1950s Coronation Park and Recreation Ground opens at Beamish Museum!

May 30th 2022

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North has opened Coronation Park and Recreation Ground in its 1950s Town today (Friday, 27th May 2022) to begin a week of celebrations for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The park, named in honour of The Queen, includes a 1950s-style playground, miniature golf course, sandpit, giant draughts board and football area. It was officially unveiled by Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, and representatives of Durham Amateur Football Trust. They were joined by children from Beamish and Pelton Federation of Schools, who were the first visitors to try out the new park.

The museum is holding a week of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations from 28th May to 5th June. Visitors can travel back to the 1950s – the decade Her Majesty began her reign – and join in with street parties, music, crown making, football skills, crafts and other Jubilee-themed fun. To find out more click here.

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s Chief Executive, said: “We are so pleased to be opening the next phase of our Remaking Beamish project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – the children’s play area, mini golf and football pitch adjacent to our welfare hall. We are very proud to have been working with the Woodshed project from Sacriston on the obstacles for the mini golf, and Durham Amateur Football Trust on the pitch and shed. We can’t wait to share the stories with our visitors and hope they enjoy taking part in the new activities.

“This is a fantastic time for Beamish with each step of our major capital project coming to fruition, enhancing the visitor experience with new and exciting exhibits and areas telling the story of the North East in the 1950s.

“We are thrilled to be opening this new area, with guests from our communities who have helped to create this new part of the museum, and we can’t wait to welcome visitors new and old.”

Coronation Park and Recreation Ground is part of the Remaking Beamish project, which includes The 1950s Town, 1950s Spain’s Field Farm and expansion of The 1820s Landscape. Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project was awarded £10.9million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016.

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re thrilled to have been able to support the opening of Coronation Park at Beamish thanks to National Lottery players. This brand new attraction will allow visitors to take part in fun and games 1950s style and is a great way to honour The Queen in the year of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.”

Coronation Park, which is next to the 1950s welfare hall, is inspired by memories, stories and images of 1950s recreation grounds and leisure facilities in the North East.

The park includes modern reproductions of 1950s favourites such as the witch’s hat, roundabout, slide, swings and horse rocker. Visitors can have a go at the miniature golf course, with holes inspired by North East landmarks and stories such as the Tyne Bridge, Lambton Worm, High and Low Force and Sycamore Gap. A giant draughts board from Riverside Park, in Chester-le-Street, has been recreated with the help of an archive image.

A replica of John Whitehead Park bowling green and pavilion is due to open later this year. The original pavilion was built in the early 1950s by Billingham Urban District Council.

Coronation Park helps to tell the story of recreation and leisure in the 1950s and Beamish has worked with communities to gather memories and stories. Some parks and play areas were created alongside developing housing estates, while others were already well established by the 1950s. Playground provision grew after the Second World War, with grants provided by the National Playing Fields Association in the 1950s. People had more time for leisure and recreational amenities such as putting greens, tennis courts and bowling greens were also provided.

Beamish has worked with Durham Amateur Football Trust to develop the football area, which celebrates the golden age of amateur football in the 1950s. A pitch-side hut features football-related objects from the decade, such as programmes and tickets.

Bob Thursby, from Durham Amateur Football Trust, who took part in the opening ceremony, won the FA Amateur Cup at Wembley in 1957 playing for Bishop Auckland and he went on to captain the England amateur football team.

Tomorrow (Saturday, 28th May), Beamish is hosting an exhibition match to commemorate the famous 1954 FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Crook Town, which originally ran for 330 minutes over three games. The commemorative match between Bishop Auckland St Mary’s and Crook Town Juniors Under 14s will take place on the Events Field, from 11am.

Beamish is holding a week of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations from 28th May to 5th June. Visitors can join in with street parties outside the 1950s terrace, enjoy 1950s music and dancing, make crowns, play party games and watch footage of The Queen’s Coronation in the welfare hall.

During Industry Day on 28th May in the welfare hall, see traditional skills such as lacemaking, basket weaving, proggy mat making, beekeeping, accordions, harness making, plus a display by Durham Amateur Football Trust.

Cleveland Miniaturists’ Jubilee street party scene will be on display in the welfare hall committee room on 2nd and 3rd June.

On 4th and 5th June, the Women’s Institute will be at the museum with crafts and displays, plus a parade on 5th June. A TVR Car Rally will also be held on the Events Field on 4th and 5th June.

Beamish Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Visitors need to book a timeslot for 10am, 11am and 12pm but from 1pm onwards no pre-booking is required. For more information about visiting Beamish, click here.