There is a lot of celebrating going on at Beamish, the Living Museum of the North, following the announcement that the museum had received a £10.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This successful bid will enable significant strides forward with the ‘Remaking Beamish’ initiative, primarily involving the creation of a 1950s themed area within the grounds of the massive open air museum site.
The whole scheme, costing £18 million, is expected to take four years with initial construction works set to begin this winter, now that the bid for funding has been approved. The centrepiece will be the 1950s town, featuring various buildings moved from their previous surroundings – including a working cinema. A pioneering home for aged miners will also be created, including provisions for those with dementia. Another major development will see 1950s pre-fab housing used to offer overnight accommodation, reflecting the fact that Beamish is becoming far too big to appreciate in a one day visit!
Whilst the trams themselves are not expected to benefit directly from the expansion plans and the Lottery grant, it is anticipated that the museum will grow considerably which should lead to even higher visitor numbers, and this could hopefully enable thoughts turning to expanding the working tram fleet, with a number of vehicles currently stored awaiting restoration. The 1950s area may well provide an excuse for Sheffield 513, presently on loan to the East Anglia Transport Museum as it was previously considered too modern for the museum’s period image, to return home. In the meantime, those interested in other forms of transport can look forward to a regular trolleybus service joining the trams and buses which already carry visitors around the site.
Our congratulations to all at Beamish Museum, especially those involved in submitting the Heritage Lottery bid, and we look forward to seeing that money being well spent!