Set in 350 acres of countryside Beamish Open Air Museum, has to be one of my favourite places to spend a day. I've visited several times over the years, bit it had been a gap of many years since my last visit, so when recently staying in the area I could not resist visiting it again!
Beamish Museum takes you back in time to experience life in the North East as it was during the early 1800's right through to the 1940's. It is a living, working town – you can buy from the shops, being served by staff in dress from another time, eat, drink from the many places there are to eat and drink and travel around on vintage trams and buses.
The museum is situated 12 miles north west of Durham City, 8 Miles South West of Newcastle Upon Tyne, It is well signposted from the A1M junction 63. The Sat Nav postcode is DH9 0RG. It can be reached by bus from Newcastle Upon Tyne and Durham City. The nearest rail station is Newcastle Upon Tyne from which a bus can take you to the entrance gates.
Opening times are:- Summer 10-5 seven days a week. Winter 10-4 seven days a week. Do check in advance because during the Winter Season only some areas are available at certain times, at other times there are special events when opening times are extended.
There is a large parking area with dedicated blue badge parking for disabled visitors – this area is also a drop off point and the area where the Accessible Mini bus for the less mobile collects visitors.
Unfortunately I left my camera at home when I was visiting the Durham area, however, at Beamish Museum once the Entrance Fee has been paid, visitors can come back as many times as they want for a year, so returning to take photos will be easier and I will share them with this site, meanwhile memories of my recent trip are on photos/postcards bought from Beamish.
Entrance fees for one year of unlimited access are adult £18, Seniors £13.50, Children 5-16 £10.00, children under 5 enter for free. There are concessions for families. Companions/Carers of disabled people are admitted free of charge. The ticket entitles you to full access to the whole museum and unlimited travel on the fleet of vintage buses and trams.
The Entrance Area also contains a gift shop (souvenirs can also be purchased from the Edwardian shops within the museum) A coffee shop is close to the entrance.
The Museum Consists of:
The Pit Village – a full size village consisting of a street of colliery houses, a school, a chapel, a Band Hall, Pit Pony Stables a working fish and chip shop.
The Colliery Yard showing Colliery life, a winding engine, drift mine, engine shed.
The 1940's farm which represents farming in the second world war. It tells stories of life on the Home Front from the angle of the Home Guard and from the point of evacuees.
The Town which I thought to be a fascinating area to visit. It is a 1910 town. There is a row of terraced houses (there are steps into the houses but for those not able to manage them, photographs of the interior are available). There is the Coop Store to see, the Bakers, Stables, Masonic Hall, Tea rooms, a park. The dentists, Solicitors, Bank and various offices are there to see. The Sun Inn is a working pub. My favourite had to be The Sweet Shop!
Pockerley Hall which illustrates the home of a wealthy farmer in the early 1800s.
Pockerley Waggonway and the Station is an operating railway giving a taste of rail travel in the early 1800s. With steam train rides available. A fairground is close by.
The whole site is surrounded by woodland and fields.
You can either walk around the whole site, or use one of the Period buses or trams. They run around every twenty minutes. It is worth mentioning that there are steep steps up to the buses. However for the less mobile there is an Accessible bus which also has a rear tail lift to enable it to carry up to four wheelchairs.
There are numerous places to eat:
The Coffee Shop – At the Entrance. The Sun Inn- The Town The Tea Room -The Town British Kitchen -The Farm. Davy.s Fish and Chip Shop – The Pit Village.
The museum welcomes those with reduced mobility, most of the museum areas have been made accessible, sometimes through separate entrances, for example the accessible entrance to The School is at the side of the building. There are one or two areas which would not be accessible for wheelchairs such as The Drift Mine and the carriage on the train at the Railway Station. There are some steps to the Colliery Cottages and steps to the house in The Town, but the museum is mostly accessible.
It is worth mentioning that pathways vary throughout the venue, some better than others, in some areas there are cobbles. The venue is on a very large site, but transport is provided throughout on a regular basis, through a variety of buses and trams with an accessible bus for the less mobile. There are disabled/wheelchair accessible W.C's throughout the venue. Staff have had disability awareness training and this was recognisable. – I have some mobility issues meaning I need a walking stick and from my own experience I found the staff helpful and aware.
We had a lovely day out on a sunny July afternoon, we enjoyed the sunshine but as there are so many places to go inside, this venue is suitable whatever the weather. We look forward to returning.