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Banks Group Takes a Seat in Beamish Museum’s 1950s Cinema

Property development and energy company the Banks Group has become the

first business to sponsor a seat in the 1950s cinema being recreated at

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North.

The County Durham open air museum has built a recreation of the Grand,

from Ryhope in Sunderland as part of its 1950s Town.

And individuals and businesses are now being given the unique

opportunity to sponsor a cinema seat as part of Beamish's Take a Seat


Those who do Take a Seat receive a brass plaque on the back of the seat

with their name engraved on it, as well as an invitation to a special

celebration event.

Businesses such as the Banks Group who sponsor a cinema seat will also

have the opportunity to have their logo displayed on screen in the

rolling credits following a newsreel or film as an extra thank you.

Liz Peart, Partnerships Officer at Beamish Museum, said: “We are

delighted that the Banks Group is the first business to be taking a seat

in our 1950s cinema and would like to thank them for their ongoing and

very generous support of the museum and particularly our Remaking

Beamish project.”

Banks is a long-term supporter of Beamish, with a £10,000 grant from the

Banks Community Fund supporting the museum’s recreation of the

celebrated North East artist Norman Cornish’s Spennymoor home, and a

£20,000 grant aiding the construction of a replica of the Coundon and

Leeholme Community Centre.

Kate Culverhouse, community relations manager at the Banks Group, added:

“By bringing history to life through outstanding projects like the 1950s

cinema, Beamish is safeguarding and strengthening links to the North

East’s unique history and heritage.

"It’s a real jewel in the region’s tourism offering, and as a fellow

County Durham-based business, we’re proud to be continuing our long-term

support for its fantastic work.”

Prior to the Banks Group becoming the first business to sponsor a seat,

the opportunity had already been taken up by a number of individuals,

many of whom have personal or family connections to the original cinema.

Seat sponsorship is being sold on a first come, first served basis from

the museum’s online shop, sponsorship is subject to terms and

conditions. Individual seat sponsorship is £295, with a package

available for businesses priced at £5,000 which includes acknowledgement

of the sponsorship on screen. Visit for more


The Grand was a working cinema from its opening in 1913 and was hugely

popular in its heyday in the 1950s, regularly selling out all its seats.

A sharp decline in cinema visits in the 1960s, due largely to the

popularity and availability of television sets, meant that the cinema

ceased trading and became a bingo hall. The Grand was donated to the

museum by Angela and Gary Hepple.

In 2019, the original building underwent a full architectural survey to

assess which materials were suitable for salvage and re-use and a record

made of any items that could not be saved. In 2020, the Grand was

dismantled, with re-usable parts and features incorporated into The

1950s Town cinema.

Beamish Museum’s recreation of the Grand is set to include options of

feature length films at set times as well as showing archive footage,

shorts and news during the day, plus potential for occasional evening

screenings of 1950s classic films. Visitors will also be able to take a

look behind the scenes at the projection room and learn about the

skilled role of the projectionist.

The cinema is being built as part of the Remaking Beamish project, the

biggest development in the museum’s history which includes a 1950s Town,

1950s Spain’s Field Farm and expansion of the Georgian landscape,

including self-catering accommodation and a Drovers Tavern and pottery.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish

project was awarded £11.8million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

For more information about Beamish Museum, visit


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