Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Beamish - A Taste of the Past

Beamish Museum

I've been reading Joey's Blog about retro things. I have to say I love them!

This summer I took a trip down memory lane (to be truthful I took a few) and visited Beamish Open Air Museum which is very close to where we live. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't been there for over twenty years. I'm just not really a tourist in this country.

Well it has been such a fantastic summer that I went with my daughter & granddaughter in June & then went back a couple more times. My granddaughter Lauren is obsessed with this place and loves talking about "the olden days".

It's a living museum which reflects how people lived and worked in the Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian times in the North East of England. There's a town, a colliery, a pit village, a farm, a railway station and an old hall. So much to see that it's hard to get around in a single day. 

So we started our visit on the tram which runs from the entrance down into the town. There's a few different ones but we just get on the first one that arrives!

I think this red & cream tram was the one that was going out to California after the summer.

There are buses too and specially adapted accessible ones.

All the drivers and conductors are volunteers. In fact there are very few paid staff there.

Here we are down in the town and at the band stand. You might recognise this from the telly as some programmes have been filmed here. The one I remember was First of the Summer Wine which ran for a couple of seasons.

The little park area is a good place to picnic.

The sweet shop always has to be the first stop for Lauren. 

We try to get there early as the queues soon form!

At the back of the shop they make a lot of old fashioned sweets and Lauren loves to watch them. Her favourite choice is the raspberry drops. However she's not averse to a bit of cinder toffee! 

They have regular demonstrations of the sweet making. 

Here they are making the raspberry drops

 and there are plenty of free samples to be had!

After that she likes to go into the old houses. They have been rebuilt and the rooms have the original furniture.

They are quite posh, you can tell by the quality of the furniture and the carpets and would have been occupied by middle class folk like doctors, dentists, teachers etc. This one has a nursery!

This one has a bathroom with an inside loo. Really posh!

One of the houses is a dental surgery.  Yuck!

One of the days we were there a young man was playing the part of the dentist and telling us all about what his work involved. He explained how young ladies of wealthy families were brought to him to have all their teeth removed for their 21st birthdays. This meant they had lovely pearly white teeth so that their future husbands wouldn't have any expensive dental treatment to pay for. One young lad said "What if they didn't want their teeth out"? The dentist said "Tough, they do as they're told". The young lad's expression was a picture. 

Here's the display cabinet wiith sets of pearly white teeth and skulls!

My favourite is the Co-op shop, I love it. It brings back lots of memories of my sister and I doing the shopping for my Mam on Saturday mornings. 

Inside was exactly like this just bigger. All the stuff like butter, sugar, currants, sultanas etc were sold loose & weighed. 

 The Drapery Section

Here we are at Barclays Bank

I love the interior

And here's the Masonic Hall taken from Sunderland & completely rebuilt here.

Apologies for this photo, it's not too clear.

Here's the new bakery.

There wasn't much to buy but what there was tasted very nice!

Well I'll finish now. We still have the pit village, railway station & farm to visit but they can wait for another day!


  1. You can tell I am not a traveler. I was taken by the lovely trolleys until you said the drivers were "volunteers". It chilled me to think of being driven around by non-professional drivers. Then I found the candy delightful and my mouth was watering until I noticed none of the makers or servers were wearing latex gloves to be sanitary. And then, of course having been a banker, I couldn't help but notice the poor security the old banks provided. Who would want to travel with a spoil sport like me? lol So happy you, your daughter and Lauren had a good time:) Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love posts like this Winifred! I love the old days things... and have wondered what it would feel like to try and live in a home like my parents had and grandparents. The cabinet with the skulls were scary...but I love history just the same. Thanks for showing us your trip!

  3. Wow, sorry I missed this post. The place is amazing, and everything has been beautifully restored. I love the old trams and buses. My first place to visit would be the sweet shop. I love old fashioned sweets so much!

    Your photos are so good and clear and bright too.

  4. Annie - Don't worry the volunteers are all trained & qualified drivers. The banks never needed much security in those days & in fact now it isn't highly visible.

    Brenda - My daughter asked why we didn't keep the old fire ranges in the pit houses which I'll show in a future post. When I told her how much work it was to clean & polish them she understood why people wanted rid of them.

    Joe - thanks for the comments. You are like Lauren my granddaughter we have to go to the sweet shop first! It's odd that young children still love those old fashioned sweets. Maybe the sweet makers of today should think again about their products. I was born at the end of the war & sweets were rationed until 1953 so I never really developed a sweet tooth. My favourite was sherbet & liquorice which you could get a lot of for a sweet coupon!

  5. Thank you Winifred, I loved this post. Visited several times in the days when we still had relatives alive in the North East.Alan sometimes has said it would be good to go there again and see the changes but it seems a long way to go just for a museum even though it is special.


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