Where: Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham DH9 0RG
£: Admission costs £19 for adults, £14 for seniors and students, £11 for children (aged 5 – 16 years), and children under 5 years go free. Family tickets are also available.
What is it?
It’s time to practise those 50s hairdos and dust off your petticoats, for Beamish’s Festival of 50s, which takes place from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July. The fabulous 50s will be celebrated in style at the County Durham museum, with fairground stalls, live music, costumes, and 50s-inspired food and drink.
On all four days of the festival, visitors will be able to dance along to the band Hop, Skiffle and Jump, and see the change in fashion, looking at everyday dress and design throughout the decade. There’ll be a 50s toy shop, bowls, a telephone exchange, and visitors will be able to mark the 1953 Coronation by helping to decorate the Coronation float. Sample the delights of macaroni cheese, oxtail soup and crisps, and 1950s milkshakes.
Durham Amateur Football Trust will be bringing along some football memorabilia and talking to visitors about amateur football in the 50s. Who will be crowned Beamish Champions 2017 in the football tournament on Sunday? There’s also the chance to spend time in a typical police station office with the North East Police History Society.
Have a go on the fun 50s fairground stalls (a small charge applies) and visit the NHS baby clinic. Also find out about the important introduction of NHS immunisations during the 50s for conditions such as TB and polio. Find out where young men were posted during National Service in the 50s, learn about their different roles and what was happening internationally. Share your own experiences in Beamish’s military exhibit.
Let the North East Film Archive take you on a journey through time, revealing the stunning North East coastline captured on film during the 1950s, in the Masonic Hall in The Town.
On Thursday and Friday, you can enjoy the more traditional dances from the decade at the fabulous 50s tea dance. During the weekend, you can treat yourself to a fantastic hairdo (a small charge applies) and go along in your 1950s finery, and enter the Mr and Mrs Beamish contest, or the Master and Miss Beamish competition for under 16s.
There will also be live music from The Troubleshooters on Saturday, The Baldy Holly Band will perform on Sunday, and the Beamish Choir will be singing hits from the 50s over the weekend. Pop across to Wanda, the 50s caravan, to try on clothing from the times, and don’t forget to pick up your props for a 50s holiday photograph (a small charge applies).
Beamish will also hosting two cinema evenings as part of the Festival of 50s. The museum will be showing Peter Sellers’ first film, Penny Points to Paradise (1951) on Friday 7th July, and the first Ealing comedy shot in colour, The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953) on Saturday 8th July, held in the Masonic Hall in The Town. Tickets cost £10 and include a bag of Beamish sweets and a bottle of aerated water from the chemist’s in The 1900s Town.
Beamish is about to start work building a 1950s Town, as part of the Remaking Beamish project, which has been awarded £10.9 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Beamish is planning to build a 1950s Town and upland farm, a Georgian coaching inn and other developments as part of the project.
The 1950s Town is set to include houses, shops, a police office and houses, cafe, cinema and recreation area. Aged miners’ homes will be a centre for people living with dementia and their families and carers. A 1950s trolleybus system and restored buses will transport visitors.
More info: www.beamish.org.uk