Historic Sunderland landmark is dismantled ahead of Beamish Museum rebirth

An historic landmark is being dismantled ahead of its rebirth around 15 miles away.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 7:00 am

The former Grand electric cinema and bingo hall, in St Paul’s Terrace, Ryhope, Sunderland, is disappearing from view before it is rebuilt at Beamish Museum, near Stanley, where it will again show movies as part of the historic visitor attraction’s new 1950s Town project.

The museum has described the project to dismantle and transport much of the century-old premises “as the largest building we’ve ever moved”.

Completed at around the start of the First World War in 1914, the cinema was originally known as The Grand Picture Palace before becoming The Grand Theatre.

Demolition work at the former Ryhope bingo hall and electric cinema.

It later became a bingo hall and was last occupied for storage by owners Angela and Gary Hepple before they donated it to Beamish.

As well as restoring and rebuilding the cinema, which could seat 910 spectators in its heyday, the 1950s Town project, which is backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will feature shops, houses, a cafe, fish and chip shop, a community centre, aged miners’ homes and a bowling green.

Helen Barker, Beamish’s assistant director engagement activity and collections access, said: “At Beamish, we will give visitors a chance to experience a trip to the cinema in the 1950s and discover the stories and memories we’ve been collecting during the project.

“We will include as much of the original building from Ryhope as possible, including distinctive features such as the stained glass windows, canopy, roof slates and some of the brick work.

A last look inside the building before it is finally flattened.

"The ornate interior mouldings have been carefully recorded and will be replicated in the cinema, as due to their condition it is not possible to collect them.

“The recreated cinema will be part of our 1950s Town, which will also include houses, shops, a cafe, fish and chip shop and bowling green.

"The first exhibit, a replica of Leasingthorne Colliery Welfare Hall and Community Centre, is open to visitors.”

Work on dismantling The Grand has restarted after it was paused in March following the coronavirus outbreak.

Beamish staff, from left to right, Rachel Palmieri, Matthew Henderson, Nick Butterley and Geraldine Straker inside the former cinema and bingo hall back in 2018.

The public enjoyed a final look around the premises in early 2018 as part of guided tours in which they also learned about the £18m Remaking Beamish project.

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The decor inside the building back in 2018.

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