Beamish Open Air Museum

1128 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2018

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

In the C19th, mining increasingly dominated the economy of the North East, with the Durham and Northumberland coal fields producing about 25% of the country’s supplies. Coal really was carried to Newcastle from the ever increasing number of pits. Miners were relatively well paid with their wages being double that of agricultural workers. But it was a dangerous job with over 1000 miners being killed in 1913. Children could be employed at 12 but could not work underground until the age of 14.

Beamish is built on the site of a closed colliery. The Mahogany Drift Mine was opened in 1855 and part of the drift has been reopened with guided tours for visitors.

The main part of the site is occupied by the winding gear from a deep mine along with the associated wooden buildings called the Heapstead.

The tall stone built winding house came from Beamish Chophill Quarry. It was in use from 1855 until the colliery closed in 1962. The winding house contained the steam engine responsible for taking miners and coal trucks up and down the main shaft in the adjacent Heapstead building.

It was a complex and very responsible job and it is worth joining one of the talks given by an ex winding man to understand the significance of the building and how it operated. who explains the significance of the building and how it worked. I have written this up as a separate review.

The Engine shed is a reconstruction of a shed at Beamish secondary pit and is used to house the museums collection of steam locos and chaldron wagons. There is a growing and comprehensive network of sidings around the site, along with different types of trucks.

Pit ponies were used underground to haul the coal tubs. An Edwardian stables has been built using reclaimed bricks. Pit ponies working in the deep mines spent all their working life underground, only coming to the surface when the mine was closed for annual holidays or when there was a strike strike. Those working in the Mahogany Drift Mine would return to their stables at the end of every shift.

The site also includes the Lamp cabin, again a recreation. The Mahogany Drift Mine was free of gas and naked lights such as candles, oil lamps or carbide lamps were used. Deep mines were more likely to suffer from gas, and miners used safety lamps. These were kept in the lamp house with each miner having his own lamp.

A colliery village has been reconstructed next to the mine and again that is reviewed separately.

This is one of a series of detailed “reviews”: reviews I have written about Beamish

The full account of my visits with all the pictures can be read “here.”:


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.