Address: Beamish Museum, Beamish, County Durham DH9 0RG
Entry Fee: Adult: £16, Child (5-16): £10, Family: £46 (tickets are valid for 12 months)
Opening Hours: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm daily in summer (check website for winter opening times)
Suitable For: Families, couples, schools – everyone! Dogs are allowed, although they must stay outdoors.
My Visit: We’ve been to Beamish many times in the past two years. We live fairly close by, yet I hadn’t been for over 10 years until I went with my kids. The museum recreates Edwardian life, with a town, village and farm set in the early 1900’s, set in lovely countryside and linked by original trams and buses if you don’t fancy the short walks. The buildings have been relocated from their original sites and furnished down to the smallest details. In the Edwardian town you’ll find a Co-op, pub, bank, printers and the legendary sweet shop making and selling traditional sweet, amongst other attractions. The shops and houses are staffed by knowledgeable, friendly Edwardian ladies and gents, who’ll happily chat as they go about their daily business. For a look at the less genteel side of Edwardian life, the folk in the pit cottages or the hardy men down the mine give honest accounts of their daily life.
A newer addition to the museum is the Georgian Pockerly Manner, with the smart family home, servants’ quarters, formal garden, kitchen garden and farmyard to explore. There’s also a railway here with a small train that runs a few hundred yards down the track – not very far, but enough to delight the kids. We could happily spend a whole visit in this area, and do the other side of the museum a different day.
There’s no better way to teach kids about ‘real’ history than to bring it to life for them like Beamish does. My children are only little now, and they love to explore and run around in the fresh air. As they get older, there’s plenty of detail to engage them too.
Pros: One of my pet peeves for family days out is a lack of picnic areas and obvious attempts to compel you to buy overpriced junk food. Beamish is the absolute opposite: there are plenty of places to enjoy a picnic, and the food available at various locations around the museum is fresh and wholesome. An authentic fish and chip shop is due to open in the village soon and we’re really looking forward to trying it.
The hands-on ‘learning’ at Beamish is excellent: it brings history to life and gives kids (and adults) an understanding of Edwardian life in a way that textbooks or traditional exhibits just cannot match.
Incidentally, Beamish are also brilliant at social media. Their Twitter account is responsive and interesting and they have some excellent photos on their Flickr page. Well worth a follow.
Cons: It’s a big site and if the weather is bad it can be unpleasant getting from one area to
Off-peak, not all attractions are open every day.
Value for Money? Definitely! Our kids are both under five, so we’ve paid £32 for all four of us, for a whole year. We must be averaging about £2 per visit! For tourists who can’t return through the year it obviously isn’t such a great deal, but you could certainly spend a whole day here without running out of things to do, so I think £16 is still good value.
Overall Reaction: In case you hadn’t guessed, we absolutely love Beamish! It’s always clean and tidy, the staff are friendly, polite and extremely knowledgeable, the food is high quality and reasonably priced… I could go on. I can’t recommend Beamish enough, you absolutely must try it and see for yourself.