A Visit to Beamish Museum: Part 1

‘Tiny Tim’ the steam hammer at the entrance to Beamish Museum. A very autumnal photo from Wikipedia. Public Domain

Last week we were up in Yorkshire again for a short break. Needless to say, we visited some great sites to add to my ever growing list of posts to be written up. The site I’ve decided to write about first is one we’ve already visited three times in past years, and it wasn’t exactly one ‘just around the corner’ from our hotel. Nor was it in Yorkshire. But it’s a great place, with so much of interest to people of all ages., and well worth the 77 mile drive from our hotel near York.

So where am I talking about…? Why, BEAMISH of course!

Set in 300 acres of beautiful countryside in the county of Durham in North-East England…

….Beamish is described as a living, working museum. It includes a number of distinct areas, each very interesting in its own right. The four main areas are: the 1900s Town, the 1900s Pit Village, a 1940s Farm, and Pockerley Old Hall, dating from 1820. This photo of a map on one of the information boards at the site shows the location of these. Unfortunately, it isn’t too clear:

The buildings used to create the various areas of the Museum have been collected from across the north-eastern region, the primary aim being to present visitors with a realistic experience of the region’s past.

The various areas are spaced out around the site, so a number of trams and omnibuses are available for transporting visitors from one place to another. Most people choose to ride in the old vehicles, some for the experience of it; for others who would find the walking too difficult or just too much, the vehicles are a necessity.

Children find them great fun. In fact, on the day we were there, there were several groups of primary children enjoying a day out as the SATs exams had just finished. There were also a couple of groups of older students – all armed with questionnaires – probably studying the Industrial Revolution,or some topic related to one or more of the four sites.

At each of the sites, costumed staff and volunteers work hard to bring their roles to life. We can simply watch them carrying out their everyday tasks, or become involved in conversation and learn about the work they do and the goods or produce they are handling. They are impressively knowledgeable as well as helpful.

So, onto the 1900s town which was our first port of call after hopping onto a tram close to the Entrance:Beamish Town is somewhere we could have spent so much longer looking round. There are lots of interesting buildings and areas of the town that deserve more than a fleeting glance. This very long gallery shows some of them:

On walking along the town’s main street, you can’t fail to notice the Town Park with it’s welcomed greenery. In the 1900s, parks were important places in which townspeople could unwind and enjoy some exercise and fresh air after work in summer and at weekends all year. Sundays would see the many of the community coming together to hear a brass band entertaining them from the band stand.

Before we made our way along the road to the railway station on the edge of town we had a quick look at the livery stables across the road from the park:

We continued walking along the road heading towards Rowley Railway Station on the edge of town. The station was moved to Beamish from the village of Rowley, near Consett, County Durham. The guide book tells us that the North East led the way in the development of the railways. and by 1880, the North East Railway had a network of lines across Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire. Rowley Station was built in 1867 and it represents the Edwardian period at Beamish.

And to finish Part 1 of my Beamish post, here are a few photos of the Funfair on a field across the road from the station. To be honest, it was by no means the busiest area of the museum. Most people were far more interested in soaking up the history of the place.

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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15 Responses to A Visit to Beamish Museum: Part 1

  1. anroworld says:

    Dear Millie, you’ve got so many interesting places to visit, amazing. I like the railway station and park sites.

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, Ann. We do have rather a lot of historic sites to visit here, and I love these living museums. The staff work so hard to bring history to life – which is what I really love. My husband, Nick, loved the railway station, too.

  2. draliman says:

    That looks like a very interesting day out. If you can even do it in a day!

    • milliethom says:

      Well, Ali, I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘doable’! From Newark, Beamish is close on 150 miles and we could reach Beamish in a little over 2 i/2 hours – which would still be a lot of travelling, there and back, for one day, From Cornwall, you’ve no chance of doing it in a day (as you already know!) You’d have to have at least one overnight stop. What a great trip that would be. 🙂 From York it wasn’t too bad, and we had a good 5 hours at Beamish. The other 3 times we went there, we were staying much further north. Best plan. 😀

  3. MG WELLS says:

    Enjoyed this and thanks for sharing. Best wishes, MG.

  4. Looks amazing and I love the pics 🙂
    Love the room of the solicitor’s house ❤

    • milliethom says:

      Hi Galit! Yes, all the rooms in the houses of the ‘professional people’ were so well presented, down to the last detail. They really make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. ❤ I hope all is well and your writing is coming on brilliantly! 😀

  5. Sheila says:

    I love the photos of the old buildings and interiors. It reminds me of Greenfield Village in Michigan – one of my favorite places when I was growing up. I’m glad you had fun traveling through time!

    • milliethom says:

      The Victorian and Edwardian styles are common to us all, and I’d love to see some of the sites over there in the US. Greenfield Village sounds lovely! I imagine the buildings and their interiors have much in common with those over here, Buildings of that time had a certain grandeur that can’t be seen in later periods. Thank you, Sheila.

  6. leggypeggy says:

    What a great find. Thanks so much for introducing me to Beamish.

    • milliethom says:

      We have a few of these living, open-air, museums here, Peggy, but Beamish, to my mind, is the best. It’s a great place to visit for a day out – with or without kids in tow! We spent five hours there (because I’m a sucker for detail) but they say that four-hour visits are the average. There is a lot to see, which is why I couldn’t fit it all into a single post. (If you’re planning a visit to the UK, though, it’s a long way from Cornwall!)

  7. Everyone except me seems to have been to Beamish; it’s on the list (of course!) but, somehow, still to be done. I must say, Millie, that your post and photos show the extent and diversity of it far more than others I have seen – looks simply amazing!

    • milliethom says:

      Thanks, Mike. I could say the same about visiting some wonderful sites down south. We do tend to head north a lot, or across into Derbyshire. We’ve neglected many of the southernmost counties, other than Cornwall, where we had a week’s holiday last year. I imagine it’s a similar thing with you and the north. I know you’ve spent some time in Yorkshire, and you’ve done posts about Scotland, but places so far from home aren’t those you can have a day out to. As for the number of photos I post… I always tend to ‘overdo’ things, as my ‘almost full’ media file will testify! It’s time to upgrade my site very soon.
      Beamish is the best of the living museums I’ve been to (although I did enjoy the Black Country Museum in Dudley, West Midlands, too). There is so much to see in a single visit. We were at Beamish for five hours and still hadn’t time to go into some areas, like the mine and pit buildings. Next time, perhaps.

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