Cinema to be moved to Beamish for 1950s Town

July 27th 2015

A cinema from Sunderland will be moved brick by brick and rebuilt at Beamish Museum in its planned 1950s Town. The former Grand Electric Cinema, in Ryhope, has been donated to the museum by owners Angela and Gary Hepple.

Beamish will carefully take the building down, and transport it to the museum, to be rebuilt and brought to life in the 1950s Town, screening films, newsreels and period adverts.

Up to 600 cinema seats are also being donated to the museum from the former Palladium Cinema in Claypath, Durham, by Student Castle, which is working with NLP Planning.

Richard Evans, Beamish Museum’s Director, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that this fantastic building, which tells a fascinating story about the community in Ryhope, will be part of our Remaking Beamish project.

“We’re very grateful to Angela and Gary for donating the wonderful cinema building. We’d also like to thank Student Castle for the seats.”

The cinema in Ryhope was being officially handed over to Beamish today (Monday 27th July) by Angela and Gary.

Angela and Gary, owners of Garage on the Green, in Ryhope, said: “We are delighted that the cinema will be brought back to life by Beamish Museum, where the people of Ryhope will be able to reminisce with their families during visits to Beamish.”

Jacqui Hawthorn, Chief Operating Officer of Student Castle, said: “Student Castle is delighted to be donating these cinema seats to the wonderful Beamish Museum to be used in its planned 1950s cinema.”

The Ryhope cinema was built in 1912 and closed in the 1960s before later becoming a bingo hall, and is no longer in use. The rebuilt cinema will use a 1930s projector that was collected from Durham University.

Beamish is keen to hear people’s memories of the cinema in Ryhope and would love to speak to anyone who used to work there. Contact Geraldine Straker, Remaking Beamish Project Officer, tel. 0191 370 4060 or email:

People are invited to come and find out more about the fantastic project at Ryhope Carnival from 11am to 4pm on 1st August in Ryhope Recreation Park, when staff from the museum will be on hand.

In the coming weeks Beamish will announce some of the other North East buildings that are part of its £17million Remaking Beamish project, which includes plans for a 1950s Town and upland farm and expansion of its Georgian area, including a coaching inn. Beamish has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £10.75million grant.

Other buildings already announced as part of Remaking Beamish include replicas of artist Norman Cornish’s house in Spennymoor, County Durham; Joe the Quilter’s cottage in Warden, Northumberland; John’s Cafe from Wingate, County Durham; the 1950s semi-detached house of Esther Gibbon from Red House in Sunderland; Marsden Road Aged Miners’ Homes in South Shields – which will provide a centre for people living with dementia, older people and their families; plus pre-fabricated Airey Houses, which have been collected from Gateshead.