Work Gets Underway on Beamish Museum's 1950s Cinema and Shops

Construction has started on the 1950s cinema, toy and electrical shops as part of the Remaking Beamish project, the biggest development in the museum's history. Working alongside SPACE on this project, North East firm, Brims Construction, have made progress on-site. This comes as work nears completion on the 1950s semi-detached houses, police houses and office, bowling pavilion and green, and aged miners' homes, which are due to open this summer.

The museum is recreating the Grand Cinema from Ryhope in Sunderland. Donated by Angela and Gary Hepple, the cinema will incorporate as many elements and features as possible from the original building. The cinema will showcase short and feature-length films, providing visitors with a unique 1950s cinematic experience.

Also being built on the 1950s Town's Front Street terrace is a toy shop and electrical shop where visitors will be able to discover popular toys and electronics from the decade.

The toy shop will be named after the popular Romer Parrish toy shop and newsagent in Middlesbrough, as voted for by the people of Teesside, while the electrical shop will be named after North East engineer Dr Alan Reece, founder of the Reece Foundation.

A Reece Ltd Radio and Electrical Services, will include a showroom featuring the latest 1950s technology and domestic appliances. The exhibit, which has received a £100,000 grant from the Reece Foundation, will have a repair workshop to help inspire the next generation of engineers as part of our STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) projects. 

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish's Chief Executive, said: "We're very excited to be starting work on The Grand Cinema, Romer Parrish toy shop and A Reece Ltd electrical shop and workshop in our wonderful 1950s Town. We can't wait to welcome visitors to experience a trip to the cinema and discover popular toys and the latest in 1950s technology in the shops."

"Our Remaking Beamish exhibits that have already opened are proving very popular with visitors. There is so much to look forward to at the museum, with the completion of our 1950s Town and work on the expansion of our Georgian area, including self-catering cottages and a tavern, which will be starting soon. This is a very exciting time for the museum, and we are extremely grateful to our visitors, staff, volunteers, funders and partners for their support."

Among those who visited Beamish to see work getting underway was Bill Mather, who was born in Ryhope and was a trainee projectionist at The Grand cinema between 1950 and 1955. He said: "I'm really looking forward to the cinema being completed. You're going to have thousands of people who have never seen a cinema of the 50s, who are going to be coming just to see what it's like. They're going to feel as if they are in magic land in my opinion."

Helen Featherstone, Director of England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "We are excited to see another element of the Remaking Beamish project get underway, which has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players. It is fantastic to think our investment will help to showcase the unique retail and cinema heritage of the North East by providing visitors with captivating, immersive experiences, which will also inspire young people through the dedicated learning activities."

Construction work of the cinema and shops is being carried out by felllow North East firm, Brims Construction.

The Remaking Beamish project will also expand the museum's Georgian area, featuring overnight accommodation in self-catering cottages, a Drovers' Tavern, pottery and toll house. Our team at SPACE are also responsible for these associated period structures as well as the landscaping within the "Georgian landscape." 

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project was awarded £ 10.9 million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016. The project has also been supported by the Friends of Beamish.

Be sure to watch for more updates about this great North-East heritage project. To find out more about Beamish, including updates on the Remaking Beamish project, visit