Beamish is an open air museum which tells the story of Britain during the 1820s, 1900 and 1940s through a variety of real life actors, buildings and transportation.
If you are looking for somewhere to take the kids while they are off school, this is the perfect day out for the summer. We struggled to get around the museum in a day so really it needs two at a minimum- but don’t worry because you don’t have to pay twice. One admission allows you access as many times as you want throughout the year. It may seem on the expensive side at first but when you work it out- it’s a very reasonable price to pay for what is essentially an annual pass for you and your family. We arrived a little bit later than the opening time, however there was still plenty of parking spaces left.
The museum consists of the town, the railway station, the farm, a colliery, pit village, hall, and waggonway.
The site is extensive so you can either walk it or catch a vintage tram or bus to where you need to go, both of which stop regularly at each attraction.
All of the buildings have been rebuilt and furnished to show you how things looked back in time- even down to the smells! The costumed staff are on hand if you want to find out more about anything that you see- so no boring information boards to read or powerpoint presentations.
We began in the town which has examples of all the key businesses you might have found in years gone by. A dress makers, sweet shop, bank, bakers and printers to name a few-there are plenty of shops to look around and even get a souvenir or two! I recommend picking up a bag of something sugary from the sweet shop.
I would also highly recommend a pint in the pub along with a bag of crisps and a pork pie- the perfect quintessentially English lunch. That is if you are not too full from the variety of edible samples that tempt you as you visit each shop selling food. Weather permitting you can sit out in the park if the pub is full and enjoy the musicians on the band stand while admiring the surrounding flowers in patriotic colours- naturally.
Take a ride from Rowley Station next to the town in a stream train and enjoy a well needed rest rest while it travels up and down the scenic line. There is also a fairground next to the station with a carousel and swings if the kids need to jiggle their dinners up in their tummies!
The 1940s Farm is the place to go if you like animals- with horses, pigs and chickens- you can learn just how farming saved the nation from the brink of starvation during the Second World War.
The Pit Village shows you how the pit communities lived in the 1900s when coal was exchanged for labour.
From the poor residents to the rich farmers- Pokerley Old Hall shows you how the other half lived and is a gentle reminder of just how much we have today and perhaps what we take for granted.
In the school, you can practice your joined up writing with an ink pen and pot or enjoy a taste of hoops in the playground.
Although the phrase has been exhausted there really is something for every generation. For those looking to soak up the atmosphere, learn more about their history or see how people lived before us, it makes a refreshing change to many other museums as you really do feel immersed by the period detail. There are plenty of rest stops offering refreshments, light snacks and toilets to you can take it at your own pace and it's also disabled friendly. If you are on a budget you can take your own picnic and eat it out on the green or at the picnic tables dotted about the site.
I visited with my parents and we all enjoyed our time there- with a good pair of shoes and an open mind it’s an ideal destination for this this summer. Turn off your phone, leave modern life and technology behind and embrace the genuine feeling of time travel at Beamish.