Why Beamish is the perfect family day out
Beamish is Britain’s best-loved open air museum. Laid out over an incredible 300 acres it recreates what life was like in northern England during the late 1800s and early 1900s, while exploring the rich industrial heritage of the region.
Don’t expect a dry as dust museum though. Beamish is all about bringing history to life and in 2020 it’s celebrating its Golden Jubilee. You can explore a 1900s town, a colliery village from the same era, a wartime farm, ride on an early steam train and even go down a coal mine. Costumed characters show you around and help to interpret this fascinating site.
Family tickets are available and your entry fee allows you to come back as many times as you like for a whole year.
Here’s just a small sample of the fun activities families can enjoy at Beamish.
Take a ride on a recreated steam railway at 1820s Pockerley
County Durham was the cradle of Britain’s railways network and at Beamish you can ride on a steam train through an 1820s landscape. Pockerley is what this part of England was like in the early decades of the 19th century. There are traditional breeds of animals, stone cottages, dry stone walls and the beautiful Pockerley Old Hall. There’s always Georgian cooking to be enjoyed and you can even learn Georgian crafts.
Pose for a 1900s family photo
In the 1900s town, you’ll find JR & D Edis Photographers. Choose from a selection of 1900s outfits and strike an Edwardian family pose.
Experience the life of an Edwardian miner
Beamish is on the site of a former colliery and the early 1900s were a period of relative prosperity for the miners of the region. In fact, if you earned a living underground you were paid almost twice as much as a farmworker. The Mahogany Drift Mine was opened in 1855 and you can experience the dark, damp conditions for yourself on an underground tour. After you emerge back into the light you can explore the 1900s Pit Village. There’s cottages on Francis Street complete with vegetable gardens and a communal bread oven. If you’re feeling peckish you can treat yourself to the miner’s favourite fish and chips from Davy’s Fried Fish Shop.
Dig for Victory at the 1940s farm
During the dark days of the second world war, the nation’s farmers were on the frontline. At the 1940s farm, you visit the cosy farmhouse and the neighbouring labourers’ cottages which are now home to a family of evacuees and Land Girls. There are farm animals to meet and you might even be called on to lend a hand at cooking with rations on the farmhouse range.
1950s optimism at the 1950s Welfare Hall
A new addition to the museum is a replica of a colliery welfare hall that you would find in a local pit village in the 1950s. It’s the first exhibit in the recreation of a 1950s town. It hosts 1950s games and dances and you can get dressed up in vintage outfits from the period. Nearby is the 1950s Northern General Transport Bus Depot where you can see engineering work being done on the museum’s ever-expanding fleet of vintage buses.
Discover life before the First World War at the 1900s town
Town life is bustling, and here you can see bread being baked and sweets being made. There’s an early 1900s garage but cars haven’t displaced the horses and carts at the town stable just yet. The Sun Inn is a recreated Edwardian pub. The Team Rooms serves tea, cakes and snacks using local ingredients. No 1900s town would be complete without a fairground.