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Laying the foundations

Laying the foundations

A few years ago, we revealed that our aged miners’ homes in Marsden Road in South Shields were to be replicated as part of a new 1950s town planned by Beamish Museum.

We are delighted to report that the foundations for the homes are now set up to be laid in early 2020 as the town begins to take shape at the ‘Living Museum of the North’.

Michelle Kindleysides, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Beamish, and Connor Emerson, the Museum’s Engagement Development Officer, recently visited our Bulmer House sheltered housing scheme in South Shields to update residents on this exciting project.

They told residents that a 1950s welfare hall and community centre had already opened at Beamish and outlined the work which would be going on until the new 1950s town is complete in 2022. This includes:

  • John’s Café – copied from a café ran by an Italian family in Wingate, this will include wood panel booths and a jukebox playing songs from the 50s.
  • Fish and chip shop – using a 1950s gas-fired range from Middleton St George, near Darlington, this will serve authentic fish and chips to visitors.
  • 33 Bishops Close Street, Bishop Auckland – the home of artist Norman Cornish is to be replicated, displaying his work.
  • Cinema – a 1950s cinema in Ryhope is being dismantled and put back together, brick-by-brick to play movies from the era.
  • Red Houses Estate, Sunderland – 2 council homes from this part of Sunderland are to be replicated to show the modern semi-detached homes built by local authorities in the 1950s.
  • Police Houses – Two traditional police houses copied from buildings in Heworth are to be built to demonstrate the community policing of the 50s.
  • Bowling green and pavilion – A pavilion copied from the one at Billingham Bowls Club is to be built, alongside a full-size bowling green, which visitors will be able to play on.
  • Spainsfield Farm, Weardale – this farm abandoned in the 1950s has already been dismantled and is currently being rebuilt brick-by-brick at Beamish to demonstrate upland farming from the time.

From our perspective, the most exciting bit of all in the 1950s village will be the building of four aged miners’ homes which mirror the ones at Marsden Road. Two of the bungalows will be presented as domestic properties and two others will be used for Michelle’s Health and Wellbeing sessions, which are particularly aimed at people living with dementia, recovering from a stroke, or those with mental health issues.

As part of the visit, Michelle brought architects’ plans for the aged miners’ homes, as well as magazines from the 1950s so our residents could advise, using their own experiences, of how the homes could be furnished.

We are hoping to be able to take some of our residents to Beamish this year to view the progress on the 1950s town and we will keep you updated via our normal communications channels.