Beamish Museum – Review for families

Visit the North East's only open air museum bringing the past to life

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What is it?

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Beamish is the museum of the North East, telling the tale of the people who inhabit the region in the Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian periods. Find it in County Durham, 12 miles from Durham and 8 miles from Newcastle. The SatNav postcode is DH9 0RG.

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

Babies / Toddlers & Preschool / 5 – 8

Cost

£££ – It’s around £18 for an adult ticket, £10 for a child ticket and all children under 5 are entitled to free admission. It’s very expensive, but tickets include all daytime events and tram rides. The tickets are valid for one year from first entry for unlimited visits.

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What’s on offer

Beamish is a museum with a difference, set out in the open air. It’s main attractions are the dedicated areas showing what life was like for the North East of England. The Town allows you to step into pre-WW1 life in the North East and explore the dentists, the bakery, confectionery shop and more. There’s a park with a bandstand featuring regular live music. Taking a look at the terraced houses and reading about the inhabitants is a great opportunity to experience what life would have been like and introduce your children to the likes of freemasonry, print works and Edwardian motors. Just to name a few!

There are also recreations of a railway station, a colliery and the very popular, running 1940’s farm.  You can also wander round the Pit Village and Pockerley Old Hall to see how both the rich and the poor lived in the North East during the 1900s. There’s so much to see and do; it would be criminal to try and fit it all in just one guide.

The events at Beamish are very special. Dress up opportunities, classic car days, agricultural events and seasonal evening events like harvest festival, bonfire night and Christmas are on throughout the year. Check the website to find out what’s on and when.

There are numerous cafes and restaurants, including the Tearoom, Davys Coal Fried Fish & Chips Shop (which is a working exhibit), The Sun Inn licensed pub and The British Kitchen. The gift shops at Beamish are exceptional, particularly the Jubilee Sweet Shop, which you’ll find in The Town. It hosts sweet-making demonstrations and sells a range of excellent qualities candies. There’s also a gift shop with lots of souvenirs for sale and a kiosk, which sells more practical items like brollies, water bottles, cameras, batteries and rain ponchos.

Beamish offers free car parking for all visitors, plus there are numerous toilet and baby-changing facilities at the museum’s entrance and in several other areas. Dogs are welcome in the outdoor areas of the museum only, but please think about other visitors before bringing an animal.

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Highlights

This place is a must for children, especially children who are from the North East or families who have heritage in the North. No doubt when the reach a certain age, they’ll be transported back into the past on a school trip to Beamish. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take them – especially since it’s just as fun and educational for adults as it is for children.

Don’t expect to see artifacts in glass jars or items of interest kept in displays. You’ll see them in their original context, as part of a room or set up. Much of what you see is real, not just recreations, especially the buildings and histories. The museum is about the past, but it’s definitely alive and makes it very present. Don’t expect to see computer screens. It’s not interactive, but it’s immersive.

The people who work at Beamish are locals, who are very friendly and knowledgeable, too. They’ll be dressed up in period costume, making everything really come to life for your little one.

Beamish is ideal for whole families, including grandma and granddad, as there are vintage trams and buses ready to carry people to and from different areas.

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What to watch out for

  • It is expensive, but it will fill up a whole day and has the potential to be an unforgettable family day out.
  • The opening times for each eatery, event, attraction and the museum itself are very specific and vary in summer and winter seasons. Please check the website before your visit and note the visiting times for your preferred areas.
  • Prepare to walk around a lot by wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes and taking a few sit down breaks during your visit. Don’t worry, there are trams and other ways to get around the museum.
  • Make sure you pick up a map upon entering!
  • There’s a cash machine at the entrance.
  • Evening events are not included in your ticket and will cost extra. Make sure your book evening events in advance. Check the website to see which day events cost and which ones don’t. They shouldn’t! But just to be safe…
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MFM tips:

  • If you’re after a sweet treat or are not a local visitor, make sure to buy some confectionery. We must recommend the cinder toffee. It’s unrivalled.
  • Make sure to plan for a full day here. If you’re running low on cash, just bring a packed lunch.

What the owners say

“Beamish is a world famous open air museum. We tell the story of life in North East England during the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s. Beamish stands in 300 acres of beautiful County Durham countryside. With so many things to see, Beamish is a wonderful day out for people of all ages.”

Visit the official Beamish Museum website

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Discover more of North East England…

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Whitley Bay
Ouseburn Valley
Hancock Museum
Life Science Centre
Discovery Museum
Segedunum
Tanfield Railway
Whitehouse Farm
Pets Corner

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