Work is underway on our 1950s Town. It represents a new decade at the museum, telling the story of everyday life in the post-war period.
The 1950s was a time of change and rebuilding after the Second World War, including social housing, the early years of the National Health Service and changes to people’s lifestyle, which for the first time might have included leisure time!
Visitors will enter The 1950s Town down a bustling, mainly commercial Front Street which is comprised of Edwardian-style buildings which have been updated in subsequent decades. The Front Street leads visitors into an area of new build “estate” which comprises social housing, police houses and office, welfare hall and recreation ground. Aged miners’ homes will also be built and will provide a space for people living with dementia or other long-term health conditions. The development is linked by a trolleybus route.
Front Street terrace is now open! The terrace includes a fish and chip shop, hairdresser’s and John’s Café, a popular café from Wingate, East Durham. No. 2 Front Street shares 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 who lived there from 1953 to 1967.
On the opposite side of the street will be a cinema (The Grand), toy shop and electrical shop – above which is a bedsit. All of the buildings within the project are based on real buildings – some of which are still in existence. The Grand cinema from Ryhope, Sunderland, has been carefully deconstructed. Nearly 14,000 slates and 35,000 bricks were collected from the building. This side of the street will open as part of the wider 1950s Town in summer 2023.
The 1950s Town’s first exhibit, Leasingthorne Colliery Welfare Hall and Community Centre, opened in 2019.
Take a look at each of the exciting new exhibits below!