Home Places to visit Beamish Museum’s Festival of the 50s

Beamish Museum’s Festival of the 50s

Traditional drinks at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum
Traditional drinks at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum

For vintage and rock ‘n’ roll lovers, July 11-14

Head to County Durham’s Beamish Museum for a trip back in time to the 1950s from Thursday, July 11 – and this year, there’s an extra special reason to celebrate.

The first building in the Beamish 1950s Town, the welfare hall, is now open as part of the £20million Remaking Beamish project, which has been awarded £10.9million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Community Events Officer Siân Fox said: “Activities in the hall will be in full swing, plus, on the Events Field, there will be 1950s live music, vehicles, try-on costume, food and drink and much more.”

Festival of the 50s fashion and Wanda the caravan! Picture; Beamish Museum
Festival of the 50s fashion and Wanda the caravan! Picture; Beamish Museum

Activities on all days

  • Food: Sample macaroni cheese, coronation chicken sandwiches, corned beef pie and Swiss roll, and milkshakes at the coffee shop in the Entrance Building. 
  • Durham North and South Trefoil Guild and Girlguiding’s guide camp in the Festival Garden on the Events Field.
  • Seed planting activity, Festival Garden.
  • See the 1950s kitchen and visit three living rooms, with the fashions of 1950, 1955 and 1959.
  • Have a go at planning a 1950s New Town.
  • Try on 1950s clothing, looking at everyday dress and design.
  • Pop across to Wanda, the 50s caravan, and have a go at traditional toys and games. 
  • Durham Amateur Football Trust will be looking at amateur cup finals at Wembley Stadium in the 1950s when County Durham teams won the FA Amateur Cup six times.
  • The North East Police History Society will be looking at crime and punishment, visit the police office and see the 50s uniforms and equipment.
  • Static vehicles, including a BBC broadcasting bus, Beamish’s 1950s bus and horticultural machinery on display.
  • Bowls, sponsored by Co-operative Funeral Care.
  • Meet the Beamish Telecom engineers and have a go on the switchboard.
  • Treat yourself to a 50s hairdo (small charge applies).
  • The North East Meccano Society will hold an exhibition in the Collections Study Room, next to Open Stores.
  • The Together Apart project will be looking at memories of growing up in the 1950s in Chilton and the surrounding area and showcasing a film they’ve created.
Get a vintage hairdo at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum
Get a vintage hairdo at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum

Thursday

  • In the entertainment marquee on the Events Field, enjoy traditional dances at the 50s tea dance, led by Graham Scarlett.
  • In the new 1950s welfare hall, visit a mother and baby clinic, where you can weigh the baby and get advice on feeding, layettes and bathing. 
Play bowls at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum
Play bowls at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum

Friday

  • Playwright Christina Castling will be talking about Category D houses. The 1951 County Development Plan looked at villages around small coal mines, categorised depending on their sustainability. Controversially, 114 Category D villages were identified and it was decided that these places should be left to decline and disappear.
  • Events Field, tea dance.
  • Dance to skiffle band Hop, Skiffle and Jump.
  • Friday Friendship Club and keep fit activity.
Police memorabilia at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum
Police memorabilia at the Festival of the 50s. Picture; Beamish Museum

Saturday

  • Dance to skiffle band Hop, Skiffle and Jump.
  • Live music from Miss Mary and the Mr Rights.
  • The Beamish Choir will be singing.
  • The Linsey School of Dance will be performing.
  • The Beamish Model Engineering Group railway will be running – hop aboard the miniature steam train. 

Sunday

  • Dance to skiffle band Hop, Skiffle and Jump. 
  • Live music from Davie T and the RazzBerries.
  • The Beamish Choir will be singing.

The Festival of 50s and the Meccano Exhibition are included in admission to Beamish and are free to Unlimited Pass holders. For more information, visit www.beamish.org.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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