First look at new 1950s features at the Beamish Museum


CROWDS witnessed the launch of a new era at the Beamish Museum this weekend.

The award-winning tourist attraction’s latest 1950s period features take a nostalgic look back at the post-war era when rationing ended and rock ‘n’ roll began.

Front Street has breathed new life into businesses once a familiar sight in the North East.

The time-conscious team at Beamish have lovingly restored John’s Café, Middleton’s Quality Fish and Chips, Elizabeth’s Hairdresser’s and recreated the 1950s home of North East artist Norman Cornish.

Visitors can enjoy ice cream and fish and chips, get a 1950s hairstyle and try their hand at drawing while learning about Norman and the Spennymoor Settlement.

Rhiannon Hiles Rhiannon Hiles, Chief Executive of Beamish, said: “We are extremely proud of the work we do with our communities across the region and it has been very special to meet and listen to the people who have helped shape the spaces and the stories that will tell us within the new terrace.

“Seeing the families and friends of those who lived and worked in the original spaces was a moving and very special moment.

“We could not have created these new exhibits at Beamish without them, and without the continued support of our funders and partners, to whom we extend our sincere thanks.”

During the week-long opening celebrations in February, visitors can experience the new exhibits and participate in activities such as 1950s games and inspiration from Norman Cornish, and take part in a sketch tour around the museum.

The terrace, in the town of Beamish in the 1950s, is part of the £20million Remaking Beamish project.

Here’s what visitors can expect at the 1950s Terrace

The Northern Echo: Elizabeth's Hairdressers Photo: SARAH CALDECOTTElizabeth’s hairdressers Photo: SARAH CALDECOTT

No. 1 Front Street: Elizabeth’s Hairdresser’s

Visitors will be able to watch the play getting a 1950s hairstyle and have their photo taken under the Beamish Collection hair dryers.

Elizabeth’s is based out of a terraced store in Bow Street in Middlesbrough.

Betty and Ian Macpherson owned the original shop at the end of the terrace in Middlesbrough, then called Elizabeth’s Hair Fashions, for 37 years.

Beamish staff worked with the couple, and although they did not own the shop in the 1950s, their memories of the decade help shape the stories Beamish tells in the exhibit.

Betty said: “The shop has been a huge part of our lives for over 37 years and to see it recreated is very, very special to us.

“The fact that it has been recreated as a 1950s hair salon is all the more special as I was born in 1951 and some of my earliest memories are going to salons like this with my mum when I I was a little girl and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a hairdresser.

“The recreation of our little shop in Beamish is truly amazing and the idea that it will be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and be there for generations to come is overwhelming.

“Seeing the building recreated so authentically, even the exterior colors are the same, brought back so many memories for the many guests, many of whom have become lifelong friends and many of whom are sadly no longer with us.

“It’s been wonderful to think about everyone again.

“We feel very privileged to be part of something so special, so thank you Beamish.”

The Northern Echo: John Cornish son of artist Norman inside his family home Photo: SARAH CALDECOTTJohn Cornish son of artist Norman inside his family home Photo: SARAH CALDECOTT

No. 2 Front Street: Norman Cornish House

Norman Cornish’s home has been recreated, telling the story of Norman’s family on the recreation of the Bishop’s Close Street home in Spennymoor, including his children Ann Thornton, now 72, and John, 65 years.

Norman, then a miner, and his family lived in the original house from 1953 to 1967 and John was born there.

Norman, who died in 2014, had donated items from his home and his last studio in Beamish.

Norman was part of the Spennymoor Settlement which also nurtured the talent of artists Tom McGuinness, Bob Heslop and Bert Dees, and playwright Sid Chaplin, among others.

On the floor of the exhibition there is an art space accessible by elevator, where visitors and groups can participate in artistic activities.

A grant of £10,000 was provided by The Banks Group from its Banks Community Fund to support the arts space.

Norman’s children, Ann, from Old Eldon, Shildon and John, from Chester-le-Street, say they are delighted that Beamish is recreating their family home.

Ann and John said, in a statement on their own: “The decade of the 1950s was a very important time in our father’s life.

“Although he had a young family to support by working at the local colliery, he was still able to forge a growing reputation as an artist.

“We are delighted that thousands of visitors to the museum can see how he was able to produce such incredible works of art in the modest setting of a mine.

“We had a wonderful childhood growing up in this house and so we are very happy and lucky to be able to experience it again.”

The Echo of the North: Inside John's Image: SARAH CALDECOTTInside John’s photo: SARAH CALDECOTT

No.3 Front Street: John’s Cafe

Visitors can enjoy ice cream and other traditional treats while listening to tunes from the 1950s on the jukebox at John’s Café, a recreation of the popular Wingate café in County Durham.

The exhibit features original elements of John’s Café, popular with young people in the 1950s.

The cafe was owned by Giovanni Baptista Parisella, locally known as John, of Italian descent.

The menu will include cafe-made ice cream, as well as other 1950s favorites, including macaroni and cheese.

John’s daughter, Maria Ebblewhite, 60, from Wingate, said: ‘I think everyone knows how super excited I am about it all, I’m now at the stage of losing sleep over it. , I can’t believe this is happening.

“I think I’m going to burst with pride, excitement and the emotional side of it all is something else.

“To think that my parents’ business will live forever in a museum is another thing, and that it will be visited not only by people from this country, but also from afar – who would have thought?

“Dad would be so proud.”

The Northern Echo: Fryer Jim Musgrove inside Quality Fish and Chips in Middleton Photo: SARAH CALDECOTTJim Musgrove deep fryer inside Quality Fish and Chips in Middleton Photo: SARAH CALDECOTT

No. 4 Front Street: Quality Fish and Chips from Middleton

A fried fish shop in Middleton St George, near Darlington, has been replicated to serve this popular 1950s food.

Doreen Middleton had owned the shop since 1952 and the original range was donated to Beamish and used to inspire the design of the replica that the museum will use.

Beamish worked with the community of Middleton St George to create a 1950s-style journal on specially printed paper that will wrap the fish and chips.

Doreen died in 2008, aged 86, and Beamish worked with her daughter Rozanne Hall to recreate Middleton’s in Beamish.

Rozanne, in her 70s and from North Yorkshire, said: ‘I’m devastated that my mum’s fish and chip shop is back in business, it’s great that it’s gone to Beamish, good for history. Great job done, looks great.

“I hope my mother would be delighted that she was recognized for all her hard work. She was a humble, modest, generous, hardworking person and could hold her own.

“It’s such a reward that they tell Beamish about his life.

“It’s great how Beamish has involved us every step of the way and has included a huge amount of behind the scenes work and education with the community and school of Middleton St George.

“I’m so glad my mom’s fish and chips are here.

“I’m so grateful to Beamish and can’t wait to try the fish and chips.”

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