Beamish - Summer 2014

Last Christmas we booked to visit Beamish on one of their Christmas evenings. There were parts of it that were fab (Santa was amazing and we loved the carol singers) however we did encounter some problems. I highlighted these problems to management at the time and have to say they were really interested to hear our comments and learn from them. Beamish should be proud of their customer service and willingness to put things right. We were invited back this summer to see everything that Beamish had to offer and we had such a fantastic day that we have been converted and will now definitely recommend Beamish to everyone and anyone who will listen.

Beamish is well signposted from A1 and parking is free. You pay once and can visit as much as you like during normal opening hours for a whole year for free. This is fantastic value as there is so much going on/to do. If we lived closer we would definitely make use of this every month - our toddler loved the trams and would be very content just spending an afternoon riding on these! There are lots of events throughout the year and it would be lovely to watch Beamish change throughout the seasons. An annual family pass for 2 adults and 2 children costs £48 (under 5's are free). 

Beamish is a living museum with real life actors telling the story of life in the North East in the Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian era's. Today was just a whistle stop tour - we missed a few sections/activities and would love to go back next year to spend more time taking everything in.

Our first stop was the Pit village and colliery. I loved how you immediately feel as if you have been transported back in time - staff are all wearing authentic costumes, the cars that are driving around are vintage and even the information signs look like they belong in the past. My eldest and my mum joined the tour to venture down a real life mine. They were given hard hats and the tour was fully guided - my 7 year old loved learning about how children worked from the age of 4.

Next, we walked through the village - there is an open door policy and it is exciting opening a door to somebody's home and not knowing what you'll find. We found ladies making mats and a lovely man making his own bread in the kitchen. The actor's are happy to chat away and answer any questions. 

Everybody loved having a turn of the old fashioned washing machine.

Before we left the village we had to check out the old school house. There is so much to look at and take in - we tried some Victorian playground games and practiced writing on slate and with a quill.

We caught the vintage style bus from the village to the 1940's farm and had fun meeting the pigs, horses, chickens and geese. The farmhouse is amazing to walk around and I had serious Aga envy!

Next, was the definite highlight of our three year old's day - a ride on the famous trams. Of course we had to ride on the upper deck! We all loved this and I had to bribe Jack to leave his seat when we arrived at the town. We passed the vintage funfair with carousel on our way and will definitely visit next time.

Our stomach's were starting to rumble by this point (and weren't helped by the wonderful aromas's wafting from the sweet shop and bakery). There are a few options when it comes to food - a traditional fish and chip shop in the village, a cafe near the entrance, snacks from the Sun Inn pub (pickled eggs and pork pies) or the tea rooms. We opted for the tea room. There were lots of people taking a picnic by the bandstand too.

The food in the tearoom was reasonably priced - expect scones, tray bakes, jacket potatoes and a few home cooked meals to choose from. A children's lunch bag was £3.95 for a sandwich, juice and a choice of three other items which was very good value. Our jacket potatoes hit the spot too.

The town is probably my favourite part of Beamish - there is so much going on and again there is an open door policy. You can wonder around town houses, watch a Victorian dentist, pay money into a bank and visit their vaults, buy sweets from a sweet shop (and watch them being made), visit a general store, watch a baker and then buy some freshly made bread......the list is endless. You could easily spend a few hours in this part of Beamish alone.

We spent 5 1/2 hours at Beamish but could have easily spent more. I was so impressed and really would recommend investing in an annual pass if you live nearby. Next time we visit we are going to explore the Waggon Way and hopefully catch a vintage steam train, enjoy fish n chips cooked in beef dripped from Davy's chip shop and visit Pockerley Old hall.

If you're looking for something different to do this Halloween, why not try a Halloween evening at Beamish (not included in annual pass) - expect ghost stories, fancy dress competitions, escapologists, hall of mirrors and more!


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