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Beamish Museum, the multi award winning Living Museum of the North tells the story of the people of North East England in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times. The open air museum offers something for all the family. Set on a 350 acre estate near the town of Stanley, County Durham, England. The museum’s guiding principle is to preserve an example of everyday life in urban and rural North East England at the climax of industrialisation in the early 20th century.
Utilising a mixture of trans located, original and replica buildings. The museum also displays a huge collection of artefacts, working vehicles and equipment as well as livestock. The experience is brought to life by costumed interpreters.
Why visit Beamish Museum?
There is lots to see and do at Beamish Museum. Following your first visit you can make unlimited visits to Beamish museum for free over the next 12 months. This offers excellent value for money, with numerous events going on throughout the year making each visit a unique one.
About Beamish Museum
The museum is split into the following areas and attractions:
The Beamish Museum Tramway is 1.5 miles long, with four passing loops. Since 1993 the line has made a complete circuit of the museum site forming an important element of the visitor transportation system. Visitors can catch the frequent trams to travel around the museum in either direction. There are a selection of single decker and double decker trams with the upper decks often open to the elements. It is the longest preserved tramway in the country.
The tramway represents the era of electric powered trams, which were being introduced to meet the needs of growing towns and cities across the North East from the late 1890’s, replacing earlier horse drawn systems.
Officially opened in 1985 the town area depicts Victorian buildings. A number of stores are located at the town where you can get an insight into the traditional goods and services. The town gives visitors an insight into how families lived and worked in the years leading up to the First World War.
Beamish Motor and Cycle Works
Opened in 1994 the Beamish Motor and Cycle Works reflects the custom nature of the early motor trade. The shop features a showroom to the front which exhibits a selection of the museums cars, motorcycles and bicycles. At the rear is a garage, accessed via the adjacent archway where costumed interpreters are available to answer any questions.
The Sun Inn
The Sun Inn opened in the town in 1985. Donated to the museum by the Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, it originally stood in Bondgate in Bishop Auckland. The pub is fully operational, and features both a front and rear bar. It makes a great place to hang out when visiting the museum in winter months when the fires are roaring.
Presented as the premises and living areas of various professionals, Ravensworth Terrace is a row of terraced houses. The majority of the two storey buildings feature display rooms on both floors with the front gardens and back yards also accessible. Located in the terrace are a dentist, solicitors and a selection of houses.
The Anfield Plain Co-op Store opened at Beamish museum in 1984. Inside visitors can see the grocery, drapery and hardware departments. A small amount of goods are sold to visitors, but the majority are for display only. One of the highlights of the store is the operational cash carrier system, utilising a Lamson-Paragon wooden ball design which was common in many large stores of the era. Be sure to ask one of the of the costumed interpreters for a demonstration. This cash carrier system was especially essential to Co-Ops, where customer’s dividends had to be logged.
Northern Daily Mail
The Northern Daily Mail building hosts a stationer’s shop on the left hand side, with both display items and a small number of gift items on public sale. Upstairs is a printers workshop, which would not produce the newspapers, but would instead print leaflets, posters and office stationary. Look out for the print press in action.
Visit the stables and carriage house situated behind the sweet shop, which represents a typical job master’s yard, which would have hired out horses and vehicles.
This building was moved from Anfield Plain to Beamish museum in the early 1980’s. It has been included to represent the new businesses which sprang up to cater for the growing middle classes. Visitors can purchase food from the bakery.
A very popular stop for all visitors to Beamish Museum is Jubilee Confectioners where you can see sweets being made using techniques from the time. After watching the sweets being made and sampling them you can purchase some to take home at the front of the store.
Visit the town bank where you can view some of the historic currency and don’t forget to take a look at the vaults in the basement.
Featuring the frontage from a former masonic hall sited in Park Terrace, Sunderland, the Beamish Town Masonic Hall opened in 2006.
Chemist and Photographers
The chemist and photographers include a dispensary, aerated waters section and a photography studio where visitors can have a picture taken in period costume.
At the East of the Town near the fairground is the Railway Station, depicting a typical small passenger and goods facility. Visitors can take a short ride on the train around the back of the town. The station is equipped with two footbridges, a wrought iron example to the east having come from Howden-le-Wear, and a cast iron example to the west sourced from Dunston.
Adjacent to the Railway station is an events field and fairground. At the fairground you can enjoy a ride on the Steam Gallopers, built in 1893 by pioneering engineer Frederick Savage. Have a go on the shuggy boats and test your aim at the coconut shy.
Generations of families worked down the North East’s pits, it was the industry on which the region’s prosperity was built. In 1913, the year of peak production, 165,246 men and boys worked in Durham’s 304 mines. In the 1900’s the industry was booming, production in the Great Northern Coalfield had peaked in 1913. Miners were relatively well paid (double that of agriculture, the next largest employer), but the work was dangerous. Children could be employed from age 12 (the school leaving age), but could not go underground until 14.
Mahogany Drift mine
Visitors can take a trip down The Mahogany Drift Mine which is original to Beamish, giving you an insight into the reality of life underground for miners. Visitor access into the mine shaft is by a very informative guided tour.
Opening in 2009, this exhibit gives an insight into the history of miners’ safety lamps in this recreation of a typical colliery lamp cabin.
Winding Engine House
See the 1855 built steam winding engine in action, the sole survivor of a type once common in the Northern Coalfield. The winding engine and tower were relocated to Beamish museum from Beamish Chophill Colliery. The winding engine was the source of power for hauling miners, equipment and coal up and down the shaft in a cage. The top of the shaft being in the adjacent heapstead, which encloses the frame holding the wheel around which the hoist cable travels.
Visit the wooden heapstead building, next to the winding engine house, where men, ponies and tubs were lowered into the mine. Tubs of Coal were brought up the shaft and were weighed on a weighbridge, then tipped onto jigging screens, which sifted the solid lumps from small particles and dust. The solid lumps of coal were then sent along the picking belt, where pickers, (workers incapable of mining), would separate out unwanted stone, wood and rubbish. Finally, the coal was tipped onto waiting railway wagons below, while the unwanted waste sent to the adjacent heap by an external conveyor.
The colliery features both a standard gauge railway representing how coal was transported to its onward destination and also a narrow gauge railway typically used by Edwardian collieries for internal purposes. The exhibit provides an insight into the railway network used by colliery owners. The Colliery Railway, hosts occasional shunting demonstrations by Coffee Pot No.1, Lewin and Edward Sholto. The Engine Shed houses Beamish museum’s colliery locomotives.
Set in the 1820’s, Pockerley has its own tenant farm and waggonway, visit Pockerley Old Hall, enjoy the beautiful terraced gardens and take a ride on the waggonway.
Pockerley Old Hall
Unlike most of the other buildings at Beamish, Pockerley Old Hall has always been there. It is mentioned in records dating back to the twelfth century and the existing building has solid defensive sections dating back to the mid fifteenth century, while the plain but elegant farm-house was built in the 1700’s. Guests can visit the ‘new house’, the home of the tenant farmer and the ‘old house’, which dates back to at least the 1440’s. Look out for traditional Georgian cooking and craft activities.
Children will love seeing the locomotives at Pockerley Waggonway, which is home to replica engines Locomotion No.1, the Steam Elephant and Puffing Billy. Guests can also take a steam train ride at the Waggonway, which tells the story of the birth of the railways.
This magnificent garden features Georgian-era plants, herbs and vegetables, which can often be sampled in recipes cooked in the hall.
Step back into the Georgian era, with its dry stone walling, riven oak fences, and traditional animal breeds. Take a walk through the picturesque Georgian landscape. The horse-powered whim gin would have been used to raise coal and men out of the mines. Look out for the gibbet looming in the distance.
St Helen’s Church
Relocated from Eston near Middlesbrough is the beautiful St Helen’s medieval church. The church was due to be demolished due to vandalism until it was saved and rebuilt at the Museum.
1900’s Pit Village
In this section of the museum, guests get to experience life in a recreation of a 1900’s Pit Village. This is a perfect example of a colliery community at the time of peak coal production in the North East.
Francis Street is a terrace of miners cottages which visitors can explore.
* No.2 is the Methodist family’s home
* No.3 live a family of Irish descent
* No.4 is home to a widow who lost her husband in a pit accident
* At the end of the terrace is the Colliery Pay Office
You often encounter delicious home-made bread baking at the communal bread oven in the back lane.
Davy’s Fried Fish Shop
At Davy’s Fried Fish Shop you can sample the delicious fish and chips, cooked the traditional way in coal-fired ranges using beef dripping.
Discover life in a traditional schoolroom and give the traditional playground games a try.
Hetton Silver Band Hall
Donated by former band members, guests can Discover the region’s proud colliery band heritage in this century-old band hall.
Pit Pony Stables
In 1913 the Durham coalfield had 22,000 ponies. Meet the pit ponies and discover their work down the region’s mines at the Pit Pony Stables.
Pit Hill Chapel is a typical early 1900’s Wesleyan Methodist chapel, hosting choirs, services and community events.
Sinkers’ Bait Cabin
Tuck into snacks from the Sinkers’ Bait Cabin. The sinkers were the men who sank new mine shafts and their huts acted as canteens and places to dry out.
Discover more about wartime family life in the farmhouse. Hear 1940’s music and news broadcasts on the wireless, and see “make do and mend” in action.
Orchard & Garden Cottages
These old labourers’ cottages have some new tenants. A family of evacuees in Orchard Cottage and Land Girls next door in Garden Cottage.
With their vital land work helping to save the nation from starvation, farms played an important role during the war. Look out for tractors, tools, animals, the farmers old car and the pill box, ready in case of attack.
Stop off for refreshments at the British Kitchen, based on the British Restaurants set up by the Government during the war.
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Beamish Museum, Regional Resource Centre, Beamish DH9 0RGOpening Times vary, see website for details
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