Beamish Museum

Beamish, once called the North of England Open Air Museum and now ‘the living museum of the north’, occupies a site of more than 100 ha 14 km north-west of Durham City. It was established in the 1960s through the personal commitment of its founder-director Frank Atkinson, and is concerned with the social and economic history, urban, industrial and rural, of north-east England. Its most important industrial exhibits relate to the coalfield in which the museum is situated. Visitors can go underground into a drift mine, and the surface buildings of a characteristic large-scale colliery have been re-constructed. They include the cabin from which miners collected their safety lamps, the screens which graded coal into different sizes, and a vertical steam winding engine of 1855 of a type, designed by Phineas Crowther, that was widely used in collieries in north-east England. A nearby colliery village includes a Methodist Chapel, a characteristic school of the late 19th century and a fish-and-chip shop. In a more urban area is a magnificently appointed Co-operative shop of circa 1920. The distinctive practices of the North Eastern Railway are displayed at Rowley station, which was moved to the museum from its original situation. Beamish has a notable record in researching and interpreting the development of early railways. Various kinds of track and chaldron waggons characteristic of north-east England can be seen on the Pockerley Waggonway, and three replicas of important early steam locomotives can be seen working. The best known is the replica dating from 1975 of George Stephenson’s Locomotion No 1 which worked on the Stockton & Darlington Railway from its opening in 1825. The original “Puffing Billy” was designed by William Hedley and worked on the Wylam Colliery railway from 1813. “Steam Elephant” was built in 1815 by William Chapman and John Buddle for the Wallsend colliery railway. The replica was based on research by the museum staff. Tramcars originally used in Gateshead and Sheffield convey visitors round the park.

Beamish Museum
DH9 0RG Beamish
Co Durham
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 191 - 3704000