Dementia-friendly centre in replica of miners homes

May 13th 2015

A centre for people living with dementia is set to be created at Beamish Museum in a replica of aged miners’ homes. A terrace of four houses from Marsden Road in South Shields has been chosen to be copied at the museum as part of its planned 1950s Town.

Two of the replicated homes will host pioneering sessions for people living with dementia, older people, and their families and carers – building on acclaimed work already done by the museum.

The Marsden Road homes are owned by Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) which is working with Beamish on the project. Beamish is speaking to residents and other community groups to gather their memories of the 1950s as part of the exciting project.

Michelle Kindleysides, Beamish’s Active Ageing Officer, said: “We’re so fortunate to have such a unique environment to support our work with people living with dementia. “Our 1940s Orchard Cottage has proved a great success. We’ve welcomed a wide range of groups to enjoy lots of different activities together. Being able to use a house which is full of original furniture, objects and music from the 1940s and 50s means the environment is very often much more familiar. “Our work has been really well received by community groups and care providers in the region too. The opening of the new 1950s houses will mean we will be able to work with even more people, especially those who would usually find it difficult to leave their own homes or care setting.”

Paul Mullis, Chief Executive of DAMHA, said: “We are flattered and delighted to have been approached to help with the project and it will be fantastic to see some of our properties replicated at the museum.

“We have many residents who will remember what it was like living in the 1950s, or perhaps there are people who have been handed down objects from this decade, so as well as having our homes at the museum it will also be great for the memories and mementos of our residents and their families to be part of this fantastic project.”

Beamish has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10.75million funding for the Remaking Beamish project which includes plans for the 1950s Town and upland farm, Georgian coaching inn and other developments.

Aged miners’ homes were some of the earliest forms of social housing to help elderly members of mining communities. The Marsden Road homes, which were opened in 1915, had indoor toilets when they were built, demonstrating the commitment to high quality care that the Aged Miners’ Homes Association had from the outset.

In addition to the centre for people living with dementia, the plan is that two of the aged miners’ homes at Beamish will be open to all visitors to help tell the story of life in the 1950s.

The museum already hosts sessions for people living with dementia and their families and carers at Orchard Cottage at the 1940s Farm, with activities ranging from sing-alongs and traditional baking to crafts and gardening. More than 100 Beamish staff and volunteers are also trained Dementia Friends.

Beamish has been working with a range of partners on the future plans including Alzheimer’s Society, Helen McArdle Care and local NHS service providers.

Beamish is holding a series of events from 18th to 23rd May for Dementia Awareness Week, including Singing for the Brain, music makers, Beamish’s Big Dig and Dementia Friends workshops.