Monday was our first true adventure! We were headed to the Beamish Museum, a huge living history museum dedicated to life in the North through the years. The name 'museum' really doesn't give credit to places like Beamish. Beamish is a huge sprawling slice-of-life encounter, where you get to live and breathe as though you're in another era. I visited this place years ago with my parents and remember loving every moment of it. I'm very glad to say it entirely holds up as an adult, and I'd truly love to go back if I lived closer to enjoy all their seasonal activities throughout the year.
Beamish is comprised of several different areas, the best of which (in my opinion) is by far the 1900s Town. You can take a tram up to it from the entrance (this museum is seriously huge), or walk to it via a 1940s Farm, but we decided to hitch a ride on the tram. C'mon, how could we not?
The 'Town' itself features a whole slew of living, breathing shops you can take a look around and buy authentic items from. We were immediately directed to the sweet shop, where the shop keeper told us he was about to be making a whole new batch of acid drops to sell and we could watch. Everything at Beamish is done as authentically as possible, and the sweet-making process was no different. We watched in amazement as he made the drops completely from scratch using original machinery and techniques, explaining each step of the process as he performed it. It was really informative, and at the end, we were all given free samples. Brilliant! Entertaining, informative and yummy!
After that, we headed over to the cafe to grab a quick drink, before exploring the rest of the town. One side of the town is entirely dedicated to a terrace block that is the living quarters of various enhabitants, all doubling as their places of work. We visited a solicitor's office, a music teacher's home and even a dentist's surgery. The chap in the dentist's surgery was very informative and took great delight in explaining just how horrible everything was back then. And you thought you hated going to the dentist these days.
After visiting these lovely homes, we looked around the rest of the town. At the pharmacists I noticed they were selling bottles of sarsaparilla and I'd never tried one, so I decided to give it a go! These bottles were great. Back before glass bottles had bottle caps, they used to put small balls in the tops to keep them fresh. The only way to open a bottle was to force the glass ball down into it. Apparently they're still quite popular in Japan, which is where Beamish now imports their bottles from. As for the sarsaparilla? Sort of like dandelion and burdock, a very medicinal taste. I kept the bottle, but probably won't go back for seconds.
We bought some lovely freshly baked bread from the bakers, and looked around the co-op shop, bank and newspaper shop. You could spend hours in this part of the museum alone, but we pressed on as we only had one day to squeeze it all in!
We decided to walk back down and not take the tram, as there are various things to do on the way. The route back to the main entrance from the town passes by a train station, a small fair ground and a warehouse full of stock ready to be placed into Beamish someday. I think I read that they're in the process of building a 1950s area to the museum, which is of course right up my street, so I might have to make a return visit once they do. The warehouses were full to the rafters of wonderful vintage household products, everything from old fashioned vacuum cleaners to magazine collections. Again, I could have spent hours in here. I'm a complete sucker for this stuff.
Further along the road back to the main entrance, we came across the 1940s Farm. This place featured a farmhouse and assorted buildings, all ready for life at war. There was wonderful 40s music belting from the radio while we explored the living room, and then wondered around outside. There was a kitchen set up outside replicating the restaurants set up by the government during the war. I tried a Spam sandwich! It was actually really delicious. And to think Spam gets such a bad rep!
Afterwards, we plodded down to the Pit Village. This was a smaller area, featuring a schoolhouse, a fish n' chip shop and a chapel. The school house was a lot of fun. We spent far too much time trying to learn how to hoop roll, because we're all adults.
We went to the Colliery after, where we took a guided tour down a mine and learned just how awful life down there was. We also had a very eye-opening chat with a man who was one in a long line of proud Northern miners and who had a lot to say about the closures of the mining industry in the 1980s. I must say, the people at Beamish were all so passionate about their roles. They were all so well informed and chatty!
After, it was finally time to meet with the rest of our group (we had split up way at the start and didn't see much of each other during the whole trip!). We arranged to meet back in the pub up in the town, but they had gotten distracted so Moose and I sat and enjoyed a beer while we waited for the last tram home.
And then we went home and slept forever! Seriously, I adore Beamish! I'm sorry for so many photos, but I couldn't narrow them down very well (I took so many!) I'm so sad it's so far away from us down here in the South because I'd love to visit more often. I really, really recommend a visit if anyone's considering the trip. It's a wonderful, informative and fun day out and I can't wait to see how their new developments pan out.
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, art, geeky adventures, gaming, life in the South West of England, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to know a bit more about me, click here!
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