Work to move a centuries-old farm to Beamish Museum is underway – and has received a boost from the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust.
Spain’s Field Farm, in Weardale, is being taken down stone by stone and is set to be rebuilt at the museum as part of the Remaking Beamish project.
The Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust has generously donated £162,000 to Beamish over a four year period. The funding will support work with schools in Sunderland – where Sir Tom was from – giving opportunities for children to learn about the heritage of their region, and experience rural life and the outdoors.
Part of the trust’s donation will contribute towards the capital costs of Spain’s Field Farm, which will be set in the 1950s at Beamish, telling the story of upland farming in the Durham Dales during that period.
Sally Dixon, Beamish’s Assistant Director Partnerships & Communications, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive this generous donation from the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust, and very much looking forward to building a close relationship with the Sunderland schools over the four year period.
“The grant will mean that primary school-aged children have the opportunity to learn about the heritage of the region in which they are growing up. It will also mean that Beamish can tell the story of rural life in the region in the 1950s – a period of significant change.”
David Gray, from the Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust, said: “The trust is keen to become involved in the Spain’s Field project, as the Dales were a very important part of the second half of Sir Tom’s life. He spent many an enjoyable day in the Dales of Teesdale and Weardale and always felt he was very fortunate, coming from Sunderland, to learn about rural life in West Durham.
“He was one of the initial benefactors associated with Beamish Museum and, following his death, the Charitable Trust’s trustees have looked to work particularly with children from the urban environment of Sunderland, introducing them to both present and past rural life in the region.
“The opportunity to be involved with the moving of Spain’s Field from Weardale to Beamish and making it available to children, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn about an important part of the Dale’s history, fits closely with the charitable trustees’ objectives.
“At the same time, the trustees are working with the museum to set up a link with eight primary schools from Sunderland and this will be particularly focused on children who otherwise wouldn’t manage to visit such a fantastic local facility as Beamish Museum.”
The deconstruction of the farm, which was donated to Beamish by the Jopling family, is taking place over the summer.
Clara Woolford, Remaking Beamish Project Officer (Research & Design), said: “The farm is a wonderfully preserved building. When we got it, the farm was still full of lots of furniture and the hay loft was still full of things like a sheep shearing table, tin baths and old pairs of boots.
“We’re recording the farm in situ and then gradually starting to take it down, recording it as we go, so it will be able to be accurately rebuilt back at the museum.”
The Remaking Beamish project has received initial support for a £10.75million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A decision on the funding is due later this year.