Beamish, the Living Museum of the North
Beamish is a world famous open air museum which gives visitors an insight into how people lived in times gone by, in their work and family lives – a truly immersive experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. It tells the story of life in North East England during the 1820s to the 1940s – all connected by trams and buses from the period. This map gives an idea of what there is to see:
Throughout the site there are plenty (yes, plenty!) of toilets, essential for any family focused venue so the kids won’t get caught short. There’s also plenty of places selling refreshments, from water and Fentimans pop to afternoon teas and Fish & Chips – or you can bring your own picnic and sit on the acres of grass around the attractions, or even by the bandstand in the town park. Best of all, your entrance tickets will allow you to visit over and again throughout the year.
Pockerley Old Hall – Step back into Georgian times in splendid Pockerley Old Hall, its formal gardens and farm buildings. Set in the 1820s, the Hall would be home to a yeoman, miner or tenant farmer, with what was the original building a C14 Bastle left attached as his foreman or steward’s home. Watch tallow candles being made, wool carded and spun, and calligraphy.
Pockerley Waggonway – is home to replica locomotives, Puffing Billy, Steam Elephant and Locomotion No.1, which pull recreated carriages from the period – not quite the Intercity 125. Visit the loco works and warm up beside the roaring fire in the enginemen’s bothy!
The Colliery and Pit Village – Grab your hard hat and be taken on a trip down the drift mine and discover the often grim reality of conditions for pit workers. The original winding engine is the only survivor of its type and is regularly in steam to life the miners’ cages and blow the whistle for the end of the shift.
It was not much less grim when they got home, though the miners cottages show how the mine families lived. These were free to the miners, along with coal to heat them – even Davy’s Fish & Chip shop is still coal fired!
The Town – the heart of the museum giving you a taste of life in the years before the First World War. Visit the Pub, bakers and cafe, and see the papers being printed at the Sunderland Echo. Enjoy a brass band playing and see traditional sweets being made in the sweet shop – maybe followed by a trip to the Edwardian dentist!!
Rowley Station – Just down from the town is the station and signal box, and at weekends take a ride out of town and get the flavour of a ride on the early railways. Check the Timetable for running times.
Beamish 1940s Farm – The old Home Farm has been transformed to represent the Second World War era, from evacuees and blackouts to rationing and ‘make do and mend’. Discover the stories of life on the Home Front in the rural North East and how farming saved the nation from starvation during the war.
All in all, Beamish is an amazing day out – which could fill a week’s holiday on its own!