MUCH loved Beamish Museum is looking forward to the 1950s after receiving initial support for Lottery funding worth over £10million.
The ‘Living Museum’ now has the £603,800 it needs to finalise plans so that it can bid for a further grant of £10.75million.
The ambitious redevelopment will centre around a new 1950s town and farm, filled with objects and buildings donated by local people to tell their story.
There will also be a therapeutic day centre for people living with dementia in a block of Aged Miner’s Homes, as well as overnight accommodation in museum exhibits.
Museum bosses expect the new developments to attract around 100,000 more people to the region and create 95 jobs, as well as 50 opportunities for apprentices.
The development of the 1950s will ensure Beamish tells the story of a period still in living memory – just as was the case when the museum first opened in the 1970s. Visitors will be able to explore the world of their grandparents – and note the huge changes to people’s lives in this decade of recovery – including the NHS, nationalisation of industry, social housing, leisure time/holidays, cinema/film, shopping/fashion and motor vehicles.
“We are absolutely jumping for joy at this incredible news and to be honest we are all a bit stunned and can hardly believe it,” Beamish director Richard Evans said. “The team here have worked so hard for the past four years developing this Remaking Beamish project – and I am so proud of what they have achieved together.”
The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Ivor Crowther added: “Today’s HLF support means these visionary plans, that mark the start of an incredible 12 year journey for Beamish, can now get fully underway. Plans include new exhibits; vastly improved and innovative access to the collections and the creation of a complete 1950s town – all of which will not only open a door to the North East’s past but also drastically increase visitor numbers and boost the Museum’s income making it financially secure for the future.”
Sunderland City Council recently agreed, along with Durham County Council, to guarantee a £4.5million match-funding reserve, which is needed to apply for the funding.