Miners' strike part of history

Miners' strike part of history

Scenes from the miners' strike

Beamish director Richard Evans takes a closer look at some of the items from the 1980's which are held in the museum archive.

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

PLANS to preserve the dying days of the coalmining industry in the North-East are being made as Beamish Museum has revealed it will revive the tensions of the the miners’ strike in future.

Part of the living museum dedicated to the 1980s mean visitors will be able to chart the rise and fall of the region’s industrial past, culminating in the acrimonious clashes between union leaders and Margaret Thatcher’s Government, as well as pitmen and the police.

Museum director Richard Evans unveiled the idea as part of a £25m 12 year strategy for the visitor centre, near Chester-le-Street in County Durham.

He said: “People will come with their own memories of the 80s and their own experiences and we will talk to them and they will be recorded.

“The 80s is clearly a very emotional and difficult time for a lot of people and we do not underestimate that.”

The more modern section is unlikely to be ready before 2025, when people who would have been young men during the strike, are grandparents.

The time scale fits in with Beamish Museum’s ethos that three generations of the same family will be able to come and take something different away from the experience.

For school parties of the future, the displays will offer a history lessons but for former miners who lived through the years of industrial action between 1984-85, it will be a trip down memory lane.

As well as stories from the picket lines, there will be artifacts reflecting social history, how people lived and the icons of the days such as Rubik’s cubes and Sony walkmans.

Beamish currently features Pockerley Hall, which is set in the 1820s, when deep coal mining was becoming widespread, and the Edwardian town and village of 1910-13, which is set amid the industry’s heyday.

The Northern Echo: TOUGH TIMES: Beamish director Richard Evans takes a closer look at some of the items from the 1980s that are held in the museum archive

Mr Evans said part of the open air site dedicated to the 50s could be open in around five years and will feature a cinema, theatre, trolley bus and shopping arcade, but the 80s section would take considerably longer.

He said: “We are talking about continuing the history of the North-East past the First World War, but doing it in the same style to tell the story of the region on through time.

“The 80s will be recorded in a way that records the fact that it was clearly a very important decade in terms of Britain’s industrial history, and especially the North-East’s history.”

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