Aug 18 Beamish Open Air Museum

We visited Beamish on a less than beautiful day (there was rain), but we had such an interesting day we didn’t mind.

The museum currently tells the story of life in the North East of England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s.  They are working on the 1950s but that part is not open yet.

We found the 1900s really fascinating as the shops and bank are so reminiscent of our own childhoods, particularly Clyde’s.  There were so many places to visit in each time period that it was impossible to see everything, so we had to be selective.

Barclays Bank counter
Shopkeeper explaining the till system!
Inside the Co-op

The people in the shops etc were dressed in the costume of the day and there were goods for sale.  They were all very knowledgeable and very happy to share this with the visitors.  In the Co-op, Clyde was transported back to his childhood and he can still remember their dividend number!  We were amazed by the money handling rules and the kit used to send it to the cash office and receive change.  There were no counter top tills.

Garage workshop

There were some old cars on display at the garage but, I was interested in the workshop with all the bits of kit.

Inside the printers
Printing plates and press

The printing works had displays of printed material and newspapers from the era.  The machinery was very evocative of the time before computers.

Haberdashery
Open top tram
One of the beautiful old trams in action

We had a couple of trips on the trams to save our legs.  The seats were a bit hard though!

Puffing Billy. This is older than Stephensons Rocket!
Puffing Billy’s carriages
1900s schoolroom

This school room reminded me of my school in the small Suffolk village where I grew up.

Mine buildings
Drift mine

Of course, this was a mining area and there was an exhibition of mining memorabilia along with an illuminating display  of the development of safety lamps (pardon the pun!) There is also a moving photographic portrait of the huge numbers of miners who worked in the mines.  The camaraderie was so important to these men and boys for safety and friendship.  The strength of their bonds led to the development of the village platoons who fought in the first world war, and died, together.  Very moving.

This is a fascinating view of life in earlier times and we would like to go again once the 1950s phase is complete.

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