Banks Group Takes a Seat in Beamish Museum’s 1950s Cinema

June 5th 2024

Property development and energy company, the Banks Group, has become the first business to sponsor a seat in our 1950s cinema.

We have built a recreation of the Grand, from Ryhope in Sunderland, as part of the 1950s Town and individuals and businesses are being given the unique opportunity to sponsor a cinema seat as part of the Take a Seat campaign.

Those who Take a Seat receive a brass plaque on the back of the seat with their name engraved on it, as well as an invitation to a special celebration event.

Businesses such as the Banks Group who sponsor a cinema seat will also have the opportunity to have their logo displayed on screen in the rolling credits following a newsreel or film as an extra thank you.

Liz Peart, Partnerships Officer at Beamish Museum, said: “We are delighted that the Banks Group is the first business to be taking a seat in our 1950s cinema and would like to thank them for their ongoing and very generous support of the museum and particularly our Remaking Beamish project.”

Banks is a long-term supporter of Beamish, with a £10,000 grant from the Banks Community Fund supporting the museum’s recreation of the celebrated North East artist Norman Cornish’s Spennymoor home, and a £20,000 grant aiding the construction of a replica of the Coundon and Leeholme Community Centre.

Kate Culverhouse, community relations manager at the Banks Group, added: “By bringing history to life through outstanding projects like the 1950s cinema, Beamish is safeguarding and strengthening links to the North East’s unique history and heritage.

“It’s a real jewel in the region’s tourism offering, and as a fellow County Durham-based business, we’re proud to be continuing our long-term support for its fantastic work.”

Prior to the Banks Group becoming the first business to sponsor a seat, the opportunity had already been taken up by a number of individuals, many of whom have personal or family connections to the original cinema.

Seat sponsorship is being sold on a first come, first served basis from the museum’s online shop, sponsorship is subject to terms and conditions. Individual seat sponsorship is £295, with a package available for businesses priced at £5,000 which includes acknowledgement of the sponsorship on screen. Visit our Take a Seat page for more information.

The Grand was a working cinema from its opening in 1913 and was hugely popular in its heyday in the 1950s, regularly selling out all its seats. A sharp decline in cinema visits in the 1960s, due largely to the popularity and availability of television sets, meant that the cinema ceased trading and became a bingo hall. The Grand was donated to the museum by Angela and Gary Hepple.

In 2019, the original building underwent a full architectural survey to assess which materials were suitable for salvage and re-use and a record made of any items that could not be saved. In 2020, the Grand was dismantled, with re-usable parts and features incorporated into The 1950s Town cinema.

Beamish Museum’s recreation of the Grand is set to include options of feature length films at set times as well as showing archive footage, shorts and news during the day, plus potential for occasional evening screenings of 1950s classic films. Visitors will also be able to take a look behind the scenes at the projection room and learn about the skilled role of the projectionist.

The cinema is being built as part of the Remaking Beamish project, the biggest development in the museum’s history which includes a 1950s Town, 1950s Spain’s Field Farm and expansion of the Georgian landscape, including self-catering accommodation and a Drovers Tavern and pottery.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project was awarded £11.8million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.