EXARC Members Archaeological (Open-Air) Museums

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North (UK)

Member of EXARC since

Beamish is a living, working museum that uses its collections to connect with people from all walks of life and tells the story of everyday life in the North East of England. The museum presents everyday life in the 1820s, the early 1900s, the 1940s and the 1950s in both rural and urban landscapes. Beamish also has a fully working tramway and bus service that operates on a daily basis to transport visitors around the museum.

Open from

The museums 1820s area includes stories about the development of the railways at the Waggonway, a recreation of the home of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Headley, St Helen's Church, moved to the museum from Eston near Middlesbrough and Pockerley Old Hall, the home of a tenant farmer.

In the 1900s Pit Village you can visit a row of Pit Cottages, a Fried Fish Shop, a School, a Weslyan Methodist Chapel from nearby Beamish village, Pit Pony Stables and a Silver Band Hall.

In the 1900s Colliery you can visit Mahogany Drift Mine and take a guided tour to discover what working life was like for miners, learn about miners' safety lamps in the Lamp Cabin, visit the Winding Engine House and look in at the engine shed of the Colliery Railway.

In the 1900s Town you can look in on the residents of Ravensworth Terrace, including the dentist and the music teacher, get a drink in the Sun Inn Pub, visit the Jubilee Confectioners Sweet Shop, come along to the Annfield Plain Co-op, check out the cars at the Garage, head to the Bank and the Masonic Hall, or pop in to the Chemists and Photographers before heading to the Bakery.

You can also visit the Land Girls Cottage and Home Farm in our 1940s area.

In our 1950s area you can visit Spain's Field Farm which has been moved to the museum from Weardale. You can also visit Front Street Terrace, which includes Elizabeth's Hairdresser's, an artists house, John's Café and Middleton's Quality Fish and Chips, or head over to a replica of Leasingthorne Colliery Welfare Hall.

We are currently working on developing our 1950s area and more exhibits will be opening soon. We work closely with members of the community in the North East of England to tell their stories through our exhibits.

Beamish was the vision of Dr Frank Atkinson, the Museum’s founder and first director.

Frank had visited Scandinavian folk museums in the early 1950s and was inspired to create an open air museum for the North East. He realised the dramatically-changing region was losing its industrial heritage. Coal mining, ship building and iron and steel manufacturing were disappearing, along with the communities that served them.

Frank wanted the new museum to “illustrate vividly” the way of life of “ordinary people” and bring the region’s history alive.

Beamish remains true to his principles today and brings history to life for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Annual Number of Visitors

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