The Grand

Under Construction

The Grand cinema will be part of The 1950s Town, giving people a chance to experience a trip to the cinema during the decade.

The cinema, from Ryhope, in Sunderland, will be recreated and brought to life, screening films, period newsreels and adverts.

The Grand originally closed in the 1960s and later became a bingo hall but is no longer in use. It was donated to the museum by Angela and Gary Hepple.

Dozens of 1940s and 1950s film reports that were saved from the grand cinema in Ryhope, Sunderland, have also been donated to Beamish. More than 100 documents were rescued from a skip by Matthew Bateley, who worked at the cinema from 1985 to 1991.

Dating between 1948 and 1958, these film reports give a description of the films being shown at cinemas such as The Grand. They were produced for the cinemas to use, and gave handy information such as the running time of the film, and the length of the film reel in feet. The reports include information about the airing of the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and a description of a 1950s Goofy cartoon.

Nearly 600 cinema seats have been donated to the museum from the former Palladium Cinema in Claypath, Durham, by Student Castle, which is working with NLP Planning. Beamish also collected a 1930s projector 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.

Among the people involved in the project is Bill Mather, who was born in Ryhope and was a trainee projectionist at the cinema between 1950 and 1955.

He describes The Grand as a “Palace of Dreams” and used to visit from the age of five or six, before becoming a trainee projectionist from 10 years old.

Bill, who was born in 1940, shared his memories of the cinema in the 1950s with Beamish’s design team, recalling what it looked like inside and the appearance and location of features and objects.

Anyone with memories or photos of The Grand or 1950s Ryhope is asked to contact Charly Robson, Remaking Beamish Community Participation Officer (Maternity Cover), email