Work has now begun on Remaking Beamish, an enormous £18-million scheme to expand Beamish Museum, near Stanley. The project will take around four years to complete.
The open-air museum will stay open to the public throughout the expansion process.
The centrepiece of Remaking Beamish will be a 1950s town, complete with a cinema, shops, a café, a bowling green, a pair of police house and a fish ‘n’ chip shop.
The cinema is the Grand Electric Cinema, from Ryhope, in Sunderland, which will be dismantled, moved to Beamish and restored. The bowling green and its pavilion will be based on those of Billingham Bowling Club while the police houses will use features from buildings in Heworth, Gateshead.
The café will be modelled on John’s Café, from Wingate, County Durham. This café was popular with young people in the 1950s and some of its former customers have been helping Beamish Museum to recreate its interior.
A trolleybus system – along with restored motor-powered buses – will ferry visitors around the 1950s town.
Other new exhibits will include a Weardale farm and a recreation of a coaching inn that once stood alongside the A1 at Scotch Corner, at which tourists will be able to stay overnight.
The Remaking Beamish project – made possible by a lottery grant of £10.9 million – will create around 95 jobs and 50 apprenticeships. The expanded museum is expected to attract 100,000 more tourists per year by 2021.
The director of Beamish Museum, 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.”
“This is the largest project we have ever undertaken so this is a major milestone in the history of Beamish.”
(Featured image courtesy of Ed Webster, from Flickr Creative Commons)