Focusing On North East England


Beamish Museum

This page was last updated August 2007

Beamish Museum is in County Durham in North East England.
It is only a few miles from Stanley

The open air museum is well signposted from the A1M, Junction 63. It's about 12 miles north west of Durham City and around 8 miles
south west of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Beamish Museum is a great day out, a unique experience not to be missed and not to be confused with boring museums!

The admission fee does not include fairground rides.

Take a picnic?, eat it in the pleasant, rural car park or in
the town centre park.
Or a few miles up the road is the town of Stanley which has free parking and a decent selection of shops.

The museum has two replica buses which are used between the town centre and the colliery village during the summer season. The maroon one runs on solid tyres and is a copy of a double deck bus operated by Gateshead Tramways in 1913. The 'General' bus is more comfortable with pneumatic tyres, upholstered seats and bright red livery.
Usually only one bus is used at a time.

Other replica vehicles include an Armstrong Whitworth car, based on a Sherpa van. Also you might see a replica Ringtons Tea van or the replica Newcastle Breweries van.

We suggest that before travelling you check the
Official Beamish Museum website
or telephone for current information, opening times and
available facilities. All attractions are not available every day, exhibits do change or vary.

A winter visit is centred on The Town and tramway only.

Booking is required to use the photographic archive facilities at the Regional Resource Centre.

Home Farm and its animals.

Home Farm illustrates farm life in 1913. It was called Home Farm because it was the farm attached to the big house, in this case Beamish Hall. A farm has stood on this land for many years. The farm building was originally two cottages which were made into one to accommodate a manager. It was a working farm until the 1960's, however when the museum took possession it was in a run down state.

Many of the buildings are original, some were brought from other locations.
The cart shed and blacksmiths forge were brought from Longhirst Lane Farm, Morpeth, Northumberland.

Mr George Kirkup was the Beamish museum Blacksmith for many years.
Known affectionately to his friends as George The Forge!
George made many items seen around the museum, such items as weather vanes, brackets for the tram wires, school gates and various rails when the trams were restored.
The hoops behind him are boolers, one of his specialities!
Mr Kirkup also appears in the Catherine Cookson mini series The Tide Of Life

In the back corner of the farm is a two storey building which originally was built in Stocksfield around 1850.
It houses chickens upstairs and saddleback pigs downstairs.
It is known as a poultiggery! and was rebuilt by at Home Farm by Bert

Breeds of farm animals, which were common at the time can be seen in the restored farm buildings.
Though in milder months most animals are in fields around the Museum.
Stock includes Shorthorn cattle, Saddleback pigs, Teeswater Sheep and poultry.
The farm has a reconstructed gin gan (horse powered engine) which would have been used for threshing.
The farmhouse kitchen has a 1910 black leaded range for cooking and heat.
Sometimes above the fire on the oatflake hang oatcakes.
They look like pancakes and were made on a griddle.
They would be hung for a day to dry out, they could be then kept in a tin for a few weeks.
They were then rehydrated in soups and stews.
The stone flag floor in the farmhouse was originally used in a cess pit!

Floors of this type were cleaned by scattering sand, then after sweeping they were sealed with skimmed milk!

The fairground features authentic rides including shuggy boats and a merry go round.

The cost of the fairground rides is NOT included in the museum entry fee.

Beamish Trams...

Railway Station

The passenger building dates from 1867, it includes a ticket office and a ladies only waiting room complete with ash toilet. It was a working station at Rowley near Consett before being dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt at Beamish.

The station shows how a typical branch line, country station around 1913 would have been. It includes a signal box, goods shed, weighbridge house and coal cells.

Unfortunately locomotives are not usually steamed at the railway station.
Visitors can ride behind a replica locomotive at Pockerley Waggonway.

Steam locomotives are sometimes run a few miles away at
Tanfield Railway

The Colliery Village is based around coal mining in 1913.
Visitors can look around cottages, back yards and gardens as they were.
In the back lane is the enginewright's shed.
The pithead buildings have a steam winder, locomotives are housed in the engine shed.

Guided tours are given at the drift mine.
Hard hats are provided, the walk is down a gentle, slightly bumpy path.
On busy days queues build up, consider walking there from the main entrance when you arrive? It's only a short walk downhill.

The Methodist Chapel was dismantled
and brought from Pit Hill, Beamish Village.

The school was dismantled and brought from Stanley. The schoolyard has boolers for children to try. A booler is a metal hoop which has a rod attached, children run behind them. The boolers were made at Home Farm by the Beamish blacksmith.


The Town centre is based on 1913 and has reconstructed buildings mostly from around the North East.

You can picnic in the park, occasionally a brass band plays
in the bandstand. The bandstand was manufactured in 1907, it originally stood on the centre island of the lake in Saltwell Park, Gateshead.

Ravensworth Terrace was a street on the left side of Bensham Bank on the way into the Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead
The original street of 25 houses were dismantled,
6 were rebuilt at Beamish.
They now include -

The Music Teacher's House which reflects life for a spinster in 1913, making a living by teaching music. It is furnished in Victorian style and would have been old fashioned in 1913. It would be lit by oil lamps or candles, cooking is done at a coal fired range. The house has no bathroom and would have an ash toilet outside.

The dentist's house and surgery illustrates dental care for those who could afford it! The surgery has a treadle operated drill. The house reflect the affluence of the dentist. It has electric lighting throughout, a nursery and a bathroom complete with flush toilet and a shower. In the kitchen is a gas cooker, vacuum cleaner and treadle sewing machine. The drawing room is furnished to a high standard and has an electric fire.

The Solicitor's Office

At the front is the Partner's Office or Principal's Office, this would be the office for select clients.
Many of the books came from the office of E.R. Hanby Holmes of Barnard Castle.
Notice the office is only lit by gas or oil.
At the rear of the building is the General or Clerk's Office.

The offices have a selection of letter presses, this was an early form of copying.
A document was placed in a special book with blank pages.
Behind the document a sheet of waxed paper was placed.
The document was covered with a dampened page then pressed.
This resulted in an exact copy.

The office is also a memorial to Robert Spence Watson (1837-1911).
A solicitor and Quaker, he was born and lived in Gateshead.
He became a national figure in politics, industrial negotiation and education.

Enjoy old fashioned cheer at the Sun Inn! A reconstructed pub with authentic interior and real beer! The Sun Inn was dismantled and brought from Bishop Auckland.

The Stationer's Shop has a printing works above. Notice the sign on the roof.
A selection of printing presses are on display.

You can buy confectionery at the sweet shop, check for times of demonstrations in the back shop!

Please don't eat sweets, ice cream, food or drink in any of the exhibits,
It isn't allowed!

Behind The Sun Inn are the town stables and harness room.
Also toilets and above them is the Porter Room.

The covered yard at the town stables features horse drawn vehicles.
Exhibits include a Hoult's Pantechnicon (furniture van), Ringtons Tea van, horse drawn hearse and a Nelson horse drawn fire engine with steam water pump.
Look out for the restored (horse) weather vane on the roof.
Also notice the cast iron roof trusses which were salvaged from a building at Fleetwood near Blackpool.
They have a span of 52 feet (about 16 metres) and were made around 1840.

Barclays Bank was opened in the town centre street on
Wednesday 31st March 1999.

The granite frontage is Swedish Imperial Red Granite, carved in the Aberdeen area by Fyfes. It came from a bank in Southport which had been demolished in the 1980's. It was going to be used in Japan as part of a themed golf course! Luckily for Beamish Museum the deal fell through.

The hand made bricks and quoins came from Park House in Gateshead, which had been built by William Cotesworth.

The wood panelling came from the same bank in Southport, the clock from Lloyds Bank in Leeds.

Visitors can also view the bank vaults!

The Co-operative Shops were dismantled and brought from
Annfield Plain.

The grocers department shows how food was often weighed to order. Look out for powdered eggs and water glass which was used for preserving eggs.

The hardware department is crammed with old fashioned hardware - set pots, football boots, lighting, gas fires, lino, roller skates, pots and pans, tin baths and much more.

The drapery department shows how clothes shopping used to be. It has a cashiers office for the cash system and also an office
at the rear of the shop.

The hardware department and also the drapery department both have a Lamson cash system. A hollow wooden ball would be sent along rails from behind the counter to the cashiers office. The ball contained money and transaction/dividend details.

The garage has an authentic workshop area and a showroom. The showroom features a Model T Ford, a Renault and an Armstrong Whitworth car which was built at Newcastle Upon Tyne. Also four motorcycles, a Triumph, a Royal Enfield and two Dene motorbikes made in Newcastle.

The SHEW car was made at Burnt Tree Engineering Works, Dudley around 1906.
The chassis was designed by Thomas Parker and was originally articulated. It still has a pivot under the floor behind the drivers seat. The rear was pivoted with the front, a toothed sector was incorporated which was linked to a steering wheel. The chassis and patent steering were further developed by Sedan Autocar Syndicate in Wolverhampton around 1907. It is powered by a 2.1 litre, 16 horsepower, twin cylinder, side valve Forman petrol engine.

SHEW stands for Seaham Harbour Engineering Works where it was taken to by rail around 1908 possibly for evaluation. The works also produced Londonderry steam road wagons. It was hoped that they could diversify and start making petrol engined vehicles.

The car was used as a works hack and was in storage many years. Around 1910 they modified the chassis to make it rigid, installed a front beam axle with steering and fitted the SHEW radiator. The chains now drive the back wheels.

This vehicle did the London to Brighton run in 1957. It was purchased by the museum in 2003 through an auction in Cambridge. Original wheels were solid tyres, it now has Model T Ford rims and pneumatic tyres.
Seaham Harbour Engineering Works produced some Sedan commercial vehicles - a prototype 2 ton lorry with articulated chassis, also three 2 ton vehicles and also a 1 ton light delivery van.

A carbide lamp is sometimes on display in the garage. Carbide was produced by heating lime and coal. When water is dripped on carbide then acetylene gas is produced.

The flit wagon is a Daimler which was made in Coventry. Look at how basic the cab is! Imagine driving all day in that!

The furniture was the property of Mrs Annie Sheavills who lived in Beamish village.
Mrs Sheavills lived to the grand age of 107 and went into a nursing home at 104!
Sadly she was widowed in 1919 when her husband was killed in a cycling accident.
The furniture was given to the museum in 1979.

Above the garage is the Cookson Room which is a modern room used for lectures, exhibitions etc. The room is named after the local industrialist Roland Cookson.

Pockerley Manor
Pockerley is two houses, the manor has a fortified house adjoining. The houses, gardens and farm buildings are as they would have been around 1825.

Pockerley Manor Gardens
These terraced gardens include formal gardens, orchards and vegetable plots. Plants, shrubs and trees are as grown in 1825.

The Horse Yard
Working horses here include Clydesdale heavy horses, Cleveland Bay and also Dales ponies. You might also see the pack horse working between here and the Waggonway.

Pockerley Waggonway, the 1825 Railway

This waggonway features authentic, full size, replica early trains.

The replica carriages are towed by a copy of Locomotion No 1 or the Steam Elephant.

The original Locomotion No.1 was built by George Stephenson in 1825. It pulled the first public, passenger-carrying, steam train in the world along the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.

An 1822 locomotive, built by George Stephenson, and reputedly the third oldest surviving railway engine in the world, is housed in the period running shed.

Steam Elephant

William Chapman and John Buddle were the railway pioneers behind the original Steam Elephant. It was built in 1815 at Wallsend

The discovery of a picture of the Steam Elephant has led to a working replica being constructed.
Parts were manufactured in Southmoor, Tow Law and around the country. To comply with modern safety standards it has three safety valves including the original type. The wheels are steel, originals would have been cast iron. Also air brakes are discreetly fitted. It was officially launched on the 21st March 2002.

Regional Museums Store

This building was officially opened on the 27th June 2002.

This massive building is beside Rowley Station and the fairground. Its exterior is in the style of a period engineering works. The project is a joint venture between Beamish and Tyne and Wear Museums.

The building houses large machinery, agricultural items, also some boats including a werry. The largest exhibit is a Doxford (ship) engine, which is so big the store was built around it! Railway rolling stock stands at one side of the building on the railway track leading from Rowley Station.
Visitors can see some of the objects from the viewing area which is available during summer months.
N.B. The objects in here are in a protected environment and the store is not normally open to the public, look out for occasional open days!

Masonic Hall

The foundation stone was laid with great ceremony on July 1st 2001.
The front of the building is from the Masonic Hall of Park Terrace, Sunderland.

Friends Of Beamish

Members pay a very reasonable annual fee and are allowed free entrance into the museum, as many times as they want. A quarterly magazine, published by the friends is also included. Friends are allowed to attend the monthly talks (small entry fee). The talks are usually by an invited expert and are very popular.

Voluntary work is available, potential volunteers are invited to an informal interview. This is a chance to discuss the many opportunities available. Volunteers can work behind the scenes or in costume.

Friends Of Beamish is NOT the same as The Beamish Club!

Official Friends of Beamish Museum Home Page

To the Official Beamish Museum website...