“Remaking Beamish” by Natasha Anson

Beamish is already a regional, if not national treasure. Its logo describes it as “ the “living museum of the north”. It is a country park of some 350 acres, originally funded by the local authorities of the north east, where selected properties, houses, shops and workplaces representing Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times, have been “re-constructed”, after being carefully removed from their past locations and lovingly rebuilt in a most receptive countryside. This much was well known to Probus members who welcomed Natasha as our speaker. Almost everyone present had visited Beamish and had seen for themselves what had been achieved over the past two decades. Her talk was a marketing presentation outlining on-going developments and plans designed to enhance the property and not least to swell the numbers of its visitors ( 750,000 last year and a target of 100,000 next!.

The scheme will incorporate: the design of a village to represent the Georgian heritage, with rebuilt typical period country cottage ; a 1950s cluster with a shop, pub, village hall ,and cinema; and a farmhouse to be re-constructed in the Spain Field farm area. The whole is projected over a 3-4 year time span , heavily funded by the National Lottery .

Most of the talk was about buildings and fitments, but Natasha stressed that this was intended to be a living environment. The collection of anecdotes, diaries, and family histories arising from and relating to the various dwellings and properties was most important. Thus, a key element of the project is an associated human and social research exercise. She pointed out that the volunteers who are stationed in each of the premises have to have good stories to tell.

This was a well presented story about a successful “business|” and its future.- and was much enjoyed.