The museum also aims to attract an additional 100,000 visitors annually.
Beamish Museum’s director, Richard Evans, said, “This is just incredible news – I am so proud of everyone at Beamish who has worked so hard to achieve this amazing success. 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.”
Mr Evans added, “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. 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, the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund 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 build on its success and open the door to another decade of north-east life.”