Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, will create new jobs and extra attractions thanks to a £10.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Described as “a major milestone in Beamish’s history”, the grant will fund a four-year project called ‘Remaking Beamish’ and represents the largest single investment ever seen at the County Durham museum.
Work will start this winter and will see additions to the existing attractions at Beamish, which will remain open for visitors throughout.
The centrepiece will be a reconstructed 1950s Town – meaning that alongside existing attractions depicting life in the early 19th and 20th centuries, Beamish will once again include a period within living memory.
Plans include a fully operational cinema – moved brick by brick from Sunderland – as well as examples of shops and housing from across the north east region.
The home and studio of Spennymoor artist Norman Cornish will be replicated, and a block of Aged Miners’ Homes will be copied to create a pioneering centre for older people, including those living with dementia.
Beamish will also expand the stories that it already tells from the early 19th century as part of the project – including exhibits for people to stay overnight in the museum.
Nearly 100 new jobs will be created alongside more than 1,000 training opportunities, including 50 apprenticeships.
Beamish attracts almost 700,000 visitors every year and by 2020 this number is expected to increase further, with 100,000 more tourists attracted to the region.
Richard Evans, Beamish’s director, said: “The project is the result of years of careful planning – with staff and volunteers working alongside people from across the north east so we can tell their story.
“This is the most ambitious project we’ve ever undertaken – building on our successful growth in recent years – so we can all achieve even more in the future.”
Evans is pictured right with Ivor Crowther (left), head of HLF North East, at the museum.