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Beamish North of England Open Air Museum

A ‘living museum’ at Beamish rides the waves of interest in industrial heritage in the 1970s. [78]

1976 26 mins

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A world away from Disney, a theme park of a different kind takes shape in County Durham. The inspirational director Frank Atkinson is creating the Beamish open-air museum, a theatre of memory for the late industrial society in North East England. The bricolage of reconstructed buildings and artefacts on site, all genuine and rooted in the region, include a colliery village (without the coal dust), an electric tramway and Rowley’s abandoned railway station.

This programme in the Tyne Tees Television series ‘Treasures in Store’ was first broadcast on 16 March 1976. Atkinson’s pioneering British venture was inspired by open-air museums at Skansen in Sweden and Lillehammer in Norway that he first visited in the 1950s. The opening ‘Museum in the Making’ display at Beamish in 1971 attracted 50,000 visitors, a national record prior to the British Museum’s Tutankhamun exhibition.