Believe it or not the first time I ever went to Beamish was when I was 18 years old but it was only when I went back this year that I was truly able to appreciate it for what it was, a wonderful open air museum that shows you what life was like back in the 1800s and 1900s. For me who is absolutely fascinated with history I found it a lovely family day out.
I went with my brother, sister in law and their two children, luckily for us we already had yearly passes so we were able to jump the queue that stretched right out of the door and up the stairs.
When coming through the main entrance you are greeted with a long winding pathway that leads to a roadside where trams and old buses run every 20 minutes that will take you to a variety of places throughout Beamish.
Pockerley Waggonway/Old Hall~~~~~~~
Getting on the tram the first destination you come too is the Old Hall which was apparently already there before Beamish was constructed and showed you what life was like in the 1800s for the house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and was originally built to house the squire, his family and their servants. I found this area a bit boring there wasn't much to do but look about the house and kids did get a bit restless but the items within the house were interesting and I enjoyed looking about, we did not manage to get to go on the train.
Next on the map was the town and to be honest this is my favourite place in the whole of Beamish, resembling a mini Edwardian town it is home to a sweet shop (complete with authentic sweets), a dentist, a old style shop, the bank with vault, a pub (which is always important) and places to eat as well, although these are extremely expensive so I find it's better to bring a pack lunch with you and eat it within the park in the town where in the bandstand a band plays.
A little farther up for the children is a set of shuggy boats and a carousel that cost £1.50 per person but the kids loved them and we were lucky not to hit a queue when we had a go.
As we continued our journey we found ourselves within the pit village which showed us what life was like in the early 1900s, the first place we came to was the old school house that had 4 classrooms in that we all loved and showed us how school was years ago which we all had to smile about especially at the old photo hidden in one of the draws.
We skipped out the church and headed for the small pitmans cottages across the way that each housed 4 staff and showed us 4 different crafts for the early 1900s that included making bread, and making rugs out of old rags which is the one I found the most interesting.
Also in the village was an old style pit which you could actually go down, I found this quite claustrophobic as it was so small I really don't know how people managed to work down there for 12 hours a day! but the guides were informative and give a good insight to pit life, I don't know if I could of lived like that though!
Across from the pit village was home farm which was a small area complete with a variety of animals including cows, horses, chickens and a random sheep dog that kept popping up once in a while. I was not to fond of this area as the horse were kept in very small pens and looked quite unhappy and everything just seemed so tiny. I didn't stay very long as the smell was a bit overpowering but that might be because it was a hot day.
Back at the entrance you can find a souvenir shop so you can find all the treasures from the day and it's quite reasonably priced as well, I found myself buying more than I intended to.
You can find Beamish near Durham and is well sign posted from the A1M Junction 63 but you can get there via a few different methods, you can drive which the postcode is DH9 ORG, there is a bus that goes straight to gates of Beamish (No 8 they run every 30 minutes) and you can catch that from Sunderland Interchange bus station. You can get the train to Newcastle Central Station and from there the No 28/28A (runs every 30 minutes) will take you straight to the gates of Beamish. Also if your coming from Durham city centre the No 128 provides a direct link which again runs every 30 minutes.
The Final Word~~~~~~
This is a wonderful day out for all the family and there is plenty to do because before we knew it, it was almost closing time. It costs about £15.00 for an adult and £10.00 for a child but that is a yearly pass so you do get your money's worth out of the ticket, although having said that it can get boring keep going as once you've seen it there's not much else to do.
I would definitely go for a trip though if you haven't been already it's wonderful.
Beamish is certainly the place where the past comes to life. This open air museum recreates life in the North of England in the early 1800s and 1900s in an entertaining way for visitors of all ages. Museum staff are dressed in period costumes and all act out the parts they are playing and are very friendly and entertaining and this certainly appeals to the younger members of the family, as they are encouraged to ask questions and take part as much as possible. The museum is set in acres of beautiful countryside and the whole area is superbly maintained and you will find it hard to fault. It is not hard to see why they were winners of the British Museum of the Year and the European Museum of the Year Awards. I will now try to describe some areas of the museum for you, but in no way is this a comprehensive list. THE MANOR HOUSE Pockerley Manor house has been inhabited for over 1000 years and the house itself and the grounds are all shown as they would be in the 1820s. THE TOWN This shows a typical street of the early 1900s and here you will find houses and shops of that era, including sweet shops (samples are given out), the bank, the Pub, solicitors and the printing works. My favourite was the dentist?s surgery and my son was allowed to have his photograph taken in the gruesome looking chair with the dentist holding up a selection of implements that would have been used at the time (not for the faint hearted). THE COLLIERY VILLAGE This is where you can sample a piece of ?pit? life, by visiting the drift mine, engine works, Methodist chapel and the pit cottages and gardens. The village school even allows you to take part in a lesson, using chalk and a board. HOME FARM Unfortunately, during our visit, this area was out of bounds due to the foot and mouth outbreak but staff are hoping that it will be able to open again soon. THE RAILWAY STATION Here you will find the signal box, good
s shed and the station building. There is even a waiting room that is for ladies only. THE RAILWAY Take a ride on the 1825 railway, which I have to say is a very unique experience. You travel in 1825 railway carriages and are pulled along by a replica of the ?Locomotion?. TRAMS AND BUSES The tramway runs around the entire area of the museum (well over a mile) and the tram stops can be found at most of the main areas of the museum. It is an excellent way to get from one area to another but take time to travel the whole distance. There are also horse drawn buses that visitors can ride. The museum is open throughout the year and is split in to a summer season and a winter season. SUMMER SEASON ? operates from early April until late October, with opening times from 10am until 5pm. During this time all areas and facilities are open. AMISSION CHARGES DURING SUMMER are: Adults £12.00 Children £6.00 (5-16 years) O.A.P.s £9.00 Children under 5 are admitted free. Group discounts are also available, so check their website or telephone for more details. WINTER SEASON ? the museum is centred on the Town and tramway only with all other areas being shut. The museum is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. It remains closed from 10th December until after the New Year. Winter season admission charges are consequently reduced. ADMISSION CHARGES DURING WINTER are: All tickets are £4.00 with children under 5 years still being admitted free. Once paid all your bus and tram rides are free and there are no more hidden charges, except for the Victorian Fairground. THE BEAMISH CLUB If you live locally you can join the Beamish club, which is a membership scheme which is open exclusively for people of the North East of England. For an annual subscription charge of £15.00 (£12.00 if over 60), you can visit Beamish as often as you like for free. Also on
each trip there you can bring up to 2 guests at half price. The criteria is that you live either in Durham, Cleveland, Northumberland, Tees Valley or Tyne and Wear. You need to complete an application form, which you can get in advance by telephoning them or writing to them, or you can complete one on the day of your visit. REFRESHMENTS AND FACILITIES AVAILABLE There are several places to eat and drink, including a working period pub in the Town, and cafes situated throughout the museum. There are also souvenir shops, picnic areas, baby changing facilities, toilets in most areas (all include disabled access) and free car parking (disabled parking included). Dogs are permitted at the museum but must be kept on a lead at all times. HOW TO GET THERE Beamish is situated in County Durham, 12 miles from the city of Durham and 8 miles from Newcastle. The museum is well signposted all along the main roads and there is good public transport from all the major towns and cities in the area. More detailed instructions and maps can be found on the website. In my opinion this is a wonderful day out, even if you are not very interested in history. My only piece of advise is that you should make sure that you get there early as the time seems to fly by and you certainly need the whole day to get around the entire museum. UPDATED 22/02/02 Just to let you know that the farm is now fully re-opened after the foot and mouth crisis and it is a wonderful attraction especially for the younger children. Thank you for reading and hope you have an enjoyable day out.