Building work has started on the £18 million expansion of Beamish, The Living Museum of the North – the biggest project in its 47-year history.
Called Remaking Beamish, the project will see the creation of more than 30 new exhibits, including a 1950s Town, Farm and a Georgian coaching inn, where visitors can stay overnight.
The project has been awarded £10.9 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and an extra 100,000 tourists are expected to be attracted to the region.
The museum will remain open throughout the building programme.
The 1950s Town will feature a cinema, community centre, homes, shops, cafe, bowling green and fish-and-chip shop.
Aged miners’ homes will provide a dedicated centre for older people, including those living with dementia.
The expansion of the 1820s Landscape will include a coaching inn where visitors can stay overnight and a recreation of murdered Joe the Quilter’s cottage.
A trolleybus system and restored buses will transport visitors, while a Northern General bus depot will support Beamish’s work to pass on heritage engineering skills.
Buildings from across the region, including County Durham, Tyneside, Wearside, Teesside and Northumberland, will be moved, such as the farm and cinema, or replicated.
Richard Evans, Beamish’s director, said: “We are really excited to be starting this major project, creating new ways for visitors to experience Beamish and learn more about everyday life in the North East of England through time.
“This is the largest project we have ever undertaken – so this is a major milestone in the history of Beamish. We are looking forward to the future with great optimism as we continue to grow and attract even more visitors to our region.”
Pictured: Ivor Crowther (left), head of Heritage Lottery Fund NE, with museum director Richard Evans.