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Back in time at Beamish
Beamish North of England Open Air Museum (Beamish)
Member Name: lyndsey1989
Beamish North of England Open Air Museum (Beamish)
Advantages: Lots to see and do, interesting, all attractions are included in ticket price
Disadvantages: Quite expensive
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.
Summary: Nice place to visit for all sorts of people
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