The memories and anecdotes of people living a DAMHA sheltered housing scheme are to be used as part of a new 1950s town being created by Beamish Museum.
Several residents from Bulmer House recently visited the Museum to talk to staff about their experiences of the 1950s. Bulmer House is next to the 100-year-old aged miners’ homes in Marsden Road which are to be replicated, brick by brick, in the new attraction.
Information provided by the residents – Julie Coulson, Pam Raine, Audrey Hayley, Hilda McDiarmid, Marjory Calver and Diane Crawley – will now be used in the planning of the 1950s town, which will start to be built in 2017 and completed in 2020.
The meeting with the residents took place in a Beamish 1940s cottage, which contains many of the items that would still have been present in a typical 1950s home.
Pam Raine said: “It was nice to be able to talk about the 1950s in an environment that we all remember from our younger days.
“There was a piano in the living room, which many people had for entertainment, an old sewing machine you worked by hand and a range which did everything from warming your home, to toasting your bread and heating the iron and kettle.”
Michelle Kindleysides, Active Ageing Officer at Beamish Museum, added: “We could have created our 1950s town by looking at history books but we want it to be as authentic as possible and the best way of doing this is through talking to lots of people about what life actually was like in the North East during this period.
“We were delighted to be able to show the ladies from Bulmer the plans for the new town, including where the aged miners’ homes will be situated and it was very interesting listening to their stories from the 1950s.
“We will now be taking their experiences, along with those of other groups we have held similar sessions with, and using them in the planning and implementation of the town.”
Beamish Museum considered a number of miners’ cottages across the region before choosing to replicate the ones owned by DAMHA in Marsden Road.
The aim is effectively re-build the homes in the same style and then to furnish them in the style of the 1950s. At least one of these houses will be used as a dedicated space for the work the Beamish has been developing for groups of older people and people affected by dementia in the community.