Work is well underway at Beamish Museum on the £20million Remaking Beamish project, the biggest development in the museum’s history.
The exciting project includes a 1950s Town, 1950s Farm, bus depot and expansion to The 1820s Landscape, including a Georgian inn where visitors can stay overnight and examples of early industry.
Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project has been awarded £10.9million grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – a major milestone in Beamish’s history and the largest single investment ever seen at the museum.
The funding will help us add to our existing attractions, creating a range of new ways for people to experience the heritage of the North East.
Buildings from throughout the region are being moved or replicated, and we have been working with communities to share their heritage.
The centrepiece is The 1950s Town – meaning that alongside existing attractions depicting life in the early 19th and 20th centuries, Beamish will once again include a period within living memory.
The 1950s welfare hall is now open. The building is replica of the Leasingthorne Colliery Welfare Hall and Community Centre, which is now known as Coundon and Leeholme Community Centre. Community groups have been involved with the project since the decision was made to replicate the hall at Beamish, and it is hoped they will use the space now the building is complete.
Other exhibits will include a cinema and examples of shops and housing from across the region. A block of Aged Miners’ Homes is being replicated in order to create a pioneering centre for people living with dementia or other long-term health conditions.
Work has already started on Front Street Terrace, which includes a fish and chip shop, hairdresser’s and John’s Cafe, a popular ice cream parlour. No. 2 Front Street will share the story of the Spennymoor Settlement of artists, writers and poets. The exhibit is based on the former Spennymoor home of celebrated North East artist Norman Cornish. He lived there from 1953 to 1967. The Spennymoor Settlement was part of a wider national movement and nurtured the talents of artists including Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness.
We will also expand the stories that we already tell from the early 19th century as part of the project. Plans include a Georgian inn, which will be open for visitors during the day as well as offering overnight accommodation.
Examples of early industry will also be built. The first Remaking Beamish exhibit to open was the recreated Georgian quilter’s cottage, which opened in 2018. The cottage shares the story of poorer working class people in the 1820s.
Alongside The 1950s Town, we will also show what upland farming life was like in rural areas in this period, by rebuilding Spain’s Field Farm, which has been collected from Weardale in County Durham.
Over 1,170 tonnes of Spain’s Field Farm’s stone and timber have been moved to the museum. The farm was carefully recorded with the help of 3D laser technology, photography, detailed notes and architectural drawings before being dismantled. Community groups are heavily involved with the rebuild, and 100-year-old Mary Forster, whose family lived in the farm for a century, took part in the ceremony to lay the first stones at Beamish.
A 1950s bus route will transport visitors around the expanded museum. The Northern General Transport Bus Depot opened in November 2019 and is home to the museum’s growing fleet of buses. The building allows visitors to watch specialist engineering work on historic vehicles.
The impact of the project is expected to be significant. Up to 100 new jobs will be created alongside a variety of training opportunities, including apprenticeships, and the project is expected to attract 100,000 more tourists to the region.
Work on the project is continuing, with the museum remaining open throughout the construction period.
Updates on the Remaking Beamish project will be posted on this blog, plus you can keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or look out for stories in the Beamish Magazine. There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved throughout!
November 22nd 2019
The new Northern General Transport Bus Depot has opened its doors at Beamish.Read more
October 7th 2019
Beamish is looking for people who would like to share their memories of going to the hairdressers in the 1950s at an event in Middlesbrough.Read more
June 19th 2019
The first building in our new 1950s Town will be officially opened on Saturday, 22nd June during a weekend of celebrations!Read more
February 15th 2019
Mary and her family, the Raines, lived at Spain's Field Farm in Weardale for over a century, and on Monday Mary celebrated her 100th birthday - Connor and Natasha, from our Remaking Beamish Team, joined in with her celebrations.Read more