Visitors will soon be able to experience more of the fabulous ‘50s with the opening of classic cinema, a milk bar and record store from the golden era of rock n roll.

An electrical store with ‘must have’ period household items, and a toy shop are also part of the new attractions as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of Beamish Museum.

They open early next month but today visitors can also step back in time to dine at a Georgian tavern and throw a traditional clay pot.

The Drovers Tavern, serving a Georgian-inspired menu, opens to the public on Friday (June 21) and launches a weekend of celebrations including music, dancing, traditional skills and activities.

The Drovers' Tavern offers a warm welcome The Drovers' Tavern offers a warm welcome (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

Ideal for weary travellers Ideal for weary travellers (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

Visitors can enjoy a hand-pulled traditional ale Visitors can enjoy a hand-pulled traditional ale (Image: Sarah Caldecott) Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s chief executive, said: “This is a major moment in the museum’s history and an incredibly proud and exciting time for Beamish, as we prepare for the opening of these fantastic new exhibits.

“Our Remaking Beamish project is the biggest capital development in Beamish’s history and has brought many new experiences and co-curated stories to the museum.

“This includes a new 1950s era, including a space for our award-winning health and wellbeing work, along with new Georgian exhibits and activities at our stunning Pockerley Old Hall, and overnight stays for the first time.

The 1950s Town has involved rebuilding the Grand cinema, from Ryhope in Sunderland; a toy shop named after the Romer Parrish shop in Middlesbrough; A Reece Ltd Radio and Electrical Services electrical and record shop, named after Alan Reece, founder of the Reece Foundation; milk bar and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) learning space.

Customers can buy '50s toys to take home Customers can buy '50s toys to take home (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

The vinyl is not for sale - but you can hear records of the era in the sound booths The vinyl is not for sale - but you can hear records of the era in the sound booths (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

See how many electrical items you recognise See how many electrical items you recognise (Image: Sarah Caldecott) This summer, the museum will open its first two Georgian-themed self-catering cottages, in original farm buildings, allowing visitors to stay overnight at the open air County Durham museum for the first time.

In The 1820s Landscape, near Pockerley Old Hall, the Drovers Tavern will bring to life the important story of the drovers who walked hundreds of miles moving livestock and carrying goods across the country, stopping off at taverns such as this to rest.

Beamish visitors will be able to dine like Georgians from the tavern’s menu, which is inspired by popular Georgian food and drinks, including potted ham, rarebit, soup, stew and salmagundi (a Georgian salad).

At the pottery, visitors will be able to see the traditional skill and have a go at making their own creation.

Seb Littlewood, senior keeper of Georgian and Farm Life, said: “The story behind droving is little known but hugely important to the region's past agricultural economy.

“The movement of tens of thousands of cattle, and later sheep, from certain regions of Scotland and across the Cheviots into the north of England added to the prosperity and growth of numerous market towns in Northumberland and Cumberland in the 18th and 19th century; towns and cities such as Carlisle, Hexham, Morpeth and even villages nestled at the foot of the Cheviots like Elsdon.

“As the drovers travelled the length and breadth of these routes, they needed sustenance and rest, so a network of inns and taverns grew up along these routes to provide for them and other travellers.”

He added: “The pottery tells the story of a small independent potter, who would produce wares to be used locally by local people.

“He would be producing what people needed, so domestic items; bowls, pancheons, beakers, candlesticks etc.

“He would also be able to make small quantities of bricks and possibly pantiles for local buildings as well as drainage tiles for farmers’ field drains.”

On July 6, the 1950s Town exhibits are due to open with a weekend of celebrations, with more details to be announced soon.

The 'dream factory' cinema has been lovingly recreated The 'dream factory' cinema has been lovingly recreated (Image: Sarah Caldecott) At the recreation of the Grand cinema, from Ryhope in Sunderland, people will be able to enjoy a 1950s trip to the cinema, watching Pathé News, adverts and films.

Beamish has been working with community groups and schools in Ryhope to explore 1950s life and create films and adverts to be screened in the cinema. Individuals and companies have sponsored cinema seats in support of the project.

The Grand was hugely popular in its heyday in the 1950s.

It later became a bingo hall before closing and was donated to the museum by Angela and Gary Hepple.

The original building underwent a full architectural survey to assess which materials were suitable for salvage and re-use and a record made of any items that could not be saved.

In 2020, the Grand was dismantled, with re-usable parts and features incorporated into the cinema at Beamish.

Bill Mather, who was a trainee projectionist at the Grand in Ryhope, from 1950 to 1955, has been working with Beamish and will officially open the cinema next month.

He said: “I feel like I’m back standing in the Grand in the 1950s. I’m back in my palace of dreams, it’s like being lifted up and being put back into the 1950s.”

Bill examining a roll of projector film Bill examining a roll of projector film (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

And at work around 40 years ago And at work around 40 years ago (Image: Sarah Caldecott) Bill has worked closely with the museum, sharing memories of the Grand during the decade, and is looking forward to the opening at the museum.

He said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Beamish. It will be taking visitors back to the era of 1950s cinema. At the Grand, we got regulars who would come three times a week.”

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The Grand ignited Bill’s love of cinema and was the start of a 53-year career that led to him running cinemas around the country.

He added: “The Grand was the embryo of me starting in cinema – being in the Grand and all the things I learned there, I carried it on right through my 53-year career in cinema.”

Bill MatherBill Mather (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

The 1950s toy shop is named after the popular Romer Parrish toy shop in Middlesbrough.

Visitors can see toys on display from the museum’s collection, discover the dolls’ hospital, as well as purchase 1950s-style toys.

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Although not a replica of the original Romer Parrish shop, as these 1950s shops are more modern in style, it is inspired by and named after the original and will tell the story of Romer Parrish, the shop and life in Middlesbrough in the 1950s. Beamish has been working with Romer’s son Brian on the exhibit, and with Teesside communities to gather memories and create a children’s film that will be screened at the museum.

A Reece Ltd Radio and Electrical Services has the latest in 1950s appliances from the museum’s collection, ranging from TVs and radios to vacuum cleaners and cookers.

Upstairs is a record shop where visitors can hear the latest in 1950s tunes in the listening booths.

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Rhiannon Hiles in the new cinema at Beamish MuseumRhiannon Hiles in the new cinema at Beamish Museum (Image: Sarah Caldecott) Rhiannon added: “A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in this ground-breaking project, including our teams of brilliant, dedicated staff and volunteers, the communities who shared their heritage and memories, and our supporters, funders, including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and visitors, this support is vital to us, as an independent charity.

“At Beamish, we welcome over 800,000 visitors a year from across the UK and the world and we can’t wait for everyone to experience these fantastic new additions.

“Working with our partners from across the North East, we’re continuing to drive visits to the region, helping to showcase what an extraordinary place the North East is to visit, live, learn and work in.”