Beamish Museum staff with a collection of 1950s objects (c) Beamish Museum

Local residents vote on museum's 1950s shop

Nicola Sullivan, 31.08.2016
£17m living history project will see Beamish Museum build a 1950s town
Beamish Museum is asking the public to vote on the type of shop that will be built its 1950s town. 

An end-of-terrace shop in Bow Street, Middlesbrough will be recreated as part of the £17m project Remaking Beamish, which will explore life during the 1950s.

Middlesbrough residents will get to vote on whether they want the shop to be a hairdresser, hold electrical goods or operate as a toy shop/dolls’ hospital.
“We went through the directories about what kinds of shops were around at the time. We know that there were loads of hairdressers and electrical shops. Another shop type we have gone for is a toy shop/dolls' hospital. We know there was a dolls’ hospital on Newport Street in Middlesbrough and various toy shops around that area,” said Lisa Peacock, the project officer for Remaking Beamish.

“I think this shows something very interesting about the 1950s. People wouldn’t throw things away they would actually get them fixed.”

Middlesbrough residents are casting their votes during a number of local events hosted by Beamish Museum, and the winning choice will be announced in October. The events include activities such as hairdressing and displays of 1950s objects from the museum’s collections, including hairdryers, combs, fuzzy-felt toys, silver-cross pushchairs, electric irons, TVs, Goblin hoovers and music boxes.

Beamish Museum is still trying to establish what was sold in the original Bow Street shop (circa 1895-1915) during the 1950s.
A search of local directories and indexes has been carried but the building doesn’t appear to have been registered. The Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough is the keeper of the only known photograph of the shop, which was taken in 1981 when it was operating as a hairdresser.
As well as recreating a 1950s town, the Remaking Beamish project will also see the extension of the museum’s Edwardian section. There are plans to build a coaching inn that people can stay the night in as part of storytelling around the Great North Road – the main highway between London and Scotland during the 1820s.

Industrial sites will be recreated, including a candle house and a windmill. Community outreach work for this part of the project will teach and share skills in crafts such as quilting, candlemaking and pottery.


The £17m Remaking Beamish project has received £10.75m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The rest of the money has been raised by the museum, which is also waiting to hear whether a second funding application to the HLF has been successful. The entire project is expected to be complete in five or six years.