Outside Engagement – Everyone has a Story to Tell…

June 16th 2022

By Connor Emerson – Remaking Beamish Engagement Development Officer

As part of the Remaking Beamish project, over the summer we will be trialling some outside engagement in and around The 1950s Town’s Front Street terrace and the welfare hall. We will use the outside spaces in these areas to tell stories of important events in the North East during the 1950s. This will make the streets in The 1950s Town a more dynamic place, where visitors can stumble upon and interact with local history.

This summer we will be trialling some initial scenarios, with more to come throughout the year. All of these stories will shine a light on major events that affected everyday life in the North East through the 1950s. This includes stories about the Category D programme, the Eppleton Colliery disaster and the impact of National Service. So far, we have created two scenarios that visitors may come across on their visit.

In the “Category D-iscussion” scenario, a leaflet has been pasted to the wall decrying Category D. How will the residents and workers of the street react to this news and what impact will it have on them in the near future? Under the 1951 County Durham Development Plan, towns and villages were split into four categories, A to D, depending on whether they were likely to grow or decline in the future. The plan earmarked 114 Category D villages, which would not receive investment and residents were to be moved out.

In the “Eppleton Colliery” disaster scenario, news of an incident at the local pit ripples through the community only five weeks after the Easington disaster. Find out how the community responds to this harrowing event.

The scenarios do not have a set time when they happen. Instead, the engagement will happen organically over the course of the day, allowing visitors to witness the unfolding of the events.

We are currently working on more outside engagement in The 1950s Town and will introduce this in the coming months. This includes stories on rationing in the early 1950s, the 11 Plus and other stories from the North East.

In addition to this, we are working with a student from Sheffield University through Transforming and Activating Places (a two-year student knowledge exchange project) to research local events from newspaper archives and create new scenarios that we will introduce over the coming months.

We are also looking to expand our commitment to outside engagement in the near future by branching out from events-driven engagement and introducing character-based engagement as well. This may involve simple characters like a postman, housing inspector or electric shop salesperson.

Keep an eye out in the coming months for more things happening on the street in The 1950s Town.