Beamish set to recreate the 50s

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Derwentside & Tyneside)

A MUSEUM famous for reviving the region’s industrial past is to preserve another chapter of North-East history, when Britain had a new young Queen and the gloom of the austerity years was beginning to lift.

The rock’n’roll years of the 1950s will be recreated at Beamish Museum and could feature a cinema, theatre, trolley bus and shopping arcade as part of a £25m development strategy between next year and 2025.

The leading tourist attraction already offers visitors the chance to experience what life was like in the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Now it has bought four prefab houses, one of the symbols of post war Britain, to re-assemble on its site, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham to recreate a decade of great social change in the area.

The first parts of the Airey houses, which feature a frame of prefabricated concrete columns clad with a series of ship-lap style concrete panels, are expected to arrive this week.

Kate Reeder, keeper of social history at Beamish, said: “In the 1950s there was a lot of urban development and industrial changes.

“People who had lived in slums and single rooms could now become tenants of council houses with luxuries like gardens, bathrooms and indoor toilets.”

The museum is now thinking about collecting memorabilia from the period to recreate what life was like and is asking people search their attics for old toys, furniture, radio, records and other memorabilia.

Ms Reeder said: “Shopping was changing with the first self-service stores, the coffee bars and juke boxes emerged and more people were buying TVs and record players.

“It is more than 60 years ago and the concept of Beamish is that three generations of a family could visit and the grandparents could relate to some of what they saw.”

Other planned developments include a regional transport centre for heritage groups to restore, display and operate vintage vehicle and an area dedicated to the digital age of the 1980s.

Museum director Richard Evans said the museum aims to double the number of visitors from 45,000 to 90,000 over the next ten years and would include overnight stays for school groups.

Visitors will be able to stay at the Great North Road coaching inn and will include a bar and restaurant as well as high quality period accommodation.

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