Recently I was invited to contribute to a travel guide for Newcastle. I could have a day out at one of my favourite spots, before sharing the details for those who are planning a trip to the North East and might need some travel inspiration.
I opted for a trip to Beamish Museum, one of the North East’s best known attractions, which – shamefully – I’ve never actually visited before. I blame this on the fact that I was ill at home the day my school organised a trip.
Beamish isn’t your typical museum. Located in County Durham, it’s an outdoor museum covering over 300 acres that explores what life was like in the North of England during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and the industrial revolution. It first opened 40 years ago and has grown to include new exhibits, with more planned for the future.
The site is divided into various exhibitions that you can wander between. There’s the 1940s farm, the colliery, a 1900s pit village, railway station, 1900s town and 1820s Pockerley Old Hall. Each area is made up of various buildings, many of which have been transported from their original homes around the region and rebuilt, brick by brick, at the museum.
The museum also runs a fully functional tram and vintage bus service, which you can use to travel around the site. Museum staff and volunteers can be found in authentic period costumes, walking about as though they really were historic figures going about their daily lives. Visitors are welcome to stop and ask questions and get an insight into some of the artefacts in the museum and what life would have been like for residents of the North East during that era.
The attention to detail at Beamish Museum is truly phenomenal. Each town has a range of authentic buildings that you can explore, from the old schoolhouse in the pit village to the homes of farm workers and their families.
There is just so much to experience at Beamish Museum. Whether you enjoy the historic buildings or the beautiful landscape in which the museum is set, you can spend hours looking around, marvelling at the colliery or squealing in horror at the outdoor toilets.
Although Beamish is a fantastic place for a family day out, I actually think you get more out of it as an adult, as each exhibit is packed with details that have taken years to amass.
It’s also home to a wide range of traditional eateries; I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t explore them all. We had lunch at the tearooms in the 1900s town, where we happily scoffed down a North East favourite of roast beef and gravy sandwich. In the town, you can also find a functional traditional sweetshop with row upon row of jars of goodies for the kids, and a bakery with delicious looking cakes and treats for sale. I must admit, I was tempted to buy something, not least because of how good the smell was.
But if you’re going to eat something whilst at Beamish, I have to recommend a visit to Davy’s Fried Fish Shop in the pit village. A traditional fish and chip shop, the food is cooked in coal fired ranges using beef dripping. Yum.
Apparently, on busy days the queues here can be as long as 90 minutes and after sampling the food, I can see why. We stopped in for a cone of chips and both husband and I declared that they might just be the best chips we have…ever…had. This is high praise from two people who eat chips as often as we do!
So much thought has gone into making Beamish Museum what it is today; it’s the kind of place you could visit over and over and still discover something new each time. Even the guide book is packed with detail and history, giving you descriptions of the people who lived in each house and what their jobs were.
If you’re visiting the North East, I can’t recommend a visit to Beamish Museum enough.
This post was made possible by the folks at the Newcastle Millennium and Copthorne hotel and Beamish Museum, who arranged a complimentary visit for me and my husband. All opinions are my own.