Beamish – The Living Museum of the North
A couple of weeks ago the Brown’s were invited for a day out at Beamish Museum. My husband and I have been to Beamish before but pre-children and so we were excited to be going back and this time taking the kids with us
Beamish is an open air museum where you travel back in time to see life in the North East in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times. Standing in 300 acres of beautiful County Durham countryside, within the site you will find Pockerley Old Hall, The Town, Rowley Station, The Fairground, Home Farm and The Pit Village.
Bearing in mind that Beamish is an open air museum and it was the end of October when we visited, we wrapped up warm against the cold and packed raincovers, umbrellas etc as we wanted to be prepared. We did feel we might be risking it taking two tiny terrors out on a potentially cold and wet day but luckily the weather held out and was actually really pleasant.
We started our visit by catching the tram to Home Farm. Or rather MissB and I caught the tram whilst Daddy walked down there with MasterB in the pushchair. As you’d expect with vintage trams, they aren’t exactly designed for pushchairs, and whilst you can fold them up and take them on with you, folding up a double buggy laden with bags and carrying two children was just a little too hard work. We were warned that this would be the case before we went to Beamish and so it didn’t worry us at all. We just took it in turns to ride the trams with MissB and one of us would walk with MasterB. Although the site is spread out, it is still perfectly possible to walk around it without using the transport.
At Home Farm we had a wander around the farm house but MissB was more interested in seeing the aminals (as she calls them). On previous visits we have seen chickens, lambs, calves, piglets etc at the farm but of course with us visiting in October the amount of animals around were less than usual though we did get to see some chickens, cows, ducks, geese and pigs.
After exploring Home Farm, we had a leisurely walk up into the Town. As MasterB was getting hungry by this point we decided to take shelter in the bus shelter and give him a bottle whilst we had cups of tea from the conveniently located beverage stand. The bus shelter is also where the baby changing facilities are located which was also convenient (although a little chilly!). Whilst MasterB and I were doing bottles we thought it was a good opportunity for Daddy to take MissB on a tram ride around the site. It takes about 20 minutes to go all the way around the site on a tram and so off they went on the top deck of an open air tram and left us to finish the bottle in peace.
The Town represents a typical North Eastern market town in the years leading up to the First World War. It has various buildings from a Masonic Hall and Bank to a Dentist, Pub (that sells real beer!) and a Grocery Store. Our favourite is of course the sweet shop where at certain times of the day you can go behind the scenes and watch them making sweets Also in the Town are the Tearooms where we popped for some lunch. Now as vegetarians we found the choice a little limiting but we enjoyed some nice sandwiches, crisps and a cup of tea before heading off down to the fairground to have a ride on the steam carousel. I fondly remember the steam carousel’s from my childhood and being dragged to steam fairs as a child by my parents so it was lovely to be able to take MissB on it. She loves horsies and so was very excited It cost £1.50 for a ride but it’s one of those things that you just have to do!
After managing to drag MissB away from the horsies we walked down to the Pit Village to go and see the Old School House. The Pit Village has lots to see, miners cottages, an old chapel and a recent addition is a traditional fish and chip shop. Now this smelt fantastic but it was disappointing that the chips are all fried in traditional beef dripping which meant as vegetarians it was off limits to us. We’d have loved to have some chips but I guess if they are being traditional then beef dripping it is
I think the School was MissB’s favourite place to visit with the old classrooms and slates to write on. It took us a while to persuade her to put down the slate and continue exploring with us.
In the School playground we had a chance to show MissB the kind of things Mummy and Daddy had to play with when we were children (cough cough) and had lots of fun running around with metal hoops and stick things. I can’t for the life of me remember what they were called and we were absolutely useless at it but we certainly had lots of fun trying
By this time, MissB was getting tired as we had been at Beamish for 3 hours and so we decided to call it a day before we had a meltdown situation. MissB opted for the easy option of getting back to the car…
We had a fantastic day out at Beamish but it feels like we barely scratched the surface. It really does take at least a whole day to get around and with 2 tiny terrors our time was limited. If you are planning on going with small children make sure you plan ahead so you can visit the places you like the look of most and then you won’t be disappointed if you don’t make it around every part of the museum. If you live nearby like we do then I highly recommend buying the Beamish Unlimited tickets which cost £16 and allow an adult 12 months unlimited visits. Children under 5 are free and and at present winter weekday tickets are £8 for an adult.
1) Don’t expect to be able to see everything in one day if you have small children with you.
2) Pushchairs won’t go everywhere in Beamish as some displays are authentic and so aren’t designed for pushchair access.
3) Have some extra cash on you for the fairground
4) Wrap up warm – it is an outdoor museum and so if the weather is cold then you will feel it!
5) Plan your visit so you know where you want to go, this way you can make the most of it.