Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG.
Tel: 0191 370 4000 - Fax: 0191 370 4001. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Prices may differ from that shown
We visited Beamish a couple of weeks ago when we were on holiday in Yorkshire. I had visited with my parents when I was younger and we had wanted to go last year when we were up that way however it was still a two hour drive so we didn't end up going. Therefore, when we were staying in Whitby we decided a visit was essential!
==What is Beamish?==
Beamish is an open air museum in Yorkshire. It focuses on the lives of people living in the North East of England during Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian times.
==Where is it and how do you get there?==
Beamish is in County Durham. 12 miles away from Durham and 8 miles away from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
If driving, the postcode for sat nav's is DH9 0RG. The museum is very well signposted from major roads including the A1 and the A68.
In addition to this there is a variety of buses that run directly to and from the museum. These include services from Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.
It is worth noting that if you travel on any North East bus you get 25% off of any standard admission ticket which is a great saving.
==Arriving at Beamish==
We drove to Beamish and because my sisters partner seems to have a fear of sat navs we just used the brown signs. It was really easy to find and we had no problems whatsoever. There were plenty of brown signs that we followed.
Arriving at Beamish there was a massive car park so I imagine even parking on even a very busy day is not a problem. When we went the car park was probably only about 5% full as we went on a Thursday in May, we arrived quite early but when we left the car park was probably about 3 times as full.
It is very easy to find the admissions office, you walk down a pathway and in through modern glass automatic doors. There are then numerous staff waiting to sort you out with tickets. There was no queue so we went straight through. The boy here was very polite, he took our names and addresses and offered us a guidebook. He then took our payment and gave us our tickets. I was pleased to see that the tickets were actually an annual pass. Initially I had thought the museum was quite expensive for one day but it is really good value as you can return as many times as you like for a year. However, it's quite unlikely I will be returning to Yorkshire in the next twelve months so maybe it would be nice if you had the option for buying just a single day ticket.
Beamish is an open air museum. This means that the attraction is primarily outdoors however most of the attractions are actually indoors. Basically, Beamish is just like a small town. You walk down the roads and can go into the bank, shops, houses etc.
After leaving the ticket office we walked down a hill and at the bottom were greeted by two members of staff dressed in traditional clothing. They asked us if we would like to get the tram down to the town and said that if we did then it would be along in five minutes. The tram is one of the things I remember about going when I was younger so we waited for the tram and sure enough it arrived just a few minutes later. There were quite a few people waiting for the tram at this point, possibly around 40 as I think it was the first tram of the day. There was no queue formed so I did worry a bit about everyone being able to fit on but we all did. Inside the tram there are long wooden benches either side to sit aswell as straps on the roof for those standing. Our party all managed to find a seat but my partner did give his up for a disabled lad so he did stand. There were about five other people standing in our carriage too so it was quite full. We enjoyed the tram ride down to the town and it is certainly a must if you visit Beamish!
When we got to the town there were numerous places to go. As there were a number of us getting off of the tram we decided to go in a different direction to everyone else so that places were less busy when we visited them.
The first place we visited was the bank. I really loved this part of Beamish and found it so interesting to see exactly how a bank would have been. There was a member of staff in there who was 'working' behind the desk, counting money and doing sums etc. He had a vast amount of knowledge about the bank and its history which was interesting. In addition to the main part of the bank you can also go downstairs to see the vaults. I've always been a little bit intrigued by bank vaults, wondering what exactly they were so I found this really interesting!
We then walked up the High Street of the town. There were lots of small old fashioned shops to look in. One of the more interactive shops was the sweet shop. Here you can buy old fashioned sweets in quarters and also try out some traditional sweets. You can also see the kitchen where there were numerous staff making sweets how they would have been made. Sweet prices in here are reasonable, a bag costs either 99p or £1.25 (sorry I cant remember which!) and this provides a good sized portion. They are good quality sweets too.
Across the road you have the more general shops such as grocery shops and hardware shops. I loved these shops as there was so many things to look at. A few things are available to buy here but the main point of these shops is to show visitors what the shop would have been like in those days. We found these fascinating to see all of the old products, it was also fun to see how products we still have today have changed over time eg. Colmans mustard powder.
There are then a long row of terraced houses, all of which are open to visitors to see different houses of the times. These were interesting but there were quite a few - probably about five and by the last one I was getting a bit bored to be honest. They were also quite busy and where they are your traditional 2 up 2 down it was a bit of a squeeze, especially going up and down stairs.
Opposite the houses is a large park. We didn't go in here but it looked very well kept so therefore I imagine it would be a fantastic place to have a picnic!
We then walked up to the Home Farm area of the museum. I believe there is a bus that runs up here (a traditional bus) as it is a bit of a walk, it probably took us about 10 minutes dawdling. Home Farm highlights the farming that would have been used at the time. There are animals here too which is nice, you cans see sheep especially, when we went there had just been the arrival of lambs.
There was also a barn here full of artefacts from throughout history, this was interesting and there was also a member of staff in there in full character telling visitors more about the times.
We then walked round to the final area of the museum and visited the mine. Beamish is home to a small mine which visitors can go down to on a guided tour (each tour lasts around 15 minutes). At the beginning of the tour we went into a barn where we were shown a great deal of mining memorabilia and were told numerous stories. I found this fascinating as it was great to hear what times were like and how the men worked. I learned a lot from this and really enjoyed it as a prelude to the tour itself. Going down into the mine was really fun, our guide knew a lot and although it was a relatively short tour it was very interesting.
Also in the village is the school which is brilliant. There are numerous classrooms in here and you can actually go in the largest one and sit at a desk and use a small blackboard. We really enjoyed this part of the museum and it seemed as though a number of other visitors did too!
==The fish and chip shop==
Pit village is also home to the world famous fish and chip shop. Some of you may have seen a programme on BBC 1 a few months ago which showed the chip shop being built. It is a traditional chip shop using coal to cook the food, it is fried in beef dripping. We did go in here at around 1pm and it was fairly busy, we were around 5 people back in the queue however we had our food within fifteen minutes. It is worth noting that on busier days it gets much much busier. The food from here was really nice and I would recommend a visit if you do go to Beamish.
This was the end of our visit so we decided to head back to our holiday accommodation. In total we spent around four hours here however we could have probably spent a little longer.
==Catering and shopping==
Aswell as the fish and chip shop there are a number of snack places around Beamish including a pub, tearooms and coffee shop. These all serve snack type meals eg. sandwiches, cakes etc. The prices I saw were a little bit higher than the average but a lot of the food is made the traditional way so therefore it is worth paying a little extra.
There is just one gift shop which is situated at the entrance. This is a good size and I found that there was lots in here including souviners, soft toys and books. There was also snacks such as biscuits to be bought here. Prices were reasonable, I only bought two magnets but these were £1.75 each which I feel is a good price.
There is a small kiosk down near where you can catch the tram where you can buy last minute essentials such as guide books, drinks and snacks.
==Admission prices and opening times==
Admission prices are as follows:
Adult Unlimited £17.50
Child Unlimited £10.00
Family (1+2) £32.00
Family (2+2) £46.00
Opening times depend on season however the museum is open every day now until the end of November. The museum is open 10am - 5pm with the last admission being at 3pm.
==What did we think?==
We enjoyed our visit to Beamish. We all had high expectations as we had wanted to revisit for so long and nobody was disappointed. Its not as fantastic as I remember from childhood however ive found that few things really are! However, Beamish is a fun and interesting day out with lots to see and do. It is educational but not at all boring or dreary. The museum is very spaced out which means that even on a busy day you don't feel overcrowded. The favourite parts of Beamish for me were the mine and the transport. The only disadvantage I have is the price because it is quite expensive, especially for a family who only want to visit once, however everything is included in the price such as the mine visit.
To conclude, we all had a good morning at Beamish, I would probably go again but not for another few years as it is expensive. It is a good place for everyone to visit as there is so much too see and do. I would recommend a visit to Beamish if you are in the area and it sounds like your idea of a good day out.
Visitor enquiries, main switchboard and online ticket purchase enquiries:
Tel: 0191 370 4000 (9.00am - 4.00pm, Monday-Friday)
Fax: 0191 370 4001
Customer relations team
Tel: 0191 370 4026
Simon Woolley, Head of Learning and Outreach
Tel: 0191 370 4011
Thank you for reading and I hope this has been of some use to you.
Beamish is a huge open air museum which aims to recreate the experience of every day North East life in times past. It calls itself 'The Living Museum of the North,' and covers over 300 acres of land. The main areas are: The Pit Village, Colliery, Home Farm, Fairground, Railway Station, The Town, Pockerley Old Hall and Waggonway. Many buildings have been transported from other areas and reconstructed at Beamish, others, such as Pockerley Old Hall and the drift mine were already on the site and have been restored. There seem always to be new developments underway and Beamish has grown and changed a lot since my first visit back in the early nineties.
At £16 the price of an adult ticket may seem expensive but the ticket is also a yearly pass, so for those who are able to make regular trips it is excellent value. It also means you don't have to rush around to try and cram everything into one day. I bought a ticket earlier this year and have returned three or four times since.
The entrance to Beamish is through a large red gate which was once a steam hammer used in steel works in Darlington. Immediately beyond this is ample free car parking and there's always a parking assistant around. The ground slopes down toward the entrance building. In here is a shop, cafe and pay points, you can pick up a free map of the site and information leaflet here, or you could buy a much more detailed guide book for £4.95. Entry is through a darkened room where you can watch an introductory film play over a model of the site, then it's out to catch a tram or bus unless you fancy a stroll to the area you wish to visit first.
Beamish is unmissable for transport enthusiasts. There's a fleet of six restored trams. There are also a couple of replica buses, one of which is period style but has been adapted to fit a wheelchair lift and has space for four wheelchairs on board. There are steam engine rides at Pockerley Waggonway and a Victorian country train station. You'll also see other period vehicles driving around or on show, although you might not be able to ride on these. I wouldn't say I'm especially interested in vehicles, old or new, but one of the pleasures of Beamish is the luxury of hopping on and off beautifully restored trams for unlimited free rides throughout the day.
The staff are dressed in period costume and stationed in the different areas to act the part and offer information and advice. They often demonstrate an activity common to the place and time. I have generally been very impressed with the attitudes and manners of staff. Most of them seem friendly, knowledgeable and cheerful. They have been eager to volunteer information, and good at engaging the attention of children, my daughter was delighted at being singled out and chatted to by young women dressed in old style costumes and she babbled on delightedly to them once she had overcome her initial shyness. A bus driver gave her his hat to wear, and on the waggonway when I told her to sit properly on the seat I was told it was fine for her to stand up on it so she could see out over the top of the carriage. I presume staff are trained to be as friendly and helpful as possible, or perhaps chosen for their attitude, because it is striking how good they are. It really stood out when I met a miserable looking worker, this was in the sweet shop, and she was surrounded by a mass of school children so it was perhaps understandable. If you visit during term time it's not unusual for there to be groups of children on school trips, just make sure you don't get behind them in the sweet shop!
~The Pit Village and Colliery~
The pit village is based on an early 1900's mining village, the row of cottages were transported from nearby Hetton-Le-Hole. Inside, activities of one sort or another take place, perhaps cooking or rug making. On a recent visit my daughter was exhorted to take part in beating mats on the washing line in the yard - get the visitors working, why not. Opposite the cottages is a Methodist chapel where there may be a choir singing or a festival being celebrated. Next door to the chapel is the school. Inside are rows of little desks with slate and chalk, children can sit down at the desks and a teacher stands at the front. There are metal hoops on sticks which most people have a go at playing in the playground, apparently it's an old school game which I think was called Booler.
Around the back is Davy's Fried Fish Shop, our family had been eagerly awaiting the opening of this place all year, (it opened this July), and finally got a chippy lunch there on our last visit. It was lunchtime and the queue was huge, there was around a half hour wait. The food came in a cone with two layers of paper, the outer layer being a reprint of an old local newspaper on which it was possible to read police reports from 1913 whilst enjoying some chips. It cost around £7 for a large fish and chips, which wasn't particularly large. The chips were tasty but I did find the fish a little bland. A room full of long wooden benches and tables makes up the restaurant area, it was a bit messy in here. There are outdoor picnic benches too. If you don't fancy fish and chips there's also the Pitman's Pantry which sells a range of hot and cold snacks and drinks. There are picnic benches outside under the trees and there's also a cart here that sells ice creams.
The view from Francis Street cottages includes the colliery. This mahogany drift mine opened in the 1850's and worked for around a century. Regular guided tours take place. There's often a queue here, but we didn't wait long when we went down recently. The tour starts in the lamp cabin where a guide explains what would have been expected of the miners who worked here. Hard hats are issued and you need to bend down as the ceiling can go as low as 4'6". It's quite a quick tour, but it certainly gives a good idea of working conditions for the miners and made me glad I've never had to work in such a place. A pit pony used to live at the museum but sadly, Pip, who was thought to be Britain's last surviving pit pony died in 2009.
Outside you can climb up to see the colliery winding engine and water wheel. There's an exhibition shed with more history and tributes to mine workers. Also outside is an engine shed with early 19th century steam locomotives inside.
~Home Farm, the Fairground and the Railway Station~
Home Farm was originally on the site, had fallen into disrepair and was later restored by the museum. The grounds have a few stables, farm equipment, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. There's also a little pond with a few ducks. You can wander around the Victorian farmhouse and perhaps try some examples of home cooking. There's also a cafe on the farm site, one I haven't yet been in - The Cart Shed has indoor and outdoor seating.
If you walk along the road past Home Farm you will come to the tram depot and the regional resource centre. There may be items of interest to some around here such as a huge crane, but we usually get the tram past this area down to the town. There's an events field and then the fairground. The carousel seems to be a permanent feature, while a couple more attractions appear in the summer months - shuggy boats and a coconut shy. Having a young child is a great excuse to have a go on the fair. It costs £1.50 a ticket for the Steam Gallopers, the cost is per horse, so only one payment for a parent who rides with a child. The roundabout goes surprisingly fast, has some interesting decorations and an organ which plays accompanying music. This is invariably a highlight of the day for my daughter.
The train station is a typical Victorian country station, it was originally built in the 1860's in Consett and was moved to Beamish to be reopened in the 1970's. There's a bridge over the tracks to the platform and waiting rooms, where you can visit the first class waiting room and toilets, see old notices and luggage on the platform. You can have a look in the signal box and at the wagons on display, visiting steam locomotives may also make an appearance.
~The Edwardian Town~
Past the fairground and the train station the tram pulls into the town. On one side is a row of terraces, there's a dentist's house, a solicitor's and a music teacher's waiting to be explored. Further along there's a pub and some shops, including the very tempting Jubilee Confectionery. I'm not sure I've ever made it out of Beamish without buying at least a quarter of sweets in here. In the back room you can watch the sweets being made and there will be samples on a tray. In the shop part you are faced with a choice from row upon row of sweet-jars and confectionery from yesteryear. There's a stationery shop from which you can buy books, postcards and toys, upstairs is a print shop where you can go and look at the press.
Across the road is a park with bandstand and glorious flower beds. A nice place to sit with an ice cream from the nearby kiosk. From the park you can access Dainty Dinah's Tea Rooms for self-service meals or snacks. They do a mean pie and peas, but they also have those annoying hot water machines for tea and coffee that don't fill the cup up properly. The tea rooms have been renovated recently to make access easier, (it used to be up a narrow staircase), and the room is bigger, but I seem to remember the tea used to be better, served in a proper pot rather than those horrible metal ones where the lid never stays down. Not all 'improvements' are improvements.
Also on this side of the road are the Co-operative Grocery, Hardware and Drapery Shops, a motor and cycle showroom and garage. Around the corner is a masonic hall, the world of Edwardian freemasonry no longer quite so secret.
The Sun Inn is a snug little pub, originally from Bishop Auckland. What's that you say....prices? For a pint of ale, a half of shandy and a glass of cordial, we paid £5.95. I'd love to wander down this road of an evening and have more than a half in here.
~Pockerley Old Hall and the Waggonway~
On the road up to Pockerley Old Hall, an alarming notice warns poachers to watch out for man traps. Pockerley represents the home of a wealthy farmer in the early 1800's and parts of the building date back to the 12th century. There's a big kitchen and well stocked larder, a parlour with roaring fire and bedrooms to explore. In a storage room there are a couple of the aforementioned mantraps hanging up, off here is a smoke room full of cuts of ham. Next door, the barrel vault houses various fruit presses, there are bedrooms above, possibly servants quarters, candle making was being demonstrated here last time we visited. Outside are ornamental gardens, kitchen gardens and orchards. Flowers, shrubs and vegetables popular in Georgian times are grown here, children may enjoy using the water pump, it's details like these that help visitors appreciate the life of a servant in the big houses.
On the waggonway you can take a ride in one of three replica early locomotives; Puffing Billy, George Stephenson's Locomotion No.1 or The Steam Elephant. One of the drivers gives a talk while people get settled into their seats. It's only a short ride but it gives a feel for the early days of rail travel. Having sampled the delights of the first class carriage, 'Experiment', I have to say standards of comfort have certainly improved.
~Food and Drink, Gift Shop~
There are several cafes which I've mentioned although I haven't visited all of them. Davy's Fried Fish Shop and Dainty Dinah's Tea Rooms offer the most substantial meals but light bites and snacks make up most of the food on offer. There are also various shops, kiosks and carts with snacks and drinks for sale. One thing I find odd is that the prices differ in the different areas, for example on my last visit I saw the same cartons of juice for sale in different areas priced at 50p, 70p and 90p. A cart on the road up to Pockerley Old Hall seems to have the cheapest drinks. Opening times vary with the outlet; the chip shop shuts at 3pm with most of the others closing at 4.30, earlier out of season. I have turned up and been disappointed. The coffee shop in the entrance building is the last eatery to close, at 5.15pm.
I enjoy having a good look around the Beamish gift shop, as well as all the usual gifts like biscuit tins, sticks of rock and fridge magnets there are all sorts of interesting knick knacks to be found, including replicas of museum items such as cards, adverts, ornaments, toys and books.
It is possible to 'do' Beamish in a day, but it would be rather tiring, best to pick out those things that interest you most. I think a couple of visits at least are necessary to fully appreciate the experience. I also think Beamish closes too early, especially in the Summer months. Five o' clock seems too early to leave, it would be good to enjoy some evening history, a meal and visit to the theatre, (not that they have one - yet), followed by a pint in the Sun Inn and the tram home. There are some evening events actually; at Halloween and Christmas there are ticketed events, (these aren't included in the yearly pass), and the recent transport event, 'Power From the Past' also had evening tickets available, aimed especially at photographers.
There are various fairs and events throughout the year. September this year has seen the annual agricultural show and this coming weekend, (September 25), the Harvest Festival is celebrated in the Pit Village with a parade and special service in the chapel.
One aspect of past life in the North East was that everyone had a coal fire. Whilst this is part of the authenticity of the experience and can be cosy, it's also a bit smelly and I find my throat can get a bit irritated with it too. Once home from Beamish I always plonk my little one in the bath and wash the coal fire smell from her hair.
A review can only give an overview of what a visit may be like, small details and unexpected events make each visitor experience unique. Over the years (more than forty of them), Beamish has won many awards, most recently in September 2011, a Sandford Award for Heritage Education. It's obvious that a great deal of work and attention to detail has gone into building this outstanding museum. I particularly like to examine all the little signs and posters around the place, they can make for amusing reading. The fact that every house has a garden that reflects it's time and place shows some of the effort that goes into museum maintenance. On one of our visits earlier this year suffragettes demonstrated for Votes for Women in the town, on our last visit we were entertained by an organ grinder busking at the bus stop, although I was glad he didn't have a monkey with him. These are just some of the things that help make a visit to Beamish something special.
Further Details and Facilities:
*Prices: Adult - £16, Senior (60+)/Student - £13; Child (5 - 16 years) £10; Family (1 Adult + 2 Children) - £32; Family (2 Adults + 2 Children) - £46; Under 5's - free.
*Opening Times: Summer, (2/4/11 - 30/10/11) - 10am - 5pm every day; Winter, (1/11/11 - 30/3/12) - closed Mondays and Fridays.
Toilets can be found in all areas and they are all of a generally good standard with disabled access. Baby change facilities are available in three of the seven toilet blocks.
*Accessibility: Carers of people with disabilities are admitted free of charge, free wheelchair hire is available. The ground can be uneven and there are some slopes and steps, some of the buildings are not completely accessible for wheelchair users. There is a fully accessible bus, the J2007. Induction loops are available in several exhibits.
*Dogs are allowed at Beamish as long as they are kept on a lead, they can use the transport but only assistance dogs are allowed inside the buildings and catering areas.
*Getting There - Beamish is around 12 miles North West of Durham City and 8 miles South West of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and there are direct buses from both cities, see the, (highly recommended), website for details. It's also on the National Cycle Network.
Tel: 0191 370 4000 (9.00am - 4.00pm, Monday-Friday)
Beamish Open Air Museum is a place where the past is brought back to life. There are all sorts to activities and things to interact with: from sweet-making to attending a school class; from riding a tram to travelling down into a coal mine; Beamish delivers all this and a whole lot more with its staff all appearing in period dressing and ready to give information about their role in the museum.
Beamish is probably best accessed by car. There are two buses that take you to the door (Go North East's 'Waggonway' branded services 28/128 - from Newcastle and Durham respectively), but they run at half-hour/hourly frequencies and take in much of Gateshead if going there from Newcastle. The Beamish Unlimited Pass is great value for money. You pay once, and the pass is valid all year round. Beamish is also dog friendly so there's no need to leave your four-legged friend at home on this day out. Also, if you have an unlimited pass and live locally, its somewhere else to take your dog to if you fancy a change of scenery.
Beamish open air museum is a great day out for all the family .
they have recreated a whole village from the 1920's where you can see what it was like to live , shop and travel during this period on working trams , and buses from the period.
They also have working steam trains, a coal mine you can go under , and a school where you can see what it was like to be educated , there is also an other village from the 1800's .
I would say that if you intend to visit plan for a whole day to see all the areas , and take money with you as there are no cash machines available on the site.
many of the staff are dressed in period costumes and makes it very authentic.
a good day out to be had by all the family
Rather than walking to the top of the site why not take the tram or bus that runs all over the museum and is free to jump on.. what an experience for the kids !
parking is available on the site , entry can be a bit slow at peak times
Prices vary and can be booked on line which allows you to save waiting in a line for a ticket adult prices are £16.00 which may seem expensive , however it is an unlimited ticket which allows you to visit several times but only pay once
it is quite hard to find if your not from the area and the best advice is to use a sat nav if you have one , its about 9 miles from Newcastle Upon Tyne
Beamish Museum is quite possibly one of the largest open air museums in the UK. Located in Beamish, just outside Cherster le Street in County Durham it recreates life in the North East of England in the 1800s and 1900s.
Beamish is home to a large variety of different period shops, homes and more! At over 300 acres, there is lots of things to see and do and it's a lovely place to walk around on a sunny day. We are however in the North East and sunny days are a bit of a rare feature here! Just aswell that Beamish run an original vintage tram and bus to get you around.
The museum is split into 7 different sections;
- The Town. This is based on a North East town just before the First World War. Shops include a dentists, solicitors, Newspaper office, a garage and a sweet shop. All of the shops are fully kitted out with period items and you can even buy sweets in the sweet shop! For adults there is the local pub, licensed to serve alcohol. All of the buildings here are real period buildings that have been transported from their original home brick by brick.
- Home Farm. Modeled on a prosperous farm of the early 1900s. Includes stables, bulls pen and a blacksmith's forge.
- Colliery Village. Larn how the lamps were cleaned, maintained and lit before going underground for a tour of the mine.
- The Railway Station. Although it doesn't have any moving trains, it's still well worth a look round.
- Pockerley Manor. The Manor represents the home of a wealthy farming family in the 1800s. It sits on the top of a hill and a form of the house has done so ever since the 1100s. Look round the whole house.
- Pockerley Waggonway. Ride on one of 3 replica locomotives on a 1km trip through the valley around Pockerley Manor.
- Georgian Landscape. This is the land surrounding Pockerley Manor and the Waggonway. It's been fully restored to show what it might have been like in the 1820s.
Although pretty pricey, during the summer tickets are £16 for an adult and £10 for a child, Beamish is well worth a visit. It easily takes up all day as there is so much to see. Take a picnic and have fun!
Also posted elsewhere
**What is it and How do I find it?**
Beamish Open Air Museum is located in Country Durham, near to Beamish village, Durham and Chester-le-Street. It is signposted from the A1 by the brown tourist signs. Set in 300 acre grounds, Beamish is unlike any other 'traditional museum', instead it is set out in fields as clusters of attractions, with things such as the old village, a school, a church and a mine. This means that visitors can get a real taste of history whilst having an enjoyable family day out. It is set in two important times in the history of the people of the North of England, 1825 and 1913.
**Entering the museum**
I visited with my partner towards the end of May. We went on a weekend so it was fairly busy. We easily found Beamish with the help of my Sat-Nav, and parked up in the gravel car park. Upon entrance there was no queue as it was quite late in the afternoon. We paid our entrance fee, which was £13 as we both had student ID. For adults it is £16, Children £11 (5-16 years) Children under 5 are free, and OAPs (60 Plus) are charged at the same as student price. It is worth noting you can save money by buying a family ticket, and at the time we went they had a promotion where if you bought one, you could turn this into an Annual Pass FREE of charge!! Not sure if this offer is still on but it is worth enquiring. During the winter the prices are almost half that of the summer, however most of the attractions are not open. Inside the main building there is a large gift shop that sells toys, nostalgia, novelty items, locally made food, and other souvenirs. There is also a café, which we did not visit.
To get to the main part of the museum you walk through the building and out, where there is a tram stop. You can choose to catch the tram to the next part of the village, this is highly recommended especially if you're brave enough to climb up to the open top part, it feels a little rickety so is quite exhilarating. There is also a very old style bus that is covered in old metal advertisements. It makes a great photo opportunity. You are given a map upon entrance, which is very useful as everything is quite spread out.
There are various areas you can visit. The School is fantastic, you can go inside, sit down and write on your slate with charcoal and experience a lesson, 1925-style... take that interactive whiteboards!! There are costumed staff that play a role and explain the history to you, they are really friendly and happy to answer questions. Outside in the playground you can play with the metal hoop things that you spin around, (forgotten what they are called!!) no I-pods in sight here!
In the town, set in 1913 there is a dentist, a solicitors, a printers shop, a tearoom (that sells hot and cold snacks and afternoon tea) a clothes shop, a bank, a Masonic Hall, a sweet shop (where you can buy old fashioned sweets and watch them being made). My favorite part was the dentist's surgery where one of the staff/actors spent around 15 minutes explaining what a trip to the dentist was like back then. It was interesting to hear how people bought second-hand false teeth, yum yum! I also liked the bank where you could go down to the vaults and see how all the money and records were kept. There is also a village green where a brass band were playing which added to the atmosphere. For the Dads and car fantatics, there is a garage with a collection of vintage cars and tractors.
Outside of the town there is a mine that you can go underground for a tour, however we ran out of time for this so cannot report on it. There is also a series of miners cottages where you can see people crafting materials for their home as they would have done back then. All the furniture, fixtures, settings, costumes etc seem very authentic and well executed.
'Home Farm' is a place where you can see and pet the animals; there are also some Shetland Ponies in the fields who are gorgeous and very friendly. There is a railway station that has traditional steam trains. There was also a blacksmith who showed us how he made horseshoes.
There is a fairground as well though this was closed when we were there, I have been to this part a few months previously. The carousel is fantastic, and there is also wooden-rope-ship-swing-things for children. You should note that it does cost extra to ride on the fairground attractions which can add up on-top of the entrance fee.
It costs no extra, however to ride on the coal-trucks, the tram or the bus. The countryside is beautiful around the museum grounds, so if you're fit enough I'd recommend walking at least one way.
There are toilets around the site, which you'll be pleased to know do not replicate the ones of 1825! There are also baby changing facilities and disabled access etc. See website for more details: www.beamish.org.uk The tearoom has a range of things to purchase though you could always take your own picnic.
Make sure you choose your times to visit the café, sweet shop etc, as it can get VERY crowded.
Also make sure you are wearing good shoes; there is a lot of walking involved! Don't wear your heels ladies ;)
All the typical outdoor stuff, make sure you're prepared for all weathers, waterproof coat, sun cream etc, you know what British weather is like!
I recommend carrying a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel with you because there are farm animals etc that you can pet but it makes it easier than worrying about hand-washing facilities.
Give yourself enough time for a visit, you can definitely make a full day out of it but you really can't go to Beamish for less than 2.5 hours, I'd say around 4 hours is probably the best time to go for.
Beamish is fantastic for a family day out, there is so much fun to be had but at the same time is a highly educational trip. I'd say I feel the ticket is a little on the pricey side though you have to take into account this is not your average museum with dusty artefacts behind glass with do not touch signs, this is fully interactive. The staff are fantastic and there are so many photo opportunities to be had. To make the most out of the ticket price, make a full day of it if you can. There are also special events that runs at certain times so keep an eye on the website.
We had a fantastic day out, particularly as my partner is not from England originally so she found it even more interesting to see the way of life here in the North East from the Victorian era and even earlier. The only negatives I have to mention is the queue in the shops, especially the sweet shop, it can feel claustrophobic so just choose your times and route carefully.
Beamish Open Air museum is a favourite place of mine, a great place for school trips and a really interesting day out for everyone from toddlers to OAPs. I've been there many times and still haven't got bored with going there.
**Where it is**
Beamish is in Co. Durham, in the north-east of England. It is approximately eight miles south west from Newcastle and twelve miles north west from Durham city. It is really well signposted from the A1M, Junction 63 and as I can drive there myself and I'm not the most confident of drivers, anyone can do it! You can also catch a bus to the museum entrance from Newcastle or Chester-le-Street.
**What is there to do there**
The museum has a number of exhibits, but what I really like is that rather than being just cabinets full of objects, the museum is a living museum, built to look like towns and villages of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. What is really great is that the majority of the buildings used are authentic old buildings that have been carefully taken down, transported to Beamish and rebuilt. Each one is full of artefacts and historic objects and peopled by costumed staff who talk to you as if they are actually from that period in history. It gives the whole place a lovely atmosphere and is a lot more interesting, especially for children, than looking at objects in glass cases and reading information cards.
On entering the museum gates the first thing you will discover is the car park, where parking is easy, and even better, free! Go down the steps and you arrive at the entrance, where quite often there are people dressed up with information about any special events that are happening in the park that day. To the left is the gift shop and to the right the payment desks. Once through this section there is a short corridor with old fashioned metal adverts on the walls. Toilets are also to be found here; we usually try to persuade the children to go here. Although there are plenty of toilets within the park, sometimes there's quite a walk in between. Once past there, it's ou into the open air.
From is entrance there is more than one direction to head in. We usually go anti-clockwise, for the simple reason that everyone else seems not to, so we get to see many exhibits while they're fairly quiet. You can either walk or there are trams going in either direction. Which option we choose depends upon whether there's a tram waiting or not.
Travelling in an anti-clockwise direction...
I always think of this as being a relatively new exhibit at Beamish as it wasn't part of the museum when I was younger, but in truth it's been open for quite some time! Pockerley Manor is supposedly the home of a well-to-do farmer in the early 1800's. Inside, you can visit the farmer's kitchen, where there is often someone making scones or bread, the dining room, or store room (watch out for the rat!). Up the stairs you can take a nosy into their bedroom and that of the child and maid. Out the back of he house are some very nice walled gardens and if you go left out of the back door you will find stairs up to anther couple of rooms which I think a lot of people might miss. Our children were half enthralled, half appalled when the lady in these rooms showed them a badger skin on the wall and told them the smell kept the mice away...nice!
Coming back down the hill from Pockerley Manor, follow the signs to Pockerley Wagonway, where there is a large shed full of different trains and machinery. I'm not a great fan of this area but my husband finds it scintillating and it would be a must for any train enthusiast. More excitingly, you can ride a short distance on an open topped train, where the (very dirty) workers there make the history come to life with tales of how children should be seen and not heard and that the laws of the time state that it is ok to beat your wife with a stick "no thicker than your thumb". Eek!
Returning from Pockerley Waggonway, it's back on the tram or you can walk into the town, but be warned it's quite a hike, especially on a hot day.
This is probably my favourite place because there is so much to see and explore. The town is typical of a north-east town from around 1913. Coming into the town the first building you see is the Masonic Hall, a fairly new exhibit and one that is quite a lot grander than the rest of the town.
Next door to this is Barclays Bank, a building my Mum very much enjoys as her first job when she left school was at Barclays and she claims it was quite similar to the bank at Beamish. Again it is staffed and the children (and myself) were left quite baffled when given a lesson in adding up pounds, shillings and pence. Underneath the bank are the vaults, again complete with rats!
Then it's into the main street where you can either visit the garage and workshop to your left, where you can view a range of cars and their spare parts, or if you have any sense you will head right to the sweet shop. The sweet shop smells fantastic and has a range of sweets, some of which you don't seem to see these days. If you arrive at the right time there is sometimes a demonstration of sweet making going in, often with free samples. If this isn't happening when you visit, ask what time the next demonstration is and any staff member will be happy to tell you. Be warned though, the sweet shop is always crammed full of people. Funny that, isn't it?
Next door to the sweet shop is the Newspaper Office and Stationers shop and again you can actually buy items here, such as notebooks, pencils and postcards. Upstairs, there's a printer's shop, again giving demonstrations. Behind here is the stables, especially nice if you like horses next door to the Newspaper office is the pub, The Sun Inn. My Mum gets especially excited here too. No, it's not what you're thinking - it's because it originally came from a town quite near to ours and she can remember it in its original location. You can actually go in and buy alcohol while visiting. We've never done this, although I think my husband would like to! Tea, coffee and sandwiches are also sold here.
Opposite these exhibits is the old fashioned Co-op which has three different departments where you can see old fashioned groceries, hardware and clothing and the staff are quite likely to ask you if you have a dividend card! There are lots of staff available in this area to explain to you what to do with the various articles for sale and you can visit the manager's office and finance office at the back of the shop.
A small set of stairs in the centre of the co-op building leads up to a tea-room, which sounds nice in theory but it's actually just an over-priced café selling mediocre sandwiches and snacks. If the weather's fine, it's far better to pack a picnic and enjoy it in the old fashioned park, complete with bandstand, and the children can have a run around at the same time.
Opposite the park is a small terrace of houses and businesses, including a piano and music teacher, a solicitor's office and a dentist's surgery where staff are only too happy to demonstrate the dental equipment. Apart from the sweet shop, this is the only place I've seen queues really build up. Could the two be connected somehow?
The trams stop at the town if you want to catch one, as does a little bus that travels to the colliery village. A small ice-cream stall is situated at the exit of the town (or the entrance if you travel the opposite way round). If you buy one you have just enough time to eat it on the walk to the next attraction!
**The Railway Station**
Down a small incline and across an iron bridge you come to the railway station, another place my Mum enjoys as she gets an opportunity to tell us that her friend's dad worked in a similar signal box and they used to visit him after school. At Beamish railway you too can explore the signal box and the various rooms at the station. Often a member of staff is sitting on the bench "waiting for the train". I can't decide whether this would be a really easy job or a really boring one as the train never arrives! Next to the railway station is the Regional Museums store, another one for train enthusiasts but a place I tend to skip!
** The Fairground**
Just past the railway station, back over another bridge is a large expanse of grass with a few picnic benches and a place of huge excitement for the children. Never mind that it consists merely of a carousel, shuggy boats and a hall of mirrors, children will quite happily spend your money here as the rides all have an additional charge. It is another nice place to eat a picnic though and often there will be special shows and exhibitions in this area, depending upon the time of year.
Following further along the road, there comes a cross roads, where you can either go up the hill to the farm, or down into the colliery village. Going up the hill you come to fields with various bird life in them and a small café, again with picnic benches where you can stop and eat. Be very careful with the birds here. More than once has a goose taken a fancy to our sandwiches and they don't give up easily! Go through the gates by the café to visit Home Farm. Be wary of the road to cross here as it is a real road that outside traffic travels on. Make sure children know that the cars going past might be going fairly fast.
Once across the road, at Home Farm you can visit the blacksmith, or look at the various agricultural equipment, see the animals (usually pigs and horses are in evidence) or visit the farm house itself. The large kitchen is the best place as usually there is someone making scones and often a farmer is by the fire explaining what the day's jobs are.
**The Colliery Town**
Back down the hill from the farm and down a further hill is the colliery town. One of my favourite places there is the school (although that could just be because I work in education). There are two big school rooms and a smaller room for the younger children. It's easy to locate the school by the noise that's usually coming from the rear yard where metal hoops and sticks are available to try. Inside the school house there is usually at least one teacher. Behave yourself as they are quite likely to tell you off for talking or touching something you shouldn't! I can spend ages in the school being quite amused by the various notices and rules.
Next door is the chapel, which is very similar in style to our own local chapel. At various times of the year you might find an actual service going on in here.
Opposite these buildings are the pit cottages, which are a lot smaller and poorer looking than the houses in the town, obviously as they are meant to be owned by the pit workers. You can look through the front windows of the houses; our children were fascinated by the fact that they had beds in the front rooms and you can go into the houses at the back. Often people inside will be cooking or making raggy mats and they are always happy to explain what they are doing. Don't forget to peep in at the ash closets outside - no interior bathrooms here! At the end of the row is the Mine Office where miners would have gone for employment or to receive their wages. Sometimes the person in the office will enquire of our son if he wants paid work as a "pit lad" while annoying my daughter by telling her girls can't work.
Further into the village you can visit the Engine Shed, or if you're really brave go down the mine. If you're tall you will have to stoop though as the ceilings aren't very high. Hard hats are provided though, just in case!
Once finished at the town, either catch a tram or walk a short distance and you're back at the park entrance having travelled in a complete circle.
At various times of the year Beamish plays host to special events, such as agricultural fairs or motor shows. They also have various brass bands or choirs visiting and there are celebrations at special times of year such as Christmas, Halloween, May Day and Harvest time. Schools can arrange special workshops where children can find out what it's like to work as a servant or attend school in 1900.
There are two different charges depending upon what time of year you visit. Uring the winter (until April) only the Town is open therefore prices are cheaper but there isn't as much to do.
Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £46
Family Ticket (2 adults, 1 child) £32
Children aged 4 and under are free. If you are travelling with a large group then admission charges are reduced.
If you live locally, or think you might visit more than once in the year, it's cheaper to buy an annual pass:
Family Ticket (2 children) £60
Family Ticket (1 child) £42
There is so much to do that a one day visit doesn't do it justice so you could easily get your money's worth with an annual pass, plus you can then visit for any special events that interest you, such as the Edwardian Christmas market.
All tickets are £6, although they sometimes run special offers, for example this weekend all tickets are £5.
Much of the outside of Beamish would be accessible to wheelchairs or pushchairs; however parts of it, due to having narrow stairs would probably be out of bounds. Also there is a lot of ground to cover at Beamish so you need to be reasonably fit - or take the tram everywhere. Wheelchairs can be loaned free from Beamish museum itself - an idea if the distances are too far to walk but you would be able to get out and walk around the attractions.
There are a number of toilets and baby changing facilities available at many of the different areas.
If you missed out on food while in the museum, there is a small coffee shop at the museum entrance.
The gift shop stocks a wide range of items, from books about the area, and surrounding county, to old fashioned sweets, to signs and posters, to children's toys and novelties. My daughter can never visit without buying a pen that looks like a quill; we must have half a dozen of these now. I'd rather have the humbugs!
**Would I recommend a visit?**
Definitely. It's really interesting to see life as it would have been lived one hundred years ago. I've gone with my own children and on several school trips and they've always been fascinated too. Older people, like my mother, although they weren't living this long ago may be able to remember some of the items from their childhood. The staff are always pleasant and tell great stories so make sure you take the time to talk to them and ask questions. Plus the grounds are lovely although obviously, being an open air museum, it's not half as good if the weather is poor. You will need to go early though as there's a lot to see and you can be hard pressed for time, especially on a first visit. It's definitely a great day out for the whole family. Then go home and feel grateful that you don't have to beat your carpets, bath in a tin bath or go outside on a cold dark night to answer a call of nature!
We travelled upto beamish on a coach trip from sheffield. On arriving there was a little bit of chaos of us entering with a few coach parties all entering at once.
When you get into the place there is a stop where you can catch a tram round to the other end of the village. However one look at the queue we decided to walk instead.
The first thing we came across was the tramway garages where you could look from the outside at the trams inside.
The second section we came across was a small funfair. This contained a few small rides for children such as a merrygo round and swingboats. There was also a few side stalls such as cocount shy.
Next to small fair ground was the train station which had a train in. From here we crossed over the foobridge and made our way to the small village.
The village was my favourite part of the museum. Here was a street containing a dentist, hardware shop and writers which you could look round. Also in the village was a pub, sweet shop and printers which were all open. We sampled the dandelion and burdock and lemmonade from the pub which we enjoyed. From the sweet shop I bought some strawberry bon bons and a bar of chocolate. There were plenty of sweets to choose from and these were weighed out in front of you. Hoever the shops in the village could be busy. There was also a small park area which contained a bandstand.
When we finally moved on from the village we came across the mining pit area. From here we donned a hard hat and had a quick tour of an underground pit. After this we had a look around the cottages that the miners used to live in.
Finally we made our way to the shop. This had a range of different things and I bought a very nice drinking chocolate from here.
After the shop we made our way to the coach and headed back to sheffield.
It was a beautiful Bank Holiday Sunday and I had a friend staying with me. Being that we both enjoy a bit of history now and then we decided to take a drive down to Beamish.
Beamish is a very large North Eastern open air museum. The entire thing is based in 1913 and you can ride on real old trams and buses between places such as a town centre and mining village. I advise using this as it's a good 20 minute walk between locations - pretty and good exercise, but tiring.
There are period actors everywhere to explain things - a dentist in the dentist's surgery, a lady in the grocer's shop, a housewife in the miner's village. These folk are friendly and really know their stuff, able to answer most questions on the spot. There's also a schoolroom complete with playground which seems to be the cue for every adult visiting to run to play with stick-and-hoops and hopscotch (I won!).
Highlight of the visit for us was a visit down an old coal mine. Beware, some people might feel claustrophobic here - we had to stoop, and neither of us stands much above 5 foot tall. The six footers in the group going down looked as though they were quite uncomfortable.
It's worth checking the website before you go, as they quite often have special events on. We got to see a brass band, but had we been able to go Saturday rather than Sunday we would have got to see all the Empire Day celebrations.
Food can be expensive and the queues were too big for us to even try to get any. However, we'd thought ahead and brought a picnic, and I would advise anyone else visiting to do the same. There's a lovely large village green to eat it on - perfect picnic ground with a surprisingly small amount of litter.
While I loved this, I'm not sure how good the access would be for the disabled. Because it's built very very accurately... well, they just weren't thinking about the disabled in 1913. I would suggest calling before you visit to see what arrangements can be made because there's no way a wheelchair could fit on the trams or bus.
Finally we come to the price. It's not cheap I'm afraid. I paid £13 for my student pass, and it's £16 for adults and £10 for kids. There is a family pass for £32 with one adult or £46 with two adults and the prices drops to £6 each in winter as some parts of Beamish close then. An annual pass however is only £21 for adults, £13 for kids, and £17 for students and this may well be worth considering as after spending an entire day there we felt as thought we had barely seen half of it. There's an entire fairground I still want to go back to see!
One of my families favourite destinations for a great day out is Beamish open air museum. Situated in the north east of England Beamish has won British museum of the year award not only for the U.K but for Europe too. Advertised as where the past comes to life Beamish will take you back in time to the 1800s and 1900s.
Beamish is situated in county Durham. It is 9 miles south west of Newcastle and 12 miles north of Durham city. It is really well sign posted from all approach roads. There is a large free car park where it is a minutes walk into the entrance building.
There is a bus direct from Eldon Square in Newcastle that stops right outside the museum gates. From Durham you will need to take a connecting bus at Chester-le-street.
Whats on offer?
Set in 300 acres of beautiful countryside Beamish is a museum with a difference. It really is like stepping back in time. Part of the area is dedicated to 1825 where you will find Pockerly manor house and farm. Once the home of a yeoman farmer and his family Pockerly manor is exactly as it would have been in 1825. The house has no electricity but is lit by candlelight. All the rooms are furnished with genuine objects from the period. Staff in costume are on hand to answer questions. Outside there are formal gardens with plants that would have been grown at the time. There is a small farm with outbuildings to explore.
The path from the manor house leads past peaceful fields and meadows. The fields have been ploughed, as they would have been in that period. The whole area has a really authentic feel to it. A path then leads to the 1825 wagonway where you can ride a replica steam train in open carriages. I love the engine drivers bothy complete with roaring coal fire.
From the wagonway it is a 2-minute walk to the tram and bus stop. I love riding on the tram and the views from the top are stunning! There is also an open topped period bus that runs to all area of Beamish.
Both the tram and bus fares are included in your ticket price. Alternatively it is a 10-minute walk to the reconstructed 1913 town. Everything around you here is authentic including the shops and row of houses. There are staff in costume walking around to add to the feeling you have gone back in time. All the buildings here have been brought to Beamish and rebuilt and furnished with genuine items from the period.
There is a row of houses that includes a dentist and a solicitors house. Entering the dentists surgery you notice a strong smell of cloves. Many of the rooms in the houses can be explored and objects handled.
Opposite the houses there is a bank. When we were there recently a member of staff spend 15 minutes showing my children old coins and explaining how the banking system worked at that time. My 10 year old was fascinated to learn that if you wanted to pay £5 into the bank you would first send in one half of your £5 note then send the second half later. The bank would then stick the 2 halves together after checking the serial numbers matched. The idea being to stop fraud!
There is a fully stocked co-op to explore, with all items priced, as they would have been. My children are fascinated to see what foods would have been on offer.
The sweet factory and shop are firm favourites, with free sweets to be sampled! In the shop you can buy sweets in 2 oz portions.
I love the haberdashery with its rolls of material on display. There is a glass display counter with lots of fascinating items for sale, pity you cant really buy them!
The co-op general store is great fun too. All the things for sale are genuine items from the period and all displayed as they would have been.
There is an inn serving soft and alcoholic drinks and a café serving light meals and drinks.
At the end of the town there is a small park with a bandstand. There are several benches for you to picnic. There is a printers and a garage complete with early motor cars and motor bikes.
Through an archway next to the inn is the horse stables and carriage house.
A short distance from the town is a large field with a Victorian fairground. There is a carousel in addition to a few other rides. Rides cost £1.50 if you are interested. The field is also a picnic area.
Between Pockerly manor and the 1913 town a path meanders through a small wooded area down to the colliery and pit village. Here you have the opportunity to go into the coal mine with a guide. The tour takes you to the coalface. The tunnel is only 4 foot 6 inches in most places and the guide will turn off the light to show you what it would have been like for a miner at work. This is not for anyone who is claustrophobic! If you want to take the tour I suggest you take the tram to the pit village as soon as you arrive at Beamish as it is very popular. There is an engine shed housing a collection of industrial locomotives.
There is a row of pit workers cottages all carefully restored. It was interesting to learn that wages for miners were relatively high in 1913 and this is reflected in the furnishings in the cottages. Each cottage has a yard with outside netties or loos. The gardens to the front of the cottages are as they would have been with vegetables and flowers. There is the colliery office where the men would go to collect their wages.
A short walk along from the cottages and you come to the Methodist chapel with the board school next door. The school is another highlight for my children. There are 3 classrooms with desks and displays all as it would have been. Children can sit at the desks and use the slate and crayon provided to copy from the blackboard at the front of the classroom. There are teachers on hand to show you how children were taught and answer questions. When we were last at Beamish the teacher spent 45 minutes showing my children some of the interesting things in the classroom. They were fascinated by the pickled adder and grasssnake, kept to help children of the time identify which snakes were poisonous.
Outside in the playground you can try your hand at keeping the hoop going, not as easy as it looks!
From the pit village it is a short uphill walk to home farm. Here there are various farm animals to see. On our last visit the bull was a favourite. There are farm buildings with farm implements.
We always take a picnic and have never eaten at any of the cafes here so I cant comment on the food. .However there is a café at the entrance that serves light snacks. There is tearoom situated above the co-op in the town that serves jacket potatoes and light snacks. However there is a steep flight of steps so this place may not be suitable for someone with a disability.
There is a small café with outside seating at home farm. Named the canny cuppa, this is a good place to stop for a cup of tea and a cake. There are also ice creams and sandwiches on offer. Food prices are high at Beamish as in most attractions so pack a picnic! There are plenty of benches where you can eat.
There are plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities throughout the site. I have always found the toilets well maintained.
Beamish is suitable for everyone including those with disabilities. However if you are a wheelchair user then it is suggested you bring someone with you to help you negotiate some of the steep slopes. Surfaces at beamish can be uneven, just as they would have been at the time. There are wheelchair routes to the pit village, Pockerly manor and home farm. Some of the buildings may be difficult to access due to stairs and narrow entrances. There is a leaflet available from the entrance building to assist visitors with disabilities.
Prices and opening times.
Beamish is open all year.
Summer season-31st march-28th October.
Winter season-29th October-14th march.
During the winter season Beamish closes on Mondays and Fridays.
This is not a cheap attraction.
Summer season prices are-
£16.00 for an adult.
£10 for a child (5-16)
A family ticket costs £46 but is only for 2 adults and 2 children.
Your ticket price includes all tram ,bus and train rides.
During the winter season the cost is considerably less but only the town is open.
Children-£6.00. There are no family tickets in the winter season.
There are special events held throughout the year, details can be found on the Beamish web site at www. Beamish.org.uk. Alternatively you can phone Beamish on 0191-3704000.
There is a lot to see at Beamish and I suggest you allow a full day to enjoy all that is on offer. I honestly cant think of anything negative to say about Beamish!
Easter Bank Holiday weekend, and its the same thing- where do we go today? So, one day, it was off to Beamish Museum, since I hadnt been there since I had taken a class of children, and knew it would be somewhere Little Miss and her friend would enjoy
Beamish museum is an Open air museum and is advertised as a place where the past comes to life; by the past, it means specifically 1800s and 1900s. It is set in over 300 acres of countryside, so the great thing is that even if it is the height of the tourist season, you can lose yourself in the countryside and enjoy the wide open spaces.
**How to get there**
Obviously, we know where it is, but for someone who was unsure, I always think the best way to find a place is on an internet route finder. Failing this, the museum is easy to find by following the A1m and exiting at Junction 63, then following the signs for the museum; they are actually there from the junction.
You know you are at the museum when you go under the large metal bridge structure, and so begins your in another era experience
Once there, you can park your car free of charge in the large car park
**How much is it?**
There are different summer and winter prices, but since we are now in summer, and I would never go in winter (far too cold), I will give an indication of the summer prices. Entry for a child from 5-16 is £10, an adult is £16, and a family ticket is £46.
Yes, the prices are steep, but it is an all day experience
Like the prices, the opening hours change according to the season, (summer season starts end of March, just in time for easter visitors) and its open every day 10am- 5pm, with last admission 3pm. However, it would be a waste of money to arrive late because you wouldnt see enough to warrant the cost.
As it is set in a large area of land, there is lots of walking to do. Once you have paid your money, step out of the entrance area, and there is the tram and bus stops. Great idea, and even better on the way back when little feet are tired.
We decided to walk it, and once through the entrance area, it was about a 15 minute walk to the 1913 Colliery Village. This has a chapel and school, as well as a row of houses backing onto the railway line. The school is very much as schools were at the turn of the 20th century and there were even teachers there, in full costume, to answer questions. Children and adults are encouraged to have a go at writing on the slate boards and then to go outside and play with the stick and hoops- much easier ion the 21st century as they are made of metal and attached to each other, so the hoop cant escape and carry on for miles before caught. The row of houses are set up as they would have been in that era, as are the gardens, complete with chickens, ducks and pigeons, but what seems to strike children most of all is the fact that the bed is in the living room- none of this bedrrom for everyone like now.
The houses in the village have been deconstructed, brick by brick from other areas in the North of England, but next stop on our travels round the museum brought us to Home Farm, which was actually already on the site, as was Pockerley manor and the Drift mine. These three areas are obviously very much as they were at the turn of the century, and what I liked about the place is the fact that there are not rows and rows of small artefacts behind glass cases with labels too complex for children to read and understand; instead, everywhere you go, there are people in traditional dress, ready to answer questions and there is a feeling that you have indeed travelled back in time. There are live animals in the fields, and horses been led around by farm hands and stable boys.
The town has a coffee shop which does sell modern day food and drinks, and this is the only place where it was obvious that the staff were not wearing early 20th century costumes. We stopped off at the Dainty Dinah Tea Rooms in the town and spent about £10 on 4 drinks and some cakes- take a picnic is my advice! Also in the town is the sweet shop, where you can watch sweets been made by traditional methods, and sample them. Obviously, this is an incentive to buy some sweets. Go into the dentists and marvel at the horrors of tooth extraction, and have a look in the bank, Masonic hall and solicitors office. After that, a well earned drink can be bought at the Sun Inn Public House before starting to walk again.
For us, ambling along with no real plan, this was to the fair ground- rides are 31 each or 6 rides for £5. The carousel is, I believe, an old one, and comes complete with horses tipping into the centre, no safety harnesses, and a faster speed than is found today- the children loved it! There is also a small train, a house of mirrors and those 2 person ships, again without safety harnesses- I thought these were a tad dangerous for 5 year olds.
Another feature is the train which takes you for a little ride along to the mine (you can go down it, and are issued with helmets), and the tram and open top bus which take you back to the entrance if you prefer not to walk.
I have touched briefly on the things to see in the area, but really, I think everyone gets something different out of it, depending on their interests and the ages of the people with them.
I think this is a great day out, but as I mentioned earlier, make it a full day to be sure of getting value for money. One thing to point out here, if you live near Beamish, and would go more than once in a year its not until after we had paid that I noticed that you can get a full years family membership for £52, which is £6 more than a family day ticket. I think it was a bit cheeky that they didnt make this obvious as you go into the museum, because obviously, for people like me, it would be worth paying £6 more.
What strikes me about this place, though, is how safe it seems. There are large areas of open spaces in which children can run, and then for interest, every 15 minutes or so, there is something to look at and explore. As you walk around the area, there are animals and machinery to look at, as well as the station and the signal box, which proved interesting. There are no cars to watch out for, merely the very sporadic bus and tram service, so its really relaxing, not always having to tell children to watch the traffic.
I have been with classes of children, when the children have dressed up and had a full day of been educated 1913 style, and they have found it a great experience, knowing they can walk away!
We didnt go down the mine this time, but when you go down, there are full explanations given about how the people worked, and men show how the trucks were pushed when the ceiling was so low. Even the very young children find this fascinating as they can relate to children their age working (or think they can!)
With two young children we had a great day, and even the weather was on our side. The staff are helpful and informative, and the whole area is beautifully maintained- no litter, which I always think is a plus. Another major plus is the way in which they seem to have managed to get toilets into most of the buildings. There is nothing worse than having children caught short and needing the toilet with a 20 minute walk to the nearest convenience. Not so in Beamish. There are toilets at the entrance, in the eateries, in the back yard of the houses, the Masonic Hall, the farm, etc- all thankfully in the style of 21st century living.
There are lots of hands on experiences for children, and some of the things which stuck in their minds were the feel of the grain as they worked their hands through the large amounts of grain and the smell of the meat being cured. Look out for the birds hanging in the farm- children will almost certainly warn you that they are there before you bang your head!
All in all, if you want a good family day out, far from the madding crowds, give it a try. Lots of fresh air and open spaces, plenty for everyone to look at and enjoy, educational, fun, with plenty of modern conveniences.
Thanks for reading.
This was interesting for all of my family as we all share the same interest about finding about how people used to live. Going to beamish was a great way to find out. It was like going back in time??????.. ~~~Location~~~ This museum is located in County Durham about 12 miles north of Durham city ~~~What it is~~~~ Beamish is like no other museum, you are not cooped up in stuffy rooms looking at objects from centuries ago, the closest I can get to describing it is that you actually get as close to history as you can. Beamish gives you the experience of what life was like in the late 1800?s and early 1900?s of Britain.. They have actually built a little town to how it would have looked in those times. I?ll describe each thing in full later, but you get to go inside all the buildings, and although many of them were newly built, to recreate the turn of the century there are a few original buildings that stand from that time as well, and yes you can nosey around those as well. ~~~ The Manor~~~ This was actually built in 1825, and actually people have been living in that house for hundreds of years. Beamish bought it off the current owner when it started to become derelict and turned it into part of their museum. They have displayed it to how it would have looked in the early 1800?s. There are people or staff actually wandering around in full period costume to make you feel that you are actually walking around somebodys house. There are also demonstrations like how to make candles. This was the only form of light then, they needed a lot as the windows in those days did not let a lot of light through. I don?t know why it was called a manor as it wasn?t all that large although I could plainly see it was divided down the middle, the front for the wealthy and the back for the servants, the conditions for the servants were horrible judging by the museum. Everything was very realistic even down to the meat in one of the store rooms
(it was real !!!!!). ~~~The Town~~~ The town was constructed just for the purpose of the museum, but they have done a good job it does look as if it was built in the Victorian times. In the town there are shops such as the sweet shop which has all your old sweets stored in glass jars behind the counter. Then there was the shop, where all the goods like furniture and accessories were also behind the counter. You can go into the dentists house and look at all the scary equipment. If you hate the dentist now you wouldn?t have the courage to go then, I?m sure some of the instruments he would have used were lethal. Theres a pub where you can sample the typical ale and food that would have been served in that time. Theres the bank where you can go downstairs and see where they would have kept the money (and the prisoners). And then there are a few middle class houses that you can go have a snoop around. ~~~ The railway~~~ There is also a part of a railway line in the museum and they actually have a train from the 1800?s which they have done up and people can have the opportunity to ride on it up and down the line. I can?t really say much on this as old vehicles aren?t one of my big interests so I wasn?t paying much attention at this part. ~~The Village~~ This is where the working class would have lived. You get the chance to look in their houses and they are tiny one up one down jobs.. There is also a school there which is typical of what you would expect and isn?t that much different (apart from the furniture) from some schools today). Then near it is the coal mines where you can take a trip down into the murky depths I wouldn?t recommend this if you are tall as I am only 5?3 and I had to bend over double for most of it my back was killing by the end of it. ~~the farm~~ There is a farm there which again is one of the original buildings and again there are demonstrations like how to make bread. Outside they have
the animals which they would have used in the olden days. As the museum is spread out over a few acres is takes a while to get from one part to the other so the musum have provided the old fashioned trams to take you from a to b. If that doesn?t tickle your fancy there is always the restored bus or the horse and cart. ~~info~~~ Is open all year round opening times vary depending on the season. But in the summer its open every day 10 till 5 Prices in the summer are Child £7.00 Adults £12.00 This was lovely all the staff were great and seemed to fit into their roles really well. If you are up north make a day for this its not worth missing
Beamish North or England Open Air museum This was interesting for all of my family as we all share the same interest about finding about how people used to live. Going to beamish was a great way to find out. It was like going back in time??????.. ~~~Location~~~ This museum is located in County Durham about 12 miles north of Durham city ~~~What it is~~~~ Beamish is like no other museum, you are not cooped up in stuffy rooms looking at objects from centuries ago, the closest I can get to describing it is that you actually get as close to history as you can. Beamish gives you the experience of what life was like in the late 1800?s and early 1900?s of Britain.. They have actually built a little town to how it would have looked in those times. I?ll describe each thing in full later, but you get to go inside all the buildings, and although many of them were newly built, to recreate the turn of the century there are a few original buildings that stand from that time as well, and yes you can nosey around those as well. ~~~ The Manor~~~ This was actually built in 1825, and actually people have been living in that house for hundreds of years. Beamish bought it off the current owner when it started to become derelict and turned it into part of their museum. They have displayed it to how it would have looked in the early 1800?s. There are people or staff actually wandering around in full period costume to make you feel that you are actually walking around somebodys house. There are also demonstrations like how to make candles. This was the only form of light then, they needed a lot as the windows in those days did not let a lot of light through. I don?t know why it was called a manor as it wasn?t all that large although I could plainly see it was divided down the middle, the front for the wealthy and the back for the servants, the conditions for the servants were horrible judging by the museum. Everything was very realistic e
ven down to the meat in one of the store rooms (it was real !!!!!). ~~~The Town~~~ The town was constructed just for the purpose of the museum, but they have done a good job it does look as if it was built in the Victorian times. In the town there are shops such as the sweet shop which has all your old sweets stored in glass jars behind the counter. Then there was the shop, where all the goods like furniture and accessories were also behind the counter. You can go into the dentists house and look at all the scary equipment. If you hate the dentist now you wouldn?t have the courage to go then, I?m sure some of the instruments he would have used were lethal. Theres a pub where you can sample the typical ale and food that would have been served in that time. Theres the bank where you can go downstairs and see where they would have kept the money (and the prisoners). And then there are a few middle class houses that you can go have a snoop around. ~~~ The railway~~~ There is also a part of a railway line in the museum and they actually have a train from the 1800?s which they have done up and people can have the opportunity to ride on it up and down the line. I can?t really say much on this as old vehicles aren?t one of my big interests so I wasn?t paying much attention at this part. ~~The Village~~ This is where the working class would have lived. You get the chance to look in their houses and they are tiny one up one down jobs.. There is also a school there which is typical of what you would expect and isn?t that much different (apart from the furniture) from some schools today). Then near it is the coal mines where you can take a trip down into the murky depths I wouldn?t recommend this if you are tall as I am only 5?3 and I had to bend over double for most of it my back was killing by the end of it. ~~the farm~~ There is a farm there which again is one of the original buildings and again there are demonstrat
ions like how to make bread. Outside they have the animals which they would have used in the olden days. As the museum is spread out over a few acres is takes a while to get from one part to the other so the musum have provided the old fashioned trams to take you from a to b. If that doesn?t tickle your fancy there is always the restored bus or the horse and cart. ~~info~~~ Is open all year round opening times vary depending on the season. But in the summer its open every day 10 till 5 Prices in the summer are Child £7.00 Adults £12.00 This was lovely all the staff were great and seemed to fit into their roles really well. If you are up north make a day for this its not worth missing
Approximately four miles north of Durham City and nine miles south of Newcastle upon Tyne encompassing 450 acres of beautiful countryside you find Beamish, The North of England Open Air Museum. Since the opening of the museum in the 1970’s I have been many times, it was a favourite family day out when our children were younger and is still an enjoyable day out for Kathleen and myself. The museum is no ordinary museum, it is a living, working life size experience of how we lived in the 1800’s and early 1900’s and it has been added to and improved many times over the years. Within the 450 acre site the museum is divided into different attractions with over seventy buildings. There is an early 1900’s town, a Victorian park, an 1800’s railway station, a working farm, a Victorian fair ground, a blacksmiths, an early 1900’s colliery village, and a Manor house. The Town Wander along the main street of the town and you can visit the Co-operative Store, the Ironmongers, the Bank, the Dentist, the Doctor or Music Teacher. Go into the sweet shop and tantalise your taste buds with old fashioned favourites such as sherbet, aniseed balls, gobstoppers, liquorice sticks, black bullets, mint humbugs or lollypops, all of which are on sale and then wander into the small factory at the back of the shop and watch the sweets being made in the authentic way. Take a walk into the local pub for a pint and sit in the snug or bar in front of a blazing real coal fire and after your drink walk down the lane to the local garage and watch the mechanics working on authentic vehicles. While you’re in town have a walk into the homes of the people who lived and worked there. The Victorian Park As you walk out of town you pass the park and this is an ideal setting to sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic or if you are lucky you might get a seat around the bandstand and see a brass band playing. The Railway St
ation Beyond the park you come to the 1800’s railway station with it’s signal box, public waiting room, ladies only waiting room and station master’s house. A magnificent, full-size, working replica of an early 1800s 'lost' locomotive, The Steam Elephant, was unveiled here in 2002. Originally built in 1815 by William Chapman of Newcastle upon Tyne for Wallsend Colliery, the Elephant worked there and at Washington and Hetton Collieries until the 1840s, when it disappeared without a trace. While you are at the railway station you can take a ride in replica 1825 carriages behind The Steam Elephant or the Museum's replica of "Locomotion No.1" built by George Stephenson in 1825. The original Locomotion No.1 headed the first public, passenger-carrying, steam train in the world - on the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1825. The Blacksmiths When you come out of the railway station walk over the station stairs and down the lane to the blacksmiths, this is where the dray horses are stabled and cared for; as well as watching the blacksmith at work you can watch the draymen preparing the horses and polishing the horse brasses. The Farm A short walk from the blacksmiths brings you to the working farm with traditional breeds of pigs, poultry and cattle, here you can watch the women working in the farm house and farm yard and the men working in the fields with horse drawn ploughs. The Victorian Fairground Walking from the farm back towards the road you pass the fairground but you will not find any white knuckle rides here, the typical rides for Victorian children were swings, shuggy boats, helter skelter and horse carousel but these rides are very popular at Beamish and there is also a coconut shy and toffee apple stall. The Colliery Village This is the part of Beamish I enjoy most, there is an early 1900’s schoolhouse with demonstrations of lessons with
slates and abacuses and playground activities such as whip and top and hopscotch, you can visit the village church and wander into the village houses and watch patchwork, clippie mat and quilting demonstrations or just linger in the kitchen and sample the home made bread, pastries and biscuits. Also in the village you can visit a traditional gypsy caravan and watch a woodwork demonstration or take a walk down the coal mine and see the Shetland pit ponies that have been rescued and are looked after in the nearby field. Pockerly Manor Past the village you come to Pockerly Manor and this is the home of the gentry, here you get a glimpse of what life was like both upstairs for the upper-class members of society and downstairs for the working-classes; the Manor has a butler, chambermaids, cook and scullery maids plus of course the gamekeeper who is often seen in hot pursuit of poachers. Other Information The 450 acre site is on a tram route and you can ride on the trams as often as you like free of charge, there are open top trams, single decker trams and horse drawn trams and an early model of a bus, the trams and bus operate continuously throughout the day in a circle around the site, however the farm is slightly off the road so you do have a couple of minutes walk from the tram stop to the farm. Entrance to Beamish is £12 for Adults, £6 for Children and £9 for over sixties. You can also join the Beamish Club for an annual fee of £15 (£12 for over sixties), once you have paid your annual fee you can enjoy as many visits as you like and you can bring two guests each visit for half price. Opening Times are 23rd March to 27th October 10.00am to 5.00pm seven days a week and the last admission is 3.00pm. Most of Beamish is accessible for the disabled and disabled facilities are available, however there are some areas not suitable for those confined to a wheelchair but if you notify the museum before you visit arrang
ements are made to assist visitors who may experience problems and the whole of the museum, with the exception of the farm is on a road that circles the 450 acre site. Address: Beamish – The North of England Open Air Museum, Beamish, County Durham, DH9 0RG Telephone: 0191 370 4000 Website: www.beamish.org.uk
The North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish in County Durham has won many prestigious awards since it’s opening some 30 years ago. Unless you have been and seen for yourself, you will not realise just what an ambitious project this actually is. The objective that they have set themselves is to have a living and working environment based on life in Victorian England in the North East. I have been many times and find that the hours fly past, leaving you with more to see on a return visit. The museum takes up some 300 acres. This enormous area is far too large to walk around and therefore your 1900,s experience starts immediately when you find that to negotiate the various areas in the museum, it is necessary to use the trams provided, some of which are horse powered. They take you on a circular tour of the countryside where you can see examples of how the fields were worked during the Victorian age, while you travel in open topped comfort to the various places of interest, which are: the Town, Pockerley Manor, Colliery Village, Railway and Station, and Home Farm. You can if you wish picnic in the park and listen to music from the authentic Victorian bandstand and watch the “population” of Beamish pass by. Soldiers, sailors, and nannies with their wards can pass you at any time, all in authentic costume. Look out for the Victorian Fun fair complete with merry-go-round, coconut shy, toffee apples, Wurlitzer and other attractions of the times. Construction of houses and equipment is on an ongoing basis, so there is always something new to see each time. Attention to detail is paramount with them, as is evident when you visit any of the shops in the “Town” The Town (1913) consists of •Co-operative Shops •Sweet Factory & Confectionery •Motor & Cycle Works •Dentist's Home & Surgery •Stationer's Shop •Printing Works •The B
ank •The Sun Inn Pub •Music Teacher's House •Solicitor's Office •Livery Stables The Co-operative Shops are staffed shops depicting exactly as it was at the beginning of the Coop movement. From food to toiletries, fruit and veg. to milk, and haberdashery to the undertaker, the Coop did it all. Walking slowly round the grocery store will show you many household names that are still with us today, as well as those that are now just a memory. A visit to the Sweet Factory & Confectionery is a mouth-watering must. It is an old sweet shop with its own little “factory” at the back. Here the boiled sweets of the Victorians were made. A North East speciality is the “black bullet” here you can sample them and see for yourself why they became so popular. Liquorice in all its many forms is also in evidence from the basic liquorice root, to the bootlaces and sticks that we more easily recognise. Humbugs, Mint Imperials, Gobstoppers, Aniseed Balls, Cough Lozenges, Sherbet Dabs, Multi Coloured Lollies, Parma Violets, the list goes on and on. If you add the smell of freshly produced sweets to the riot of colour in the shop, you will have some idea of what it was like in 1900. Willy Wonka eat your heart out. The Motor and Cycle works have various cars and bikes on display and are adding to these all the time. A comprehensive display of mechanics equipment of the day is also here and the thing that brings it all together once again for me is the smell of the grease and oil in the workshop. Pure nostalgia. Ooooh now the next place makes you cringe, it is a little group of terraced houses, which you can enter at one end of the terrace, and work your way through them all and out the other end. One of these is the dentist’s home and surgery, and if you are lucky (or unlucky if you like) the dentist will be at home and demonstrate to you just how to remove or fil
l a tooth according to the latest Victorian methods, foot powered drill and all. Those of a nervous disposition (such as I) should proceed to the next in the terrace, which is the music teacher’s house. The stationer's shop, printing works, solicitor's office, bank and livery stables are all working and mostly manned examples of this type of work at the turn of the last century. The latter holds the horses that from time to time pull carts or various forms of transport around the museum. Make sure you take a look in the “local”. The Sun Inn gives you an excellent idea of the drinks available, and you can marvel at how the population stayed sober at the prices. The Railway Station is a must for steam enthusiasts, as it has been painstakingly reconstructed by enthusiasts, to depict a real live atmosphere of the age of steam. The smell of steam and the sounds and costumes all go to make a memorable experience. Home farm gives you some idea of what it must have been like to work on a farm before the age of the tractor. Horses did the majority of the work and at various times, examples of ploughing or other activities are demonstrated. There is also a selection of old breeds of farm animals on display (foot and mouth restrictions may apply) The colliery village is absolutely fascinating. There is a church, schoolhouse and selection of houses, all perfectly recreated to show a snapshot of the Victorian age. My daughters, who are teachers, have both been to the schoolroom at Beamish, complete with their classes, all dressed up in their Victorian finery. Here they taught their lessons, as they would have done 100 years ago. Apart from the benefits that the day gave to the children, it added to the realism for visitors to see the school being actually used for the purpose it was intended. The colliery houses, complete with their little gardens, are a true masterpiece
in my opinion. You can wander round at your leisure, peek though windows and doors and marvel at the painstaking detail that has been recreated. Here you can chat to some of the occupants who may be baking bread, washing or busy with a “clippie” mat. Pockerley manor comes complete with gentry and their staff. Wander round and you will see the butler, chambermaids, scullery maids, cook, gardener and other various staff about their business. The kitchens complete with Victorian utensils are well worth a visit. As I said earlier, the museum is on a truly grand scale and its exhibits match up to this. Buildings are being added all the time and as they are actual buildings, which have been painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed, the effect is perfect, in every detail. The Open Air Museum at Beamish is approximately 10 miles south of Newcastle on Tyne and is well signposted from the A1. The opening times and prices are: •April until late October, opening times from 10am until 5pm. •Adults £12.00 •Children £6.00 (under 5 free). •O.A.P.s £9.00 It is well worthwhile checking for offers such as 2 for 1. The best place to check for these offers, is at any tourist information point in the North East or in the local press. Visits are also available during the winter, to the tram and village only at reduced rates. (All tickets are £4 with children under 5 admitted free) Telephone 0191 370 4000 Their website at www.beamish.co.uk gives even more details and is well worth a look.